Community

Do you have a place to be yourself? A place where you feel accepted, like you are known and understood? Community is important to us as humans. Belonging is one of our basic needs right next to survival.

I feel so fortunate to be part of a group of women who are amazing, intelligent, committed and gracious. They share their stories, their struggles, their wins, their hopes, as it flows out of our book study.

There is nothing like people willing to be themselves, raw, tears in eyes, sharing the things that have been hard, the things that have stopped  them cold, knocked them down. They don’t even have to be asked. They feel safe.

It takes time to feel that safe. We’ve been together for a year and that is long enough to grow a bond of trust. Long enough to know people are safe to be known and share. A group has to be willing and safe.

I had another such group, a mixed group this one. The elders at my church agreed to try an experiment. We had been reading Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Scazzero, and he really stresses community. He goes so far as to say you won’t grow and become the person you were meant to be without it. So we met once a month for a year and shared out lives–literally our family trees–emotionally. It was a great experience. We always met at my house and I miss them on Wednesday nights.

Our idea was that leadership should be spiritually healthy.  At a church? Duh!True, the church is a hospital for broken and wounded people, but the leadership ought to be spiritually healthy, and I agree with Scazzero that if you aren’t emotionally healthy it’s impossible to be spiritually healthy. Not that you have to be done, you won’t ever be done growing here. And most of us are behind emotionally. But we have to be willing. That is all God ever asks of us. And you only grow in community.

You may have to start with just you and God. That is a community, and you may be too scared to start with people. If you are willing, Ruach (Holy Spirit) will lead you into a community of people. As long as you are willing to be real and share your own path, your own struggles, community will come. It develops from safety. And safety is intimacy. Trust grows in safety. You don’t have to be perfect, just willing to come out of hiding as your feeling of safety allows. Safety grows in coming and sharing the experience. Honest sharing is holy ground.

You won’t feel worthy; I don’t. That’s ok; you need it, and they need you. Just be that safe person, show up, and let yourself be loved. You don’t have to share until you want to. You will be scared, but take the risk; it’s worth it. You are worth it. God is worth it–He’s safe.

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