My dog and I do this thing where we put our noses together. We get super close and just rest our heads next to one another. I think he likes to check that I’m still breathing and I just like his little soft nose. I mean, he’s kind of adorable and all. But it struck me recently that we became friends through this. We got up close and personal. (If you’re wondering, he is currently nipping at my fingers because he wants a belly rub…) Now that we are friends, we hang out. He follows me around and I chase him. I give him belly rubs and he constantly tries to clean my feet (he has some weird habits to be sure). I get to cuddle with him all night and he gets to wake me up at the crack of dawn. It works.
And I started wondering; what if I treated the people in my life the way I treat Levi? I don’t think I should rub anyone’s belly or invite strangers to cuddle but maybe I should let people in a little bit more. Or a lot. What would happen if we let people in up close and personal? Would relationships develop faster?
So last year, I went to the Passion 2015 conference. If you don’t know what about Passion, it’s a conference aimed at college aged young adults. I went to the first one this year in Atlanta with 20,000 other young adults. My favorite thing about this conference was their commitment to community and breaking us into smaller groups. So they took the 20,000 of us, split us into smaller sections, then down to groups of eight.
They created families for the weekend. I was with two people from my home church and five new people from all over. Immediately, they started sharing their lives, hurts, fears, and struggles. They just opened up and got real.
I was talking with one of the girls I stayed with and she said something that was really profound, “When one person is vulnerable you can’t help but be vulnerable with them.”
Isn’t that a beautiful look at community? Opening up to strangers takes an enormous amount of courage and trust. But as I’ve said before, fear lies. Fear says that we will be rejected. Fear says we aren’t enough. Fear says to keep hiding. I’ve spent a long time listening to what fear has to say when I should have been asking God what He thought.
God calls us beloved. God calls us His children. God says you are redeemed and worthy in Christ. God says you have immeasurable value. In every situation and hard place God loves you. Your worth and value as a person will never change based on the world.
So I challenge y’all to start showing up. Start getting real with people. You opening up allows for others to do the same. We all greatly desire for others to know our hearts. It can be scary. I completely understand that. But, the desire for other people is God given and He brings so much good from it! So please, push past that fear. Watch God move. He does incredible things.
“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” Psalm 133:1
So I originally started this post about a year ago. I was in the midst of building my community and really working to bring it to life. It was a struggle. It was a time of loneliness really. Things do take time and it’s hard to wait for them to happen. However, having come out the other side, it is so worth it. Just showing up. Sharing your heart with someone. All of it. It’s so very worth it. There’s nothing that compares to godly community.
I hope this encourages you and helps you keep going. I know some of you may be in that place, waiting for a community to happen. It can be a tough road to walk. But the Lord moves in the driest places of our lives! Keep going my friend.
I’m praying for y’all and would love to hear what this looks like in your lives!