I was sitting talking with a couple of women when I saw her approach. Something in me began to shut down. I anticipated how the conversation would go. And while the details aren’t important, my reaction is. I know my standard response to her advice, I nod and smile and agree. Although inside I am not nodding and smiling and agreeing.
I believe a lie that to get along means to be silent. I believe a lie that the alternative means I will be offensive if I speak up. No middle ground.
But this day is different. Something deep inside me feels peace. I am able to speak, kindly and with courage. As I speak this passage from 2 Kings 6 is in the backdrop of my mind:
“When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. 16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”
Do you see what is going on there? Elisha’s servant wakes up and sees they are surrounded by an army, the end is near. Elisha prays that the eyes of his heart be opened. And when they are, he sees the unseen. He sees reality, the reality that exists in God’s kingdom. He is protected and will be fought for.
That is how I was feeling in this moment- protected, cared for, fought for. My eyes were opened to a reality more true than what was tangible.
Afterwards a friend told me, “I was praying. As I saw her approach you and knowing this could be a tender place for you, I started praying and God gave me specific things to pray.” When I asked her what she prayed she said “That you would know you weren’t alone. That he sees you and is with you. That you know he is fighting for you and that you are made in his image.”
This friend wasn’t someone who knew me long or knew everything about me. But she was a friend I was in community with. It has now been a year that I have been in an intentional group with three other women. Initially we were ‘randomly’ grouped for a ministry that our church is partnering with. After a weekend retreat, we met weekly and have been protecting and propelling each other on since. (The organization is Wellspring Group- go read about it here. It has been not only transformational, but sustainable- sometimes a hard combination)
Community is something we long for. I have had seasons of living deeply from the richness of my community. I have had seasons that felt like a desert. We are not made to live this life alone. We miss so much when we do. But it can feel risky and vulnerable and easier to play it safe. Easier to live at a surface level and never admit a need for another person. But the easier is a loss.
It is in the vulnerable that we are known and the seen. It is in being believed in that we flourish. It is in our weakness that others can show us love. It is in naming our fear that others show us our brave.
“The person who loves their dream of community will destroy community, but the person who loves those around them will create community.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community
Love. Community is love. It is the practice of love. Of giving and receiving. Of ultimately pointing each other to the One who is defined by Love. Reflecting to each other the relationship of the Trinity. Community is the place that encourages our growth in Christ. It is where our engagement with each other ripples outward to love of those around us and to the world.
When we let go of fear, we can more freely love. When we let go of fear, we can more freely let love in. When we let go of fear we can embrace those around us who let us know we are not alone in our brokenness and who cheer us on saying go be who God has created you to be.
God’s Word, Prayer and Community. These three for me have been the avenues of saying no to fear and instead responding to a life of freedom. A life that flows from not believing lies, but instead trusting in the voice and movement of God. It is the anticipation of goodness in our lives.