By Samantha Davis
Our culture preaches the concept of ruthless independence. Do it for yourself, by yourself, or so help yourself. Pick yourself up by your bootstraps! If you can dream it, you can do it! It’s all about you.
I make no claims against independence in its truest form, but I can say that a life lived in isolation from others is to spare yourself from one of the greatest joys of God’s design – community.
That’s right. Messy, vulnerable community with other brothers and sisters in Christ. While you may wince at the thought of letting people see and hear of all your struggles, your mistakes, your past, your fears – let me with absolute confidence press the dramatic reformation that occurs when you open yourself and your life to the transparency of a gospel-loving community.
Over the last year, I’ve experienced curve ball after curve ball in my career, family life, and relationships. It seems that if ever there were a time in which things should fall through, shatter, and go awry – now is the time. Yet interestingly enough, throughout this year, I have time and time again opened up the details of my life to a collection of friends who have helped me prosper through these hard times in ways I could have never imagined. Not only have I survived the curve balls, I have thrived because of them. The one underlying agent being godly community.
Sitting on a girlfriend’s couch as she strategizes my career with me, sitting across the table at a diner in East Village discussing how to live with other people, or sharing concerns about being a member of a church with a fellow volunteer after service on a Sunday… It’s been in the little moments when I am fully able to live in the reality that God wired us for community to be strengthened, encouraged, and loved on as a reflection of himself.
So what does a godly community look like? Imagine if you had a collection of people in your life that loved Christ and would love you and guide you through any and every situation. At any moment, they would get on the phone to pray as you wait for life changing news from the doctor. They would talk through the options of which job to take or which school to send your kids to. When you move, they’re there to pack up boxes. When you feel afraid or lost or totally confused, they speak wisdom from our Father over you and give you the same love and grace He showed us. This is a small and beautiful glimpse of godly community – a collection of people that love and support you in the way God loves us.
What if I Don’t Have it?
That’s okay! If you are currently attending or a member of a church, start to reach out to others to get involved in bible studies, interest groups with people in a similar life stage as you, or just find a woman who is following the Lord and ask if she would meet with you on a regular basis. Finding a peer or someone a few stages ahead of you in life that loves the Lord is a great way to start building your community of God. Meet for coffee and talk about your life, study a chapter of the bible together, or just be a listening ear.
Pray for community and seek out friendships among other women who you witness loving the Lord. We’ll be praying for you to find and strengthen your community too!
It Doesn’t Always Happen Organically
In my ideal fantasy world, I collect a group of bosom buddies who all share a love for Jesus and we each hold each other accountable to our identity in Christ. We laugh at the same jokes, get excited about the same things, totally understand one another in times of need and can prescribe the ideal section of scriptural encouragement to cheer one another on.
Sometimes you do find yourself in a group of friends that also happen to speak truth into your life. Other times, you find biblical community in your church, in an established community group, a women’s bible study, or some other organized group that shares a desire to live alongside one another walking in the way of truth, encouraging one another, and loving one another every step of the way.
Be Vulnerable, Nothing is Too Big or Too Small For God
When something is occupying your mind and no one knows, share. Allowing members of your community access into the vulnerable, messy places in your life will shed light in the dark places and cheer you on when you need it most. In community, good ideas will flourish and lies will be replaced with truth.
You can enter into conversations about what job you should take next, how to deal with a difficult coworker, your ideas about doing something differently in your life. Regardless of how big or small, God cares intimately for you and your desires, hopes, and dreams. When you enter into a community of those who love you and love Him, you experience a collection of spiritual mirrors reflecting God’s light onto you and your life even when you feel incapable of doing so yourself.
When the people of your community have a mutual love of Christ, truth, love, wisdom, and encouragement can be freely spoken over one another. The ripple effects of community are so great; how they intensify the flavors of life and minimize the pain of our struggles.
Living Life in Community