In today’s community post, you get to hear from Leslie, a dear friend of mine, about what community has taught her. Leslie is a unique human being who is passionate about seeing and understanding others as a vital part of loving them well. She has an interesting and insightful perspective on life and I’m excited for her to share with you!
This year I stepped into uncharted territory; I celebrated my 30th birthday. I realize I’m not the first ever to hit their dirty thirty decade, but there is something significant about this year. In the months leading up to my birthday, I would take personal inventories, trying to decide if my life measured up to what the world expected it to look like by 30. One word of advice: don’t do this! By the world’s expectations, I should be married with 1.5 kids, living in a house and well into my career. What I’ve come to understand is that even though my life doesn’t look like that, it’s still okay.
Almost 5 months later, when I think back to that birthday celebration, I am completely overwhelmed with joy. Where I had been stressed, wondering when parts of my life would move on to the next stage of life, God gave me a reminder that He not only answered my prayers for friends, He has filled my life to overflowing with strong Christian community.
I spent several years fairly isolated, my life revolved around work and I struggled to find friends that would hold me accountable and encourage me in my faith. I knew I was broken and hurting, but didn’t realize the depth of that until I found a church I could call home and began to actively seek community. It’s so easy to want to take control and lose patience in building new friendships, but I wanted to let God get the glory out of my story. I can recall specifically praying that God would place the right people in my path and show me the friends He knew I needed and that is exactly what happened!
My God-given community has helped me heal. I have learned that people can be trustworthy and actually root for me to succeed. They have seen potential and called out gifts and dreams I didn’t even realize I had in me. They have cried with me, prayed with me, lovingly corrected me when I’m wrong, and had the patience to listen to me when I just needed a safe sounding board. They have celebrated with me, sympathized with me, and given me hard truths. The journey of healing in community has taught me one of my greatest life lessons: things are ALWAYS better in God’s hands!
I used to see my life as a puzzle without a box, the pieces scattered about the room; it was left to me to blindly put the image together. Sometimes the pieces almost worked, so I tried to force it, determined to make them fit. Truth be told, I’ve had quite a few relationships that looked like that. And trying to make things fit in my own strength always ends with someone being hurt in the process. What I’ve come to understand through community is that my life is actually whole, not scattered. The puzzle pieces or relationships are intended to be a reflection of God’s love and plan for my life, I just can’t see the whole picture. Thankfully, God not only sees the picture, He designed it. He knows exactly where and when each piece is supposed to fit. It is when we release control to Him and give God permission to work on our lives’ puzzle, orchestrating the community we need, that we’re able to find healing.
How has community brought you healing? How can you create an environment conducive to surrender for yourself and your community today?
Download Community: You’re Welcome at the Table, a free PDF, at sarahjcallen.com/community