Community. I bet that word brings a lot of thoughts to your mind. I feel like we talk about it a lot. Mostly because it’s hard. And beautiful. And full of tears and smiles and craziness. Going to college has taught me so much about people and relationships. Which is great, and I’m happier than I can ever remember but relationships, though beautiful, can also be a source of great hurt.
Have you been hurt by someone you trust and love?
Have you hurt someone else through your words or actions?
I could phrase a million more questions about the complexity of relationships. Because they are difficult and I have yet to meet someone who fully understands them. I’m still learning so much about how to love others and love them well. So often, I say something and realize how discouraging or cruel that was, not because I ever want to hurt someone I love but simply because I’ve been careless with my words. Or, when someone does the same to me, I find forgiving them nearly impossible. To overcome that hurt is so hard. So, as I’ve walked through these struggles I’ve found a few things that help and I think are healthy. I want to share them now because I truly desire for each of you to live in a healthy community with deep relationships.
- Pray. And then pray some more.
Prayer is a crazy powerful thing. God is an amazing, loving, compassionate Lord and He hears us when we call out to Him. He is amazing at answering prayers. (I want to be careful; He isn’t a genie, giving us whatever we want. However, He is a gracious Lord and He does work. )
So, I would highly encourage you to pray over the people in your life. Pray for their day, their character, and their relationship with the Lord. Pray for wisdom and strength to love them more. Ask them what they need prayer for. Bringing Jesus into that relationship will only strengthen it and draw you closer together. This is SUCH a beautiful thing.
The Bible says to “cast your burden on the Lord,” and “pray without ceasing.” God is so much better at changing out lives than us. He works and moves through prayer in ways we can’t even imagine. (Isn’t He so darn amazing???)
- Recognize lies and call them out.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, fear lies. Our past hurts and insecurities are hard to ignore. But recognize lies when they come into your head. To get really honest, I’ll have thoughts like, “they don’t want me here,” “I’m so weird. They must think I’m a freak,” and “I can’t tell them what’s really going on in my life because they will reject me.” I’m just being real. I know those things aren’t true. I know God is so much bigger than those lies. So I’m practicing calling them out. I will stop what I’m doing and just call it out and reject it.
The truth is so very powerful. And the truth is God created you as a messy, amazing, wonderful person in His image. He has gifted you uniquely and you have some amazing things to bring to the table. One of the bravest things you can do in this life is to share who you are with others.
- Practice love.
I’ve always been fascinated by love. Romance, friendships, families… Love is weird and we talk about it a lot. We see people start dating and walking around with their heads in the clouds. We see friends posting selfies and talking about being sisters or brothers (from another motha!). But we also hear heart-breaking stories of when “love just wasn’t there anymore.” Or how it fades. And I didn’t understand that, how can love just stop? God says He loves us, could His love fade?
I think this idea of losing love or “the fade” comes from a misunderstanding of what love is. Love is not an emotion. Infatuation, adoration, and excitement are emotions. Love is an action. Or a series of actions I guess. Love is laying your life down. Love is forgiving someone. Love is serving them.
This is crazy hard. I’m not saying having this knowledge all of sudden makes everything rosy. But it has changed my approach to relationships. Actively working on loving the people around me has deepened my relationships and made them so much sweeter.
I left this until last because it’s by far the hardest part of community in my opinion. It hurts and it’s scary. I find it terrifying to forgive someone knowing that I might be hurt again. Or to trust someone with my heart knowing that they aren’t perfect and they won’t always love me perfectly.
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:12-14
If you’re looking for something to read today, the entire first section of Colossians 3 gets to me. It calls for some hard actions but it’s so good. Part of loving someone is letting yourself be vulnerable. I could write so many words on forgiveness alone and someday I might but for now, know this is hard but it’s beautiful.
I hope these encourage you today. Please let me know what these things look like in your life and how you approach community! And know that I’m praying for y’all and greatly desire you to experience godly relationships.