I’ve been thinking a lot lately. That can be dangerous. Just kidding, well – me thinking a lot can be dangerous but … I wouldn’t say this is so much thinking as it is The Holy Spirit stirring something up inside of me.
This week it hit me like a ton of bricks;
I suck at community.
I try not to give life to negativity or speak out of my mouth (or hands – through writing) anything that goes against what The Father says about me. But I just kept feeling in my heart “You suck at community.”
Now, I’m not saying Jesus said that to me. He didn’t. I think He has stirred some stuff up and “you suck at community” is what came to the surface – my thoughts about myself, not his thoughts … however, a little bit of conviction came along with that stirring. So let me stop rambling and jump right in.
One of my deepest desires has always been to be surrounded by a group of girls who love Jesus, love me, and love each other. To have community with healthy individuals who know who they are in Christ and cheer their sisters on instead of look for reasons to chop them down – that’s one of my deepest desires.
When I started walking with Jesus 11 years ago I soooo wanted this type of community that I tried to fabricate it among the group of friends that I already had. They weren’t terrible people but they didn’t quite fit the mold of what I was looking for. So I tried to control them and create them the way I thought they should be.
I tried to make them more holy. I tried to preach to them and make them desire more of God so they could in return be more of what I needed them to be – **Blank Stare** Yeah, because that’s what God truly wants for his children.
Forgive me. Please. It’s no secret that I have been and can be a HOT. MESS. I’m just keepin’ it real here.
I would go to church and seek out groups that I wanted to be apart of, try to force friendships, and then get upset when they didn’t turn out to be who I needed them to be as well.
Throughout my 11 years of walking with Jesus I have learned that He truly is (TRULY) full of mercy and grace. He let me roam this earth, chasing after him and just being a sloppy hot mess wherever I went.
I didn’t know. I really didn’t.
I was judgmental. I put extreme pressure on people to make them do better and be better. In Jesus’ name of course.
I meant well.
I had experienced such a life altering encounter with Jesus and I wanted everyone to know about it, encounter Jesus because I told them to, and then be radically changed forever – oh, and be an incredible friend to me as well.
Well – my approach didn’t work.
It actually blew up. In my face. Hard.
After suffering through a year of anxiety and depression with constant panic attacks in 2011, let’s just say The Lord rewired my heart and mind and allowed me a chance to start over with fresh revelation and a humble heart.
After 2011 – walking through ‘life or death’ day by day, The Lord helped me to eliminate my unhealthy desire for friendship and the heavy expectations that I set up for people (which were so heavy they were destined to fail as my friend). As God helped me to start over I began to unknowingly set up guard rails and fences all around my heart for protection.
I figured if I kept people at a safe distance I would never have to worry about destroying the relationship or them disappointing me – and we could be cool and nice and carry on with our lives as sisters in Christ. Safe. Predictable. Good.
I have done this for many years. Even my closest and most trusted friends don’t have access to my whole heart. I thought they did but as God stirred my spirit this week He showed me that they don’t have that access. I keep them at a distance.
When people are hurting I don’t know how to serve them. I want to. I think about them constantly, cry with and for them, and pray like crazy for them – but I have no clue what to do for them.
I play it safe with ‘Hey, if you need me LET ME KNOW’. If they were to ask I’d be there in a heartbeat but let’s be honest – how often, during terrible times, do people actually reach out for help? They don’t know how to ask for help because they don’t know what they need. They just need us to do something and do it however God prompts us to do it.
My best friend was at my house the other day and as we were talking I remembered that she had bronchitis over the past couple of months. I asked her was she feeling better and inquired about her life since we had last spoken (she’s not much of a texter / social media chick so you have to invest in some old school time with her to know what’s going on).
When she was sick I did not stop by her house to serve her. I didn’t check in much to see how she was. I could have loaded her dishwasher and straightened up her kitchen. I could have brought her dinner. I could have watched her child for a couple of hours while she rested. I could have sent her flowers or a card or a note telling her I love her, miss her, and am praying for her. But instead I did nothing. Because if she really needed me she would let me know.
Tonight my heart is breaking because earlier this year I had bronchitis and it was hell. This same friend dropped a pot roast dinner on my door step one night while I was going through this terrible sickness and messaged me to check in numerous times. And I’m realizing that while she was ill I pulled the safe card “let me know if you need anything” and carried on with my life.
She’s my best friend.
Come on now.
So this week – after moving and then being on ‘staycation’ and skipping out on church a couple of weeks due to preparation for the move and the move itself I started to feel that longing for community again.
I realized that this is a pattern in my life. It’s one that shows up as a true longing but then the enemy uses my past to try to punch me in the forehead. It’s a cycle. It happens every now and then and I battle with Truth and carry on.
But this time was different.
Instead of engaging in warfare I didn’t give the enemy any time or energy and just went straight to Jesus and said, “What am I missing here? There is something going on in my life with community and consistency and I need your help to straighten this out. Help me identify what’s going on so we can move forward from this mountain.”
My friends – God listens and He answers.
So my heart starts stirring. My flesh starts to wrestle. “You suck at community” wells up. Then God’s gentleness shows up with conviction. Not judgement. Not condemnation.
I cry. I repent. I receive forgiveness from God. I forgive myself. My eyes are opened and I’m prompted into action by The Holy Spirit.
So why am I writing all this and sharing all this super vulnerable (even for me), embarrassing (even for me) stuff?
Because. Because we were not made to be alone. We were made to serve God and walk in community. Even when it gets messy and people get on our nerves and we blow it and we get it wrong.
We were made for community even when we speak out of term and we are having a bad attitude and we say something about a sister that we really don’t mean – and we may need to apologize and experience the pain of hurting another person and face the reality that we are not perfect.
You can set up as many fences and vaults that you want around your heart and yeah, you keep bad stuff out but you keep good stuff from coming in. You’ll stand on the outskirts of life in community and long for a taste of sisterhood.
Social media won’t fulfill that longing. It will curve the appetite but it won’t fulfill the craving.
We, as believers, are The Body of Christ. We are to be seeking God and holding steady TOGETHER. You should not crave community more than you crave Jesus. This is where I got it wrong in my early walk with The Lord. I thought if I just had good Christian girlfriends then I would be closer to Jesus.
No. You get close to Jesus because you desire to be close to Jesus. Seek Him first. Matthew 6:33 says “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
You don’t have to manufacture friendships and control people and even if you do – it will never satisfy. You’ll go through the motions but you’ll never be satisfied.
I always thought if I could just love God and love people from the distance then that would be enough … but it’s not enough. It’s grieving the Spirit within me.
In Matthew 22:36-40, one of the Pharisees, an expert in Religious Law tried to trap Jesus by asking Him what was the most important commandment in the Law of Moses and check out Jesus’ response in verses 37 -40:
“37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Jesus didn’t tell us to love God with everything we have and then love everyone else only if its safe. He said to love your neighbor as yourself.
Wow, you guys. I have a lot to learn and I really feel I’m headed in the right direction to get down from this mountain of isolation and safety.
I really do want Jesus to lead me where my trust is without borders. I don’t just sing that song (Oceans) because it’s a pretty song. I mean it when I sing those words to The Spirit.
He is a good, good Father. It’s taken me 11 years in my Christian walk to receive this revelation that I’m sharing with you tonight. He is truly our Helper and our Peace.
I don’t suck at community. I’ve just been deceived for many years by the enemy. He gets no credit – God has used those years to prepare my heart for loving people deeply and authentically even if it causes deep pain and rejection. God gets the credit.
I bind and break any deception that the enemy has wrapped around my mind, In Jesus’ name. I am not in agreement that I suck at community – I’ve just been a little off course. God has a plan for my life and I play an important role in The Body of Christ along side my sisters and brothers who play very important roles as well. I am not going to always get this right and that’s the beauty of our weakness colliding with God’s greatness.
What about you? Have you come into agreement with lies that the enemy has spoken over you? No more! You’re no longer walking under that deception. In Jesus’ name I break the lies that have been spoken over the person reading this blog. I bind the work of the enemy in the thoughts that they have chosen to think and believe. Father- would you breathe fresh breath into their lungs and help them to exhale every burden that they have been carrying on their own. From this moment on they will see their worth. They will be able to clearly identify the lies that come at them and combat those lies with Truth. Thank you God that they don’t have to figure it all out today or ever – they just have to simply come to you and surrender. Give them peace and let them recognize Your great love for them right now in this moment.
In Jesus’ Mighty Name – AMEN!
You are loved by God, my friend. AND you are loved by me. Like, for real.