Given the opportunity, I would much rather stay at home by myself with a good book and a steaming cup of coffee. I hate crowds. Meeting new people intimidates me. I savor quiet and solitude, a rarity in our busy little household.
But there is another part of me that craves company. While I enjoy solitude, I don’t want it for too long. I’m chatty, so I need someone to listen to my ramblings at some point during the day because quite frankly, I talk to myself enough! And sometimes I just need to know that I am not the only woman out there about to lose her mind because the moment she washed the floors was the exact same moment the kids traipse in with muddy feet and the dog “accidentally” marks her territory.
I assume being an only child accounts for this odd mix of social introvertedness (and the fact I like to make up words!). But I like to think that the part of me that longs for community is the Holy Spirit working in me.
A few years ago I began a descent into a pit of my own making caused by an unhealthy obsession with dieting. I don’t mean just being mindful of what I was eating. I was going full throttle in search of an eating disorder – in fact, based on my behavior and emotional state, I am fairly positive I had found one.
I don’t know if you have ever been caught up in an action or actions that you are ashamed of. But let me tell you that my first instinct when I realized there was a problem was to hide. I tried to hide my appearance behind dark, loose clothing. I hid my binge eating behind pantry doors in dark kitchens. I found as many excuses as I could to not go out with friends, especially if they wanted to go out to eat. And I certainly never, ever spoke about what I was struggling with. The part of me that craved community slowly died until all I longed for was a safe place to hide where no one could find me.
I was ashamed. I was afraid someone would judge me for the things I was doing. A few years before I had been the object of much admiration for losing weight and getting in shape. I was horrified by what people must think of me now.
I lost my joy. I remember one day realizing that I didn`t laugh as much as I used to. And let me tell you, I am the queen of giggling. I even giggle at myself whenever I think I am particularly amusing.
Several months ago, as I began ascending out of this pit, God had me begin to share my struggle with others. I remember the huge sense of relief I had when I finally admitted it to my small group face-to-face. And it was then that I realized that for all that time I spent hiding, I had played right into the enemy’s hand.
I firmly believe Satan doesn’t want us to have community with others, especially other believers. It’s extremely hard for someone to steal your joy or redirect your focus when you are surrounded by like-minded people. Rather, when we isolate ourselves we start to listen to the lies that fill our mind, that no one else would ever allow themselves to get to this rotten point, that we are a failure, a loser, with no hope. He knows that when we hide ourselves away in the dark, we are more apt to invite him in.
But the moment I started to creep out of that dark place and share my shame, I began to feel lighter. Suddenly, the mountain I was standing in front of didn’t seem so insurmountable. In fact, the more I shared the easier it became to leave my old habits behind.
Surrounding myself with supportive community enabled me to really lay down my issues at the feet of God, to stop circling that mountain, to begin to live a life of obedience and worship to my Savior. Instead of feeling such heaviness in my heart and a desire to hide, my heart instead is full of a longing and desire to honor God with my entire life.
If you are struggling my prayer for you is to find one or two people you can be open and honest with, people who will pray for you, support you, and lift you up when you need it just like Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 & 12 illustrates:
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
How have you experienced the positive impact of community in your life?
by Andrea @ Under Grace & Over Coffee
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Andrea, for so many reasons, I could’ve written this post about myself. I’m truly moved by your words. Thank you for sharing!
Jen Martinson says
In April 2010, I had my 3rd miscarraige in 4 years (I have 4 living children) I miscarried at 15 wks 2 days this last time, delivered Abigail Eden into the arms of Jesus April 13 in the ER. Previously, I had miscarried my 2 yr old’s twin at 20 weeks and before that a miscarriage at 7 weeks. The grief was compounded this spring. I was in a pit. It was the community of my church family, my pastor and my close friends and family who came along side me, differently, but with the same purpose. To be the hands, feet and love of Jesus to me, to my family. We received meals for most of the first 3 weeks. Some came and sat with me so I would not be alone while my husband went back to work. Some watched my kids. One very special person gave me the devotional “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young. It has changed my life. While I had a relationship with Jesus before it was more about doing, not being. These devotions have lead me to the place of His loving presence,like I have never felt before. Definately, has made an impact.
Thanks for sharing your story, your beautiful heart.
I am currently a member of Debtor’s Anonymous!
Spending money had become a very big problem in my life. More than once, my husband had to take out loans at work to pay our credit card
bills. Somehow, my spending addiction became worse and worse and almost cost me my marriage and family. Thanks to my faith and realizing that nothing was worth losing my family over, my addiction is under control.
Thanks to the Grace of God, I am becoming more and more whole. Thanks, Cindi
i have a couple friends who are always there for me, but never let me get away with self-justification. through the “faithful wounds” of these friends i have found deliverance from a number of difficulties that would have otherwise overwhelmed me.
I have struggled with my weight my whole life and I think I hit bottom while in college. I was obsessed with food and calories and binge eating and felt like life was just out of control. The first person I talked to about it was the school nurse and I know that was the start of my recovery. It has been slow and really taken me years to get where I am now. Eating is still a struggle that I have to give to God daily, but I am thankful for the people God put in my life that have encouraged me and helped me move forward in life.
Jennifer S says
7 years ago this month, I joined Celebrate Recovery at my church. It was a tough decision to make – to join a 12 step program when I did not have a substance abuse issue… WHAT would people think of me??
But I fell in love with those working their program around me – knowing and being a part of their stories has strengthened my faith as I see God work in their lives.
And he has transformed me through my relationships with them. I can count on anyone on my leadership team (over 30) to speak truth to me. I know I can trust their words to me, and I have learned so much from walking with them. My accountability partner has allowed God to speak through her into my life more times than I can count and I am changed. Forever. Thankfully.
Praise the LORD that he was thinking of me when he inpsired John Baker to start CR almost 20 years ago. I am SOO thankful.
Thank you for this post.
In answer to your question, yes I have.
When I was 15 my mother passed away. It was a trying time for all of my siblings, especially my little brother and my dad. We all suffered, but we were able to grow closer together, and our community was great. Many people in my church and community brought my family dinners, offered to clean our house and were great company. I have many wonderful memories experiences during that time.
I’ve also had the opportunity to help others in my community during their times of need, and help them the way I was helped.
I am thankful for the support of community I have found as we have moved in our homeschooling groups. There has always been a wonderful group of women to help me learn the ropes in a new area and help me feel welcomed.
God is so good and it is often through the voice of His children that we hear His voice. My husband was deployed just a couple days after my son had major surgery to reconstruct a congenital skull deformity when he was 9 months old. It was terrifying and beyond exhausting to help my son through his recovery on my own. With a history of depression, you can imagine how the sleep deprivation took its toll on my mental, emotional and physical state. I truly felt alone and one night I cried out to God asking if He was seeing anything that was happening. How did He answer? Audibly – through the voice of a friend who called me the very next day to say that God had put me on her heart and she was praying for me and just wanted to encourage me. God answered through community – reminding me that I wasn’t alone and that there were other children of His that could and would share my struggles with me. What a blessing to be reminded that I am not an island and I was not meant to walk this path alone. God is so good and His timing truly is perfect 🙂
Thank you for sharing this beautiful example of the power of community, in setting us free and in ministering to us God’s love and forgiveness.
I too have experienced freedom when I’ve exposed hidden secrets/sins to loving friends who then prayed for me and expressed God’s tangible love for me.
Community can be so beautiful and powerful, when there is unity, love, acceptance, grace.
Something devastating recently happened to my sister and her family. Up until that time we didn’t share much, but when she called me up to talk to me it really opened the pathway for us to share. Turns out I thought she was perfect and she thought I was perfect . . . so the other was always afraid to share their imperfections for fear of feeling inferior.
So that was a great lesson amongst sisters . . . since then we share our ups and downs. I’ve been helping her through her marriage issues and she’s been helping me through my depression.
Before this, we walked alone . . . but it’s nice to know God knows what He’s talking about – and two really are better than one.
Last year, my husband fell into a pit of depression. It was truly awful and put a huge strain on our marriage. I didn’t want to tell anyone because I kept thinking that it was somehow my fault, I was a failure as a wife (and I was being told that – depression in men often has a huge anger component). When I finally did confide in a few people, it was such a huge relief and they were able to help me get some perspective (and to get him help). A year later, we are stronger than we ever were but if I hadn’t reached out, I don’t know that we would even still have a marriage.
My friend and I share a lot over our emails. We both stay home a lot, me for medical reasons and her because she homeschools her four children. Since we can’t get out much, we have found community in one another.
Amen! Avoiding Community is how Satan creeps in and camps out…and we are left so weak that we can’t combat him! After my father died when I was 18…community is what got me through….when we got married…community is what made it happen…..since then, community has been a lifeline of sorts….it isn’t the source of strength for me…but it often leads me to the source!
Jenn @ Beautiful Calling says
Amen to all of the above. It is so important to “gather together” not just for the sake of numbers but Christ said to edify, lift up etc. He knew the dangers of being alone. It’s hard to reach out sometimes though.
This is not an entry. I already won a giveaway.
Last year, I was put on bed rest 2 weeks before my daughter was born because of preeclampsia. As anyone who’s ever been on bed rest, it can be boring (as well as worrisome). My church community prayed for my baby and I daily as well as a few people calling just to keep my spirits up. Thanks to them and my wonderful husband, I was able to follow dr’s orders and ended up delivering a very healthy baby girl
Deb Owen says
I resisted community, one I knew that I needed, for about a year. The more I isolated, the sicker I became. The shame, believing the lies that there was no help for me, that no one could possibly understand or love me, that this was all that life (and God) had to offer me led to a deep pit of despair and sadness on top of everything.
In addiction circles they have a saying: You’re as sick as your secrets.
And it’s true.
When we live in community, we are less likely to even begin down those paths. But community alone isn’t enough, it’s necessary to have at least one or two people who know everything there is to know about you. If not, you’re not truly living in a healthy state.
It is possible to ‘live in community’ and still not experience closeness, authenticity, or intimacy.
James said confess to one another and pray….that you may be *healed.* That works. But it means not only living within a larger community, but going deeper with a few people to experiencing truly being known and loved….and healed.
It was community that sustained me during one of my husband’s deployments. Alone with 4 children ages 18mo to 10, and homeschooling to boot, I was so fortunate to be a part of a church family that took the time to make sure I wasn’t left out of things, that there was an extra pair (or several pairs) of eyes out for the kids when we were at church activities. I even had several young teenage girls who would regularly ask to come home with me after church on Sunday and then shoo me out the door to get groceries. I would return to a sparkling home. This was a place I felt loved beyond measure.
This post is particularly important to me today. My friend, Jill Hollis, passed away this week after a 6 year battle with ALS. Today is her memorial service.
Several of us, including Jill, were in an unofficial club together–we prayed together, we loved together, we cried together, and we laughed together. We knew that we had each other and that kept us accountable.
We were REAL and we were honest and we shared the love of Jesus and the promise that this world is not our home.
What I will miss most about Jill is that I will no longer be able to have those honest and wonderful talks. However, I keep reminding myself that we have all of eternity to catch up.
Southern Gal says
After years of none, I now have dear sweet friends who wish to bring out the best in me. I love them for that. Also our homeshooling group is a community of support and encouragement.
My dad was very ill last year, and it was such a blessing to watch the communities my parents and I have built throughout our lives rise up and act to support us in whatever ways they could. There were definitely days when God’s hand of provision was abundantly clear in the wisdom, giftings and grace he sent to our door in the form of friends and family at just the right times.
I am also an introvert at heart, given the choice I would stay home and enjoy being alone. Thankfully, I have a husband that shoves me out the door and coaches me to get out there and spend time with my girl friends. I have been blessed with an awesome group of girls (we are all around 40, does that make us too old to be called “girls”?) that are always there (even when I am “in hiding”) to lend an ear, offer encouraging words, and support and most importantly DRAG me out of myself to be with them. Thank you Lord for this group of women in my life!
A few years ago, I was a SAHM with no car living in the country near a new town. I was so lonely. Someone I barely knew suggested I go to a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meeting. I cried at my first meeting, I was so happy to be in community with women like me. Since then, I have become a leader in our group, offering support to other local moms.
allison morrison says
A few weeks ago, my water broke at 34 weeks. I was put on bedrest for 4 days until baby Charlie could be delievered safely by C-section. I had numerous visitors from my church family and work family. It was awesome to see how much they cared and how willing they were to help me if I needed anything.
I also am an introvert. My story is very similar to yours I guess only I fell into self-injury rather than an eating disorder. I found community by telling one of my friends about hurting myself, and as much as I worried it would force us apart, t actually brought me the first person I have ever asked to meet up and talk with outside of organized activities.
Marilyn Yocum says
An important truth, this!
The HIDING IMPULSE is strong and what keeps us in it is believing there is nobody we can come clean with. True this: ASK God to identify someone for you, then be alert. It may happen right away. it may take some time, but when your eyes see the one He is pointing out, have the courage to take the step. This has happened to me quite a few times. Often it’s a person already in my life, but not always.
I have been blessed with many good friends — and what a difference they make in my life — but I have 2 that I especially try to share the struggles and hard times with and have some accountability to and the 3 of us can challenge and pray for one another. It helps so much.
Thanks so much for sharing!
:smiles: A bit disconcerting to read what seems to be a reflection in the mirror.
I struggle with comparison. And when I’m not connected, I find myself constantly making lists of who I should or shouldn’t be, what I should or shouldn’t be doing. It is the “realness” of community that breaks the hold of comparison. Accepted for who I am, allowed to see behind the walls of others, challenged to press more deeply into Him…this brings freedom. How I love our small group; it’s like breathing mountain air with them. What a privilege to be real.
Denise Cornett says
We have found community in our church, especially our small group. The one place you would expect to find community, in church, has not been the case for us until this past year. We are surrounded by others who are like family to us and who we enjoy serving and praying with.
This year I would like to get connected in a homeschooling community for our girls & I.
Anna B says
Yes, I definitely have. I have had an ongoing struggle with a particular sin since I was 11 or 12 years old. A couple years ago I opened up to this older couple from my church who were friends of mine, and shared with them and asked them to hold me accountable. They do – and I am so thankful! It doesn’t have to be the whole world that knows – just some accountability changes everything!
Eryn Hall says
I am roped together with my MOPS group. A circle of friends who I know will be there for me thru thick and thin. They have held my hand and lifted me up in some of my darkest times. Just knowing that they are “my” community holds me accountable…to myself, to them, to God.
Thank you so much for your encouraging post. I’ve recently been going through a very difficult time where I’ve felt attacked and cast out by people whom I was very close with in my life. This is a situation in which satan could so easily find a foothold, as I could feel so “justified” to walk out of the church and never come back. Praise Jesus that He has provided me with such a faithful and loving friend who has encouraged and supported me, prayed for me, and made sure to let me know that I am loved and welcomed. Her support has made all the difference. I pray for others to find this kind of encouragement, and pray that I can be this to someone else who is hurting.
God has given me so many wonderful friends and family members in my life. Each one of them is there for a purpose and He puts each person into our lives for a reason… one friend is there to listen, the other is there to give us advice, etc. I realize that God has also put me in the lives of others to serve a purpose as well. I am so blessed to have all of these people in my life!
I so totally could have written every word of this… I share your story – even down to being an only child. Wow!
God has answered so many of my prayers for community in creative ways – community at work (I work in ministry); online community; getting married and creating a family community; and moving me back to a metropolitan area where it is harder to “hide” – the other thing He has done is given me the accountability of blogging… I express myself thru writing, and when my writing tanks emotionally others in my social media community know it and start praying… or emailing… or calling… or texting. All of these things help me from going too far into my shell.
My husband is a worship leader, and a recent church split has taken a toll on our spiritual and emotional well-being. We’ve been blessed with a community of friends (new and old) who have prayed for us, encouraged us and allowed us to share our emotions with them (often until 3am in the morning).
During a time in my life when I was at a fork in the road where the next decision would either lead me down a dark path of sin, or onto the right path back toward the Lord, a friend reminded me that sin loses its power when we bring it into the light. The decision to share my struggle with my group of friends brought that sin into the light. It was the first step in breaking the hold that I had allowed Satan to have over me. I am forever grateful for the community of friends that walked with me through that time.
Erin M. says
After we got married, my hubby and I were just going through the religious motions – going to church on Sunday (getting there late and leaving right afterwards) and not doing much beyond that. After being almost forced into a small group (I kind of wanted to go, he did not at all), we found beautiful community – open, honest, supportive – and it really challenged the way we were living. The accountability and encouragement of community is all the difference in what my walk with the Lord is today.
Becky Mazurek says
I too am a natural born introvert that has had to mold myself in to being an extrovert due to the calling God placed on my life and heart. I am now with effort each day an extrovert for Him and by His Grace. I know I cannot do anything he has called me to do with children and families without His Grace and I sign off each piece of correspondence to remind myself of just that with “By His Grace or Grace in Him or simply Grace,”. I know where the gift is from and by His grace I will continue to be able to use it.
When my mom was ill with cancer, a community of family and friends across several states helped support our family physically, emotionally, and prayerfully! This is only one of many stories…”Let us not abandon the gathering of believers”
Thank you for being so open and honset.It is hard to share our most inner fears and that is where satan wants to keep us. It is amazaing how God works when we open and share with one another.
Mel's World with Melissa Mashburn says
Andrea, my heart just jumps up and down with JOY for you! You shared your heart so transparently, so honestly, so tenderly…thank you for that!
There’s nothing that I love more than real women sharing their real life and how their real faith makes all the difference!
I can not even count how many times I have done this very thing to myself, hid when I wanted to be with people & withdrew when I wanted to be out there, all because I too let the enemy steal my Joy (John 10:10).
It’s still a battle to not walk my self over and into that pit, but thankfully every time I start to get close there is a friend there to help me see me the way God does.
You are beautiful! Thanks girl!
Elaine Pool says
Introvert? check. Eating disorder? check, check (twice). Self-imposed loneliness? check. Community? NEEDING IT!!!!
I work for Young Life, specifically with college kids, and it’s my job to be the community creator and take care of these amazing young adults who God has blessed me in knowing. I also am married and have 2 little kids and a community of incredible, strong and wise moms around me. So here I am working, working, working to make community happen and more often than not I’m the one that reaps the benefits of the body of believers.
Missy June says
My greatest ‘secret’ was the abuse that I endured in my marriage. I will never forget the freedom and healing that came when I finally shared – the cycle was truly broken when I was brave enough for reality to be brought into the light. I found acceptance, help and hope for the future.
The burden of infertility and the pain of six miscarriages has been made lighter by the loving support and prayers from my family and friends.
Noni Bilbrey says
When I was first diagnosed with depression I hid it from all but the closest to me. I was ashamed and felt it was from a lack of faith on my part. After counseling, I realized that I needed the prayers and support of faithful friends. Sharing my own struggle opened doors of opportunity to help and support others going through the same thing. Y
If it hadn’t been for my friends at church there’s no way I would’ve gotten through the last 4 yrs of my life. The devestation of the breakdown of my marriage and my boys not being able to see their dad, would’ve been a completely different experience if it hadn’t been for my church family.
My family is a 3 day drive from me so they weren’t able to be “here” for me. God provided the families in my church who surrounded me and my children during this difficult time.
They watched my kids, gave them rides, let us borrow vehicles, showed up at my hosue while I was at work to help clean the house, etc.
Without God’s provision in this area, I would’ve been sorely tempted to climb into a hole as well.
I recently started a new job, finding it difficult to start over and having to learn new systems, while making new friends and having to prove myself “good enough” Oh what a trap that was…. I was never not good enough in God’s eyes… I was always fearfully and wonderfully made…. His grace before men was all I really needed and when a couple of friends encouraged me from far away, They gave me the empowerment I needed…. God was with me all time, and now after a few months…. I am making new friends, I love my job and my community of friends has grown and I find myself offering help to others…. God’s grace that’s all it is…..
Sandy Wilda says
So good to read this – yes, I too have been blessed with such good friends in times of need….especially around my miscarriage, bed rest and through having several babies. Becoming a Mom has been a “friend” thing for me from early on….God uses dear friends to give courage and grace in times of weakness and need. I am blessed and thankful.
Wow! This is just what I’ve been dealing with this week. I’ve had sin from my past that has nearly destroyed me from the inside out. I was carrying a spirit of rejection and accepting Satan’s lies and denying God’s truth. I had confession with my husband this week. It was so hard to come out and just say it but I did and I can’t tell you how it’s freed me. He accepted me and showed me grace. Not at all the scenario I had imagined it to be. Satan told me that if I told him, our marriage would be destroyed and he wouldn’t want to be with me anymore. Satan is a liar and the father of it!!! It’s been dificult because it has hurt him to know how tramautic an experience it was for me and he feels helpless because it was before we met and he wishes he could change it for me. We’re holding on to our future and relying on the Lord to see us through. Any prayers would be appreciated.
Annie Luidhardt says
When I first became a mom I joined a mother’s group that was huge for me! It was so nice to be with others who were also in the same boat as me! I’m not sure I would have felt normal without that community in my first years of mothering!!
Ohhh, thank you for sharing! Community is a beautiful thing when we are open to letting it speak life into our stories. My story was changed because God placed me in a community where they were real and loving enough to call me out on what I was hiding and give me a chance to come into the light in order to completely change my life. I am so thankful that they did even though it was hard! I would much rather be in the light than hiding. God is still working all things out for good 🙂
I’m an extrovert! It seems that all the introvert people think they have it rough. But I’m here to tell ya….sometimes people make me think I’m crazy for being so friendly or outgoing.
I try to be “normal” because I don’t want to overwhelm anyone with my crazy personality!
I have the best friends in my life. I can always count on them (even though its long distance) to build me up.
A friend that makes you feel great is a friend indeed!
The world has a way of trying to beat ya down sometimes. I’m thankful for true friendships!
My community of friends and family helps me through the small trials as well as the big ones. Currently, they are encouraging me to pursue dreams. I just read that passage in Ecclesiastes again this morning before I read your post. Certainly, God intended us to be involved in relationships. I am so grateful for the ones He has surrounded me with!
Ive always been one to take things on by myself. I don’t know why, but didn’t want to let anyone in on my “seccretness”. I have been dealing with an issue for a few years now that no maatte how hard I try I continue to fall in the same trap.
Recently I opened up to a close friend of mine who is now praying for me daily. Its only one person, but that support ha made me stand taller and give that “issue” a second thought before doing what I know is wrong. Community is an awesome thing to have on your side when you know you need it the most.
as weird as it sounds to people who don’t “get it”, the community of bloggers and other mamas like me who may live on the other side of the country has been phenomenal! what a great way to feel connected!
I experienced community in the most beautiful way when I had to move back home from college, unplanned. I was angry that I had to come home because I had planned on never living here again once I left. I was mad, so mad, and hurt. I had made so many wonderful friends and for the first time in my life I was at a church where I truly felt like I belonged. And then, I come back home and all of my old friends and the familiar has changed, and I hated it. So, I was angry and hurt and not very friendly to anyone. BUT, a few people saw past that. They came along side me and pressed in. I pushed them away, hard, but they kept persisting and kept trying. They weren’t pushy. They just loved on me and showed that they cared, and they didn’t give up. Now, those people are my family. They’ve taken me in and it’s just such a beautiful thing. We’re family, really family there for each other even when things just aren’t so pretty, and we stick through it til they get pretty.
Amber Mainquist says
Absolutely! While I am not an introvert, it is easy for an outgoing person to seek acceptance in the wrong people. When I realized the good Christian people that God had put in my life would not condemn me for my past, but walk with me along that healing road, it was joyful! I thank God every day for the support and friends we have now!
Shawn Bensley says
In my mind the best community one can be part of is a God lead church. My church is my support system and my prayer team.
I remember typing out my first words and sending my blog into cyberspace. I had such a knot in the pit of my stomach, but I needed some connection…a need to be part of a community when I felt I had been stripped. And I have found it…through other mommies who lost children, and this spilled into my real life and I started allowing God to use people to pull me out of my home and listen to my heart. Three cords are better than one, and I am better because of connecting with others…
I’m very much a loner and find it difficult to become part of a community. I’m still working on it.
I have experienced the amazing encouragement like-minded people can bring to your heart and mind. I’m at a period in my life where I’ve become largely socially isolated, which the introvert in me thrives on, but I know is not really a good thing. I do miss my friends very much. Somehow though, it just seems easier to let life carry me along rather than reaching out and figuring what’s going on.
Then again I wonder if the Father purposely has me in a desert time to work through things with Him. How does one tell if the isolation is of the Lord or if it is a bad thing?
There is a group of women I have met with for many years for Bible study and prayer. We don’t meet as often as we used to, but there is a transparency in this group that has made it possible to confess sin and struggles. I am so thankful for these precious ladies.
I have seen this happen when we lost my husbands grandmas. We had so many people come and bring food. They were so supportive.
My Sunday School class is an incredible community! We had not been very involved in the class, but when our daughter was stillborn they rallied around us and showed us support that we will never forget. They fed us, physically and spiritually, and let us know that they were there. They shared their hearts and told me stories of their own losses, it was truly incredible. Now, we hate to miss Sunday School and are very involved in the class and probably more importantly the community of people in the class.
I was actually thinking about this exact thing lately. I am very much an introvert and am still trying to find my community. I make acquaintances very easy, but I find that the label of “friend” is very hard for me to give out. I wonder if it’s just me and how I’m wired, or if there’s something wrong with me. Weirder yet, sometimes I crave solitude and companionship at the same time. I’m trying to become more involved at my son’s school. Since I work, it’s not easy. I think for me, “community” is a changing thing. And I have to keep looking until I can find it and find peace with myself.
I too am an introvert and since getting married 10 years ago, have let my friendships fall aside so that I could commit myself to my marriage and my family. I thought that these relationships alone would supply me everything that I needed. I missed the community with others and because of my introvert nature, found it hard to reconnect with friends and make new friends.
About a year ago I started attending a new church. Part of the reason was to begin fresh and allow myself to open up and try to find new friends. I joined a small group and have slowly come out of my shell and enjoyed the community and fellowship that have blossomed since. It was, and is, hard to not question myself or just give up and turn back into myself. I know the Spirit is leading me to where I’m supposed to be, within the community of Christ. He gives me courage and strength and my small group of sisters have given me friendship and love.
Anjanette Warren says
I attended my uncle’s memorial service last night and wow, the sense of community, of love, was everywhere. Even his mailman came to the service! There was so much community around one life.
Dori Cox says
Even though it’s been many years ago, I received very positive impact from community in my church when I went through my first divorce. My church family surrounded me with their loving arms and held me tight so I would not fall apart, as I had two small boys to take care of. Today, I have a great group of ladies in my church who share together and build each other up continually. Love it! Thanks for sharing!!
Kristin Vanderlip says
I am also an introvert by nature and reaching out to people and meeting new people is intimidating for me. My nature doesn’t match my life, which calls for me to be an Army wife. Meaning, every couple of years I have to start over, meet new people, and become a part of another community. This year was our first move, and we moved from IL to AL. I am so very thankful for the community I made through the Officer’s Christian Fellowship here. They helped me as I struggled with the losses of my daughter and my dad. When I was a thousand miles away from my family and friends, these new friends and new community helped me through the tough times. They prayed for us, brought us meals, checked in on us, and most importantly several of them made me get out of the house, go on walks with them, and so on. They were so encouraging and uplifting to me. They were more than community to me, they became my new family.
I dealt with a similar situation where I was ashamed and felt very isolated. After a lot of prayer, I was finally able to share the truth of my situation with my husband, and find forgiving community with him.
Accountability exists in community! From the biggest to the smallest of reasons, it always has a positive impact when our hearts are soft and pliable by the Lord. Thanks for sharing your testimony!
I am an introvert too so I really related to your post! Also, my parents were not Christians until after I grew up, so I had no idea what “speak the truth in love” meant until I became part of small, all female accountability groups through my church. I don’t know what I would do without the encouragement, love and prayers of my closest friends!
Things that we keep hidden seem to grow larger and larger with each passing day. In the darkness we can’t really see. When we finally turn on the light, the thing we are hiding looks not so large after all.
Thanks for sharing truth!
Several years ago, I had just moved a state away from all family and friends when I was quickly scheduled for surgery to remove what the doctors feared was a malignant breast lump. I put on my brave face yet when I got to the hospital and found a dear friend and her husband had traveled the distance to stand with me til biopsy reports were in, the courage spread from the surface of my face….IN to my heart.
(PS. It was-PTL~benign!)
I have a difficult time reaching out to make a new friend because I often wonder, “Do they really want to spend time with me? Did they say yes to my invitation for coffee just because I asked them, or because they truly want to go to coffee with me?” I had allowed myself to get close to a girlfriend over the last 3 years, but mostly because she was so good at pursuing me and I felt comfortable in the fact that it was a mutual like for one another. In the last year, she has pulled away from me, and my instinct is to give up now and just stay in my comfort zone. However, I have tasted the joy of true sisterhood and I desire that again. So, this morning I am meeting a woman for coffee who I have wanted to get to know better. And I made the invitation!
Heather B. says
I love your heart! You made me laugh and cry! I know what it’s like to isolate yourself. I am at a place that I am feeling so totally alone. I want to connect with others but it just isn’t happening. It seems like when I find someone that I can relate to and want to connect deeper with, the enemy sneaks in and does his “thing”. I get too busy. Or when an opportunity comes along to connect something else comes along and keeps me from it. But I am so glad that God gives me grace. If I didn’t know Him I can’t even imagine what my life would be like. May we all give Him glory and praise for choosing us as His own!!!
Diane Nelson says
God has introduced to the most amazing women through Blessings Unlimited. He has used this community to affirm my gifts, encourage and bless and I can truly be who He made me because of it 🙂
Thank you for your openness. I know it can be hard!
In my circle of friends, there are not many that have a relationship with Christ, but I have one. We share a common bond and help each other focus on God’s word instead of the world’s.
I am an introvert much like you. There’s nothing I enjoy more than sitting at home with a good book and a cup of tea. But I also understand how important community is. God has pushed me far outside my comfort zone time and again, knowing how much I need the fellowship of other Christian women. I need these women to encourage and uplift me during times of struggle. I need them so that I can get outside of myself and love others, even when I, myself, am struggling.
Thank you for your post today. I definitely identified with you.
i am introvert myself. when a storm passed my life i thought i was totally wrecked. i was so weak. i wanted to be alone as ever. though my heart is aching my mind reminded me that i have something bigger to worry about than myself. so i reach out to a friend, then another, then another. their comfort revive my soul; their silence brought peace.then i reach out to God, things will never be the same. can’t thank God enough, really He’s amazing. 🙂
I, too, am an introvert — and very shy. I have a few good friends and my husband was my very best friend. We were practically inseparable. When he passed away, almost two years ago, my world collapsed. Though I was encouraged to join a support group for those who’ve lost a spouse, I didn’t do that. Though I could see the benefits of just such a group, I didn’t think I could do that — talk and share with a bunch of people. My shyness would interfere. I thought it would do more harm than good. I would fret and worry about attending the meetings. Still, I did want to and need to talk about what I was feeling and going through. Most of my friends, I could tell, were uncomfortable around me now that I was a widow and hurting. They loved me and just wanted me to be ok again. God was so good, though, and had already taken care of what I needed. The day my husband and I found out that his cancer had returned, we met the kindest hospital chaplain. Though my husband was her “patient”, she has continued to be there for me ever since. And she has also introduced me to her assistant who lost both a husband and a daughter unexpectedly. She has been a huge help, too. Though my “community” is small, having these two supporting, caring, helpful, and loving ladies come into my life at this time has been the greatest gift.
My grandmother just had a major surgery, as i was starting my second week of my sophomore year, I am still amazed at the community of people who reached out to me, i had friends taking me to the hospital to visit her, friends constantly praying for her and my own sanity. It has and was been such a relief, they’ve been Jesus to me. and I am so thankful.
I could not “do” life without community. I enjoy fellowship – and yet there are times when I hide my deepest hurts and fears – of growing older without a husband, of having a husband and failing at another marriage, of the added pounds that have found me and my lack of motivation to exercise, of the aging process…..I could go on and on. Community helps me stay balanced. Speaking love and care into each other, we can walk this life together. God meant for us to be in community. He loves his daughters and enjoys seeing them love on each other.
Thanks for your post. Your honesty is refreshing.
Ashley C. says
Last night at the Celebrate Recovery service at my church, a dear friend’s mom gave her testimony detailing her struggle with PTSD and severe anxiety and depression. The key to her recovery has been in community: both in a 12-steps class, the Celebrate Recovery community at large, and small groups. The healing she has seen in her life as a result of the Holy Spirit and the community the Lord has surrounded her with has been truly miraculous. What a great, big God we serve!
would you get out of my head?? ha! your words, could have been written about me and while my ‘thing’ wasn’t your ‘thing’, it was the exact same kind of ‘thing’. which, i guess, is sin! i read a post on (in)courage one day this past spring and knew i had to confess my thing to someone. it had been eating. me. up. for the past many years and i hated it. HATED. IT.
my youth pastor’s wife became my community and recently my Bible study group became my community and they all responded with nothing but GRACE. oh goodness, to have them love me like Jesus when i had just confessed all this junk just made me realize how great our God really is. how He can work in the hearts of people preparing them for such a time as this.
great great post andrea. thanks for sharing your struggles and how you’ve overcome! 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing your words. I am a complete introvert by nature who has conditioned herself to be outgoing, funny, positive, etc.
The problem with that is I create a community of friendships where they don’t know the “real” me. Those that break through seem to see the inner light of Jesus and understand my personality and need for quiet regeneration times without me speaking it aloud.
All that said, my community of true friends has been saving grace. My sister is an amazing, impactful part of that community–and I am lucky to say that. I find peace, understanding, and acceptance when I am faced with things I do not understand about myself. In particular, I am at a point in my life where anxiety has become overwhelming; I had no idea it could be so terrifying to feel so anxious. And I thank God that I have believer-friends to share my problems with.
Leigh Kay says
I was just thinking of this earlier in the month…remembering the time that community taught me how we’re meant to live as Christ’s beloveds.
One of my deepest struggles involves self-deprecation bordering on self-hatred when at it’s worst. Satan has danced on the ashes of this struggle too many times. It’s something that is under the surface, I compose myself well (out of much practice) to the outside world – yet there is always inner workings. We are all familiar with them in our own way.
In college, I was in a season of particular downward-spiral times, and I somehow gathered the courage to ask a small core group of my friends to my house. It was a busy time, with finals happening and incidentally my birthday was coming up. With some help, they all came to sit with me in my apartment and listen. I opened up about the reality of what I was facing, and what forces were at work within me. I don’t know about anyone else, but open vulnerability causes me to physically and visibly shake a bit. When I’m unnerved, it is openly effective. What should not have been a surprise, was the loving way which my friends responded.
They listened quietly, and at the end, did not bombard me with platitudes of what they felt they should say — they simply spoke in loving, delicate truth. They were now aware how they could help me in this battle, how they could stand guard with me and lift me up. They hadn’t known (how could they guess), and because I was honest with them, they informed me how thankful they were that they knew better how to show me God’s grace and love and support.
Not long after that, I realized why everyone had been so busy during those days of our meeting. Long before that day, they had been planning a surprise for my birthday. Weeks of planning and long nights, produced a gift I have never forgotten and still have to this day. Handmade and brimming with the love they wanted me to feel long before I showed I needed it.
Christ’s love is life-changing. And that day I learned, that the way God’s children gather together, to cherish one another – is the mirrored image of that love. I found richness and glory, in the treasure of true community and encouragement of the body. I have never forgotten it.
Melanie J says
Andrea…I struggle with my relationship with God. I try my best to do my best. I have 5 children and my husband and I are trying make a life for us all. We are Christian but I will admit that we dont attend service very often. I do pray at home and teach the children to as well. I feel alone alot of the time and wish that I had that sense of community that you talk about. I hope that your prayer to find 1-2 people will happen for me. I have a few friends but I dont respect their morals or lifestyle so therefore I really cant open myself to them without them judging me. I cant be supported by people who are living the life God wants for them. A line that I have become very close to is GRACE WILL LEAD ME HOME. I pray and know that this is true for me!
Krista @ Life in Texas says
I have a great relationship with my in-laws. We lived with them for a year when moving to their corner of the world. In the two years since we got our own place and moved down the road, we have remained close.
Two weeks ago, they came to our house at the tired end of a long summer of too much time together and basically blamed us, specifically me, for ruining the just-ended visit of one of the other brothers. I was devastated.
In the wake of their angry visit, I first wanted nothing more than to emotionally remove myself from their lives. But that’s what the enemy wants. We are a strong family that desires to honor God with our actions, so I know we can’t just smooth over the missteps of the vacation or the inappropriate confrontation by settling into a new habit of surface relationship.
They had courage to confront me/us for things that frustrated them. It blew up. I want to have equal courage to approach them back in loving confrontation, because they need to grow from this exchange as much as I have. It scares me because it may blow up again.
But I have been around long enough to know the truth of what you said, that the enemy lives in the dark, in the hidden places. As a family we will continue to address this until we are back in restored relationship. Because failure simply is not an option. The enemy doesn’t get to win in this family.
Beth Werner Lee says
I can SO relate! I’m not an introvert or an extrovert but both at different times. And it’s been a really rough 3-4 years. But this summer I got to fly back to my summmer camp community and was really really blessed by the love of old friends. My heart feels renewed. Now I’m back in the home/school daily round and praying daily for God’s love to be poured out into my heart and out to others. Need that daily prayer!
I am a bit of an introvert. I really prayed for a “real” friend a few years ago and another friend started up a Bible study that was what my soul needed. Unfortunately we have both moved to other areas of the country now and I don’t have that anymore…..
Beautiful post. I’ve been very aware recently of how we all have things we hide or insecurities and we look at everyone else and think we’re the only ones. Why on earth do we do this to ourselves? The minute we open up, we find that there is company in those insecurities. When we isolate ourselves, we have no room for the encouragement and love we so desperately need. While I don’t always advocate spilling everything to everyone, there is great value in one or two close friends with whom you can trust those deep, dark secrets. And then the healing can begin. Thank you so much for this lovely reminder.
I really have to say that I haven’t experienced community like this, but in reading this, God really laid something on my heart. Two days ago my friend asked me if I would share my testimony with our bible study group. I actually had this on my heart, as well. God has spoken to me through this post that I need to do this. I need to open up and share. I believe that once I do, I will stop circling my mountain, also. Thank you for sharing, God is good.
When I went through my miscarriage last year and subsequently shared my experience a year later, I was amazed at how women that I barely even knew came out of the woodwork to support me. God provided these blessed souls to sustain me through a time of great need and I will be forever grateful.
As a major introvert myself your post absolutely spoke to me. I’ve been in this same place over and over despite discovering that life is better when I reach back out to my community. Most recently my community has helped me in realizing I wasn’t a failure at parenting – when I opened up I learned our family was not the only one of our kind.
Never have I appreciated the power of community more than after having children. The meals, support and willingness to help from so many have touched us deeply and made our ability to care for our children. Also recently I’ve become part of a wonderful group of women with whom I get to study the Bible and when my laid off husband just signed a contract for a new job it was encouraging seeing the joy these women had for us and knowing their prayers were a part of this answered blessing.
This was such a touching post..i am definitley in agreement about isolation and how it keeps you believeing lies…luckily I have a tight group of about 4 friends that will uplift me when I need it and will tell me if something seems off…thanks so much for sharing…
Great post – thank you for being so transparent with us!
I’ve just recently experienced the power of community – not so much with something I was trying to hide from, but with something that seemed impossible to tackle. My dear sisters in Christ have over and over again spoken God’s truth into my life and without them even realizing it, God used each of them to speak to me and to encourage me to step out in faith.
And as I obediently step God continues to show me I am not in this alone. Not only is He with me, but he has gathered a community of women around me to support me in this step.
I thank God for the power of community and how he uses it in our lives.
I am blessed with daughters and a few close friends who lift me up, encourage me and set me on the right paths. God has provided them for me and I am so, so thankful.
Makisha Howell says
My family has been going through a rough time and just this past Monday a couple of men who attended a church we visited showed up. I was at wits end but just their visit helped me get in a better mind set.
Debby A. says
During my father’s lengthy bout with cancer which ended with his death 14 weeks ago, our church family was a true example of community. Also, very similarly to Jamie’s comment above, the people who had been touched by my parents thruout their lifetime formed another community in our very difficult time. Their loving concern and support was and has continued to be a lifeline for our family….what a blessing!! Thanks for sharing your story.
tiffany day says
hi — yes i have benefited from community. One that sticks out the most was aout 7 years ago we had a fire in our kitchen – the police, firemen and neighbors that rushed to help were amazing. it was in the middle of the night and we had offers to sleep at a neighbors house, food was made for us and the next day the fire captain drove by to check on us. Additionally our church organized people to come help us pack what we needed to leave with while our house was cleaned and de-smoked. Then once we moved back in – we again received help with re-assembling our home.
i was beyond humbled and blessed without the support and help the tasks would have been so daunting – its so true that the good in people really does shine when we need it most!
Shari Yeager says
I’ve always struggled with completing anything. I start and stop projects or goals and never seem to achieve the goal. Three months ago, a small group formed at my church that was centered on fitness and healthy eating. I joined and the support God has brought me through that group of people has made it possible to actually start achieving some of the goals I’ve set. And it’s spilling into other areas of my life. I actually have hope that I’ll complete more goals and I’m having such fun doing it.
Savannah B says
As odd as it seems, I have found an amazing community on Twitter.
It started as a place for me to record the antics of my kids as a stay-at-home-mom. It evolved into a place to connect with people in my own town and across the nation. Little Rock, Arkansas has monthly “TweetUp” meetings, and almost one hundred people attend these meetings to laugh, and tell stories, and love each other. Through the online community of Twitter, we have welcomed new babies, celebrated weddings, and mourned the loss of life together. We go play in the park with our kids, we have Girls Time lunches, we do fun and meaningful things together. It has moved from a micro-blogging service to a real community of friends and family, and I’ll be eternally grateful for that.
Lindsey van Niekerk says
I am the opposite. I am a complete extrovert….yet I feel most connected with a circle of few who really and truly know me.
A great memory that I have of “community” is with one of my bffs in college. I was VERY busy my senior year with work, classes, leadership responsibilities, and planning for life after graduation. I had Friday afternoons “free” to catch up on all of my odds and ends. She did too. And instead of just taking time to herself (SHE is an introvert), she spent every Friday with me helping me check off my list for the week. It was so special to me and my extroverted heart to be valued in this way!
I was super blessed to live with a houseful of Christian women in college which happened to be a time in my life that I was very vulnerable in a journey to find myself and my faith. I simply couldn’t have done it without them and thanks be to God, those few years have influenced the rest of my life! **at the same time, one of my best friends living in that house was battling an intense eating disorder that she was able to work through because of the support of us all.** So blessed! Thanks for the chance – I LOVE LOVE LOVE “Grace”!!!
I go through periods where I avoid talking on the phone and send everything by email. You become so isolated and can be so misunderstood because no one hears how you meant things to come across. As soon as I reopen the connection of speaking directly with someone, I’m almost like a soda bottle where all the bubbles fizz out when the lid is taken off. I feel this release and a sense that a weight has been removed. God really intends for us to minister to each other, to reward us with that sense of peace when we do so.
I am blessed with a group of women (“sisterchicks”) who have taught me the meaning of grace. They encourage me to share openly & honestly – ugly cry and all – when my introverted side wants to hide (or the enemy tries to convince me that my struggle isn’t important), they never judge, and they always pray. It’s a beautiful example of what community – and the church – can really be like if we put God first.
I have experienced 2 miscarriages in the last year. We don’t live near family, so our family is our church family. They were such a blessing during our times of sorrow. Meals were brought in, couples came and prayed with us at the hospital, a friend brought doughnuts and milkshakes. 1 Friend just came and talked for hours, letting me pour my heart out. We are so blessed and try to pass that blessing on to others who are hurting.
I’m a people person but up until this last year I never really had a community. I always seemed to be on the outside of things. I have friends but not a group to be apart of. At the end of last year I became unemployed and then shortly after that my husband and I separated for the second time. He had an affair and we were supposed to be working on our marriage but he chose to continue down another path. It was completely devestating to me and to top it off I still didn’t have a job. So my whole world was upside down.
I have since found a group of women who some of which have been down a similiar path as I have. I have found real community with them. I found I could be open with them about what happen and not feel rejected. I was ashamed of the situation I was in, I felt rejected and abandoned and thought people would look down on me for not being able to keep my husband but instead I found peace, reassurance, acceptance and community. We encourage one an other and lift each other up. I found these women while in a training group to be a mentor (at my church). While training to be mentors we became good friends and mentored each other.
I would tell any one who is struggling with anything, to keep hope and find a group of people who you can find community in. Because no matter what your going through, you are not alone!! If you seek it God will provide. Community helps lift the burden, weight off your chest.
Have a blessed week!!
I can totally relate to so many parts of your post. Thanks for being so open and honest, it helps us all…
NIkki Zyp says
Nearly a year ago we took a chance and moved in with close friends, that’s two families of four combined into one, 5 bedroom house! We did it for the expressed purpose of experiencing community, Christ-like, living together. It has been one of the best experiences in my life! There are ups and downs but I have seen God work in all of our lives in so many ways. I feel so blessed by this little community.
Beth Williams says
Boy can I relate!! Some days I just want to stay home with my hubby & 2 Iguanas, Iggy & Tiny, & a cup of tea. My hubby and I are not fans of crowds. I crave a little company & the enjoy ment of friends.
The times I was unemployed were bad for me. I would stay at home & “hide out”. To embarrassed to tell anyone or ask for assistance. I usually turned down invitations to go anywhere & do anything.
Thankfully God brought me through my times & has given me a good job with wonderful co-workers.
Andrea, your story is so similar to mine, adding wine to the list of foods! Only through the AA community have I been able to TRULY, FINALLY ACCEPT God’s amazing love and grace and my self, as I am… In our 12 step group, it is often said let us love you til you can love yourself. For me, that has been about learning through their acceptance and gentle love, how God truly is (very different from the god in my mind before) I am on the journey to loving myself, but I have found the way to accept God loving me and that is transforming my heart and life!
Sarah Gail says
Thank you for this post. I’m an introvert too and tend to spend too much time alone in my mind. It is fertile soil for Satan’s lies. This is a good reminder to not allow myself to dwell in the pit.
About 7 weeks ago I had a freak farm accident and broke my back. I have been in a brace since then and will be for another 4 weeks. I have had a meal made for my family EVERY night by friends, family, church family, and my small town community of people. And my recovery is going well. Prayer and communtiy of people to support you is AMAZING. God is GOOD ALL THE TIME.
Melanie S. says
Aaaaaggghhhhhh!!!!! Andrea! Wow, wow & wow! And thank you so much for sharing your heart with us here! I too am an only child and can absolutely relate to the making up words, introverted/extroverted all-at-the-same-time nature! HA! I too have struglgled with shame, guilt, isolation, o man, you name it! I should be on to satan’s cunning! After all, he’s used the same silly ol tricks since Adam and Eve in the Garden! He’s not even that crafty to change his MO!!! Ugh, but we too often and too quickly forget God’ precious holy word that quickens our hearts! That leads us back to Life, Love, Acceptwnce, Forgiveness. But let us remember that in Our weakness, He is glorified and strong! Let us boast in Him!!! Blessings to youcand your readers, Andrea!
Soli Deo Gloria!!!
My husband an I have been in a small group through our church for almost 4 years. It continues to astound us how thankful we are for the support of that very precious community. We have shared joy, sorrow, longing, patience, and growth with each other over the years, and it has been an amazing journey.
I haven’t been posting lately, and I am so glad I read this. Yes, I have benefited greatly from those who have stood with me in prayer and support. I have found some bloggy friends to be an encouragement as well.
Thank you for this post. I will have to also pass this along to my sister Rena who will be a perfect recipient of that wall hanging… ie: Insert Grace Here… ha!
several years ago, when my husband and i were in the ministry AND having marital problems, i was so afraid to be open and share them with anyone. one day, when i felt desperate, i opened up to a friend…an act which finally allowed me (and us) to move toward healing.
thank you for you post…
Vicki Foss says
I’ve struggled with weight and food issues as well. Many years ago I dealt with the suicide of the man I was dating. AND I’ve been divorced twice. I could NEVER have persevered through the ups and downs of life without my dear family and friends. My life is blessed daily by them. Thanks for sharing.
My life was greatly impacted by the strength and support of community both during my four-year separation from my husband, and then again during all three of his overseas deployments since our reconciliation. The Lord has meticulously placed incredible church families in our lives through each and every trial, and we have felt His love and strength through them in amazing ways. I will be forever grateful to our church families for their love, support, and boundless giving during the times I felt so empty!
“Community” ~ my local church body surrounded me when I felt I could hardly “breathe” following a betrayal by another who called themselves “Christian.” These fellow believers prayed with me, cared about the hurt and didn’t ask detailed questions when I couldn’t speak of the hurt. God has designed a good thing in the body of Christ. He knew we needed each other.
Yes!!! I have a dear friend from college…we got engaged the same night, married two weeks apart, our kids are all within months of each other in age (together we have 9! she had twins the last time around. =0) About a year ago, I overhauled how we eat for medical reasons and it was very taxing to say the least. I was doing a ton of research, etc. She did this with me hand in hand and even read this super long book so that she would know what I was talking about. It really meant a lot to me for her to go these extra steps without being asked. I still get choked up thinking about it.
Ten years ago, God assembled a circle of women who didn’t know each other all that well. Yet each of us had a growing hunger to know Him better, to love our husbands, and to love our children. As we began meeting around the word of God week after week, God knit our souls together in a way that was inseparable. Through trials of many kinds, God used our relationships to remind us of His Truth; to whisper His promises into the lives of one another. Though one of us now lives very far away, the bond between us remains stronger than ever.
The thing that comes to mind, is when my hubby and I were unsure if we would be able to cont living here, we were scurrying around looking for a house. It was very stressful. But we KNEW that if we couldnt’ find something and needed to temp. move somewhere there are so many people we could live with–friends and lots of family. We were so overwhelmed to realize that. We would never end up on the street, cuz we do live in community!
I am just beginning to see the importance of freindship myself. Great post!
Tracy Smith says
Andrea, your post was honest, refreshing and real. I have been in the pit. I like being out of it much better!
On October 17th, 2008- I gave birth to my youngest son by csection. He was born with Spina Bifida. Because I was high risk we had to drive about 3 hours away from home so my son could be born at the hospital where my high risk resided. He was in the NICU for 3 and a half weeks. Those 3 weeks seemed to go on forever. We lived out of a hotel and ran out of money. But, we knew that God was watching out for us when we received a call that we had a whole bunch of money being wired to us… Because of prayer and people’s kindness, generosity and caring we were able to stay close to my son the whole time he was in the NICU. I will never forget that… I considere myself an introvert too and there are some days when I don’t even want to get out of bed. I get down in the dumps from my son’s disability. But, my boys keeps me going and my friends who love me so much are such an encouragement and are always there when I need them- even though they are far away. I couldn’t do this without all of the support and love that we get and most importantly God. I know he watches out for each and every day…
Victorious in Him says
My small group of women believers – the Lifeliners – brought me through the most devastating experience of my life – the emotional/verbal and physical abuse from my Christian husband. Newly married, newly a believer, my head was spinning and my life was a big secret to everyone around me. I believed so many lies, and was such a new believer that I didn’t know what I didn’t know! (Remember those days?) They would pray over me, recite or read Scripture to me, counsel me, reach out to me to have lunch once a week, cry with me, man-bash with me when needed (laugh with me here). They saved my life with the love of Jesus! God had a plan when I answered an invitation to a “tea” at church led by the women’s ministry. They saved me. The story has a happy ending; yes my husband and I are still together, yes, there isn’t the slightest hint of any kind of abuse in our marriage, and yes, the Lifeliner friends that I made 5 + years ago are still together and around and expanding out to reach other women! God blessed me in the biggest storm of my life with a rainbow of women friends and I am forever grateful
Karla Huey says
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I have experienced community in many ways in the past few weeks in our town. A few days ago my 9 year old daughter’s classmate was stuck by a car while walking home from school. Thankfully he will recover.
Perhaps the most beautiful expression of community is coming from his classmates. They are talking through the event and sharing tears, prayers and encouragement for the boy and each other, almost instinctively. They made him cards and are preparing a sunshine box to take to him next week full of treats and activities. It’s been a blessing to watch these future moms/dads and leaders take care of their own. (Their teacher is petty amazing, too, to let them work through this!)
I had to laugh though when I first told my daughter about the accident and that the boy will be home soon, her first reaction was her plan to take the family dinner when he got home and to send them a card letting them know we would be praying for them and the driver of the car. (because that’s what you do when someone needs help) We are truly blessed to have some pretty great kids!
Amy M says
A few years ago we had moved to a new community and had just started to go to a new church when our then 10yo daughter contracted bacterial meningitis. She was hospitalized for 3 weeks….it was a very dark and scary time but this church jumped right in with meals and babysitting so I could go and be with my daughter…several members slipped money into my hand and one wonderful lady cleaned my whole house…I barely knew these people, yet I have never felt so loved. Their support and love was incredible, not to mention their praying constantly for us…our daughter made a full recovery…..I will never forget how God used these children of His to bless our life and help us through a difficult time….
December Rose says
Beautiful post, Andrea… I totally understand where you are coming from. I am making a healthy lifestyle change with accountability (community). It’s working, but I confess there are times I want to “break from the community”… yet I know my motive is because I can’t “cheat” when I have to be accountable to someone else. Encouraging women to find 1-2 trusted friends to support you keeps you honest – and provides more fun on the journey!
Kacey McQueen says
Andrea, while I haven’t dealt with an eating disorder, I have dealt recently with an unhealthy attachment to a particular online farming game. One day I was compelled to stop and see what I was doing with my time. I felt an obligation to not only stop playing, but to share my story about it on my blog. The sense of freedom is overwhelming once a problem like this is shared. Thank you for sharing your story, I’m sure it will have an impact on many!
I have at my church. People always reach out to people that are going through illness, death and births. They are always there when I need them. I can truly count on them.
Reagan groom says
I have had good Christian friends but have only experienced true community in the past few years. These people have been by my side through the transition to one income as I stay home with my kids now. They were present in my hospital room the night after I delivered my second child. They have been my support through a working husband going back to school. And have prayed many a prayer for friends, family, neighbors, personal challenges and triumphs. We have grown together in sharing our hearts and praising God together in one chorus. Now that I am experiencing true community, I don’t know how I ever went along without it.
Rachel @ the science of music says
I am definitely an introvert, too. I’d much rather stay home than meet new people. The probelm with that, is like you, it’s so easy to hide and withdraw into yourself.
The thing is, I’m happier, more “alive” and a MUCH better parent when I’m involved in some kind of community. I have to learn that lesson over and over, though, as we’ve moved and I’m still finding a community to which I should belong.
Jeannie Murray says
I moved to a new area without having a single friend and in 4 years God has blessed me with the most amazing friends. We all live within a mile of each other and we have become our own little community. When we hear someone is in need the 4 of us rally together to help gather groceries to a struggling friend or assist in community projects so we can be an example of christian sisters to others. I have always prayed that I could be in a place with others who love the Lord as I do. So know when someone ask me how am I, my response is always abundantly bless. No matter how hard the day is I know someone else is hurting more and it makes me think, how can I be a better servant.
Ashley R. says
My Grandfather stood faithfully by my Grandmother for 55 years of marriage. Despite the fact that she had a nervous breakdown 3 months before their wedding and was never the same. His family did not want them to be married; they did not think a prominent Doctor should have a mentally ill wife. She spent most of her life in bed, while my Grandfather worked hard to support their 3 boys. I am thankful that he did, or else I wouldn’t be here! When she died, I was awed by the outpour of support for my Grandfather from the community. (He is involved in EVERYTHING from church to city council) It was through community that he was able to cope with her death. He is a role model in my life because he chose to trust God and stand by his wife in sickness.
I have found that just taking a big breath and confessing a struggle or a failure causes other women to chime in with their own similar trials, simply to encourage you with the reality that you are not alone in your walk. The Enemy tries to make you believe that you are inferior because of your struggles, that everyone else has it all together, and it is a lie. A burden shared is so much easier to bear.
Community, for me, has been allowing someone to look deep into my eyes when they ask me the question, “How are you?” And it’s accepting that they really want to know… it’s so easy for me to say “Fine, how are you?” and move on, but as hard as it is to pause for a moment, think about where I am, and answer honestly, there’s a crack in my wall that appears every time, and the light begins to shine through.
Community has been a large part of how God has changed my life, and it is still is. I’m thankful for the relationships God has given me – new and old friends, younger, older, as well as in different places in life and in the world.
I, too, am that introvert that would choose home over anywhere every time. But during this season, God has different plans for me and a community of friends is my lifeline. This season is a very public one – my husband is running for state senate and campaigning is hard and oh, so very public. And God is opening ministry doors for me that I could not have even dreamed about and oh, so very public. With a grateful heart I count on this community of friends to encourage me and keep pushing me out the door.
a few years ago I joined a ladies’ class at my church, and I found my community there. We’re all different ages, all different backgrounds and walks with the Lord, but that’s why it’s so awesome.
Christina Burrell says
After our daughter died, our church family surrounded us with prayer, presence, provision, and tears. We felt wrapped in the arms of God-wrapped in the arms of love. Her name was Savannah GRACE :).
I feel like I could have wrote this blog myself.
I too am a introvert. I like to think I am just shy or have social-anxiety, but I often try to hide from friends and other.
I found community by a friend seeking me out. She knew I was having a problem and challenged me and made me face her. I still have my days, but Thank God for her those days are not as often.
God’s grace is so abundant, and often we live with it all around us but close our eyes to make it invisible. I was raised by a verbally and emotionally abusive mother. The story is long, but to make it short — I was the middle child — a girl between two boys. It seemed that I received the brunt of her temperamental lashings. I would cry and then be punished for crying. I almost wished she would spank me — at least then she could see the marks on my legs. She couldn’t see the marks on my heart.
My shame and embarassment came one day when, as a first-time mom, I became angry with my darling baby son, then only 3 months old. He had cried solid for what seemed a lifetime. I had no support from my husband, who had managed to isolate me from friends. And the church we were in somehow managed to not see the women and their needs.
That afternoon I picked up this joyous baby boy, still wailing at the top of his strong lungs, and screaming at him, I threw him into his crib so hard he hit the mobile, it broke, he cried louder, and then I broke into a million pieces. I was going to be my mother. I could be abusive if I let myself sink into the depths of what I’d learned from her.
I dropped to my knees, I held my baby’s hand, and I prayed for forgiveness. This is the first place I have spoken of this incident and I suppose I didn’t realize all these years just how ashamed I am or was of this action. I knew that day God had forgiven me — His grace was sufficient.
My son is now 38, a grandpa, and a successful businessman. I’m so proud of him, and I’m so in love with my God who forgives us all. Abundant grace — plenty for all!
Definitely! I’ve been blessed by a great group of friends from many walks of life. Now that I moved to a new state 3 months ago, I’m creating a new community. It’s an interesting dance- getting to know these new friends, testing the waters of trust- but I know that this is my new home and the community will come in time.
Your story and your words are so encouraging! Thank you!
Community has meant SO much to me throughout my life. Recently, especially, the women in my accountability group have been amazing. It’s such a blessing to have a group of women who “get” me and still love me 🙂 I know I can share the deepest parts of my heart with them.
Though I have had much encouragement from community, the most sanctifying experiences I have had in community has been an honest look at my sin. I had a moralistic Armenian background and usually thought I was doing pretty good in my walk. But community showed me the depth of my sin, and therefore I have more completely seen the enormity of God’s grace! When my sin was small, so was the work of Christ, but when the rabbit-hole of my sin was revealed, so was the mighty work of God. “Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more” Romans 5:20.
Michelle F says
My community of support is my cousin – who is more like a sister – in fact, we call each other our soul sisters. She & I can tell each other anything & through love, tears, & grace & laughter, we make to the other side. Otherwise, I’m pretty introverted when it comes to opening up about the tough stuff. Being a part of the (in)courage group as a reader & sometime commenter has helped me be more confident in sharing with my face-to-face peers. I’m still working through the process 🙂 thanks for sharing your heart with all of us.
I am the oldest in my circle of close friends. My daughter was the first to go to college two years ago and my friends were there for support. This year I have my second child (and youngest) going away to school. My friends have children the same age that are going off to school but it is their oldest, they both have two more at home. I am now an empty nester, my son is at a secular school 6 hours away. My community of friends have contacted me often via texts, emails and phone calls they have also contacted my son just to offer an encouraging word or verse (he is pretty lonely). It has been a wonderful HUG from my friends that I will be returning in a few weeks when their kids move in to the dorms.
Community or “sharing in common” reminds me of the word fellowship and what a bilical word that is. Jesus was always in fellowship with people and i believe desires the same for us. we can draw so much encouragement and peace form our fellow believers whether we know them or not. my fellow sisters in christ whom i know and whom i do not are so dear to me in my walk with Christ. thank you andrea for sharing your special story with us. i pray for you and am thankful to know you as my sister in Christ.
I have a wonderful group of coworkers who are so supportive of personal struggles as well as the challenging work we do. God is good!
Becky S says
I have become very thankful for my community of women friends, who have become the sisters I never had. Sharing, praying, and playing with my “sisters” helps me to focus on the important when it’s so easy to be distracted, and encourages me when dealing with the challenges of special needs children.
Our community, which begun as a Bible study home group, has been such a blessing to us. They were there for us after the birth of our second child, prayed us through a time of unemployment, and have provided friendship and fellowship that we desperately needed in our lives.
Cyndi Spivey says
Absolutely! Last year I lost my Mom and without my friends and family I could not have made it.
jodi @ back40life says
I had a wonderful group of college roommates and several of us are now back in the same church together again – it’s a beautiful thing!
I am an introvert too but when neighbors in my cal-de-sac get together it’s like our own little community. We all help each other. It’s great to have such great neighbors near.
I have been kept from falling deep into many pits by the love and strength of friends. I can’t imagine a life without the binding cords of friendship/community. People who can speak the truth in love – who know you better than you know yourself and love you no matter what.
Ardyce McCormack says
My husband has been diagnosed with dementia–beginning of Alzheimers. Sometimes I just want to stay home, and keep him home with me. He has a tendency to get confused with driving; but he wants to drive, and still is a good driver. So–I go with him and we enjoy the country side with my directions. We still go to church and he loves to greet the people there and sing praises to the Lord. The men now offer to take him to some of the meetings of organizations he belongs to, so that he can be with them–snd I can have a time to myself. What would I do if I didn’t have this community around me?
I to am a person who tends to isolate herself. I would always worry about saying or doing the wrong thing and what people will think, especially since my husband is a pastor. However, I do have a couple older ladies in our church that have helped me get out of that way of thinking and have helped me to see the woman God has created me to be. I have learned so much from them and now have started helping others that feel the same way.
I can’t even begin to explain how much this post spoke to me. Thank you… I have experienced community through moving to a new city and finding 3 girls that I can confide in and trust. They are my community here. The more that I have opened up to them… the more I have come to know Jesus, the more I have healed!
I suspect my experience with true community probably saved my life. It definitely led me to a place of healing and recovery from my own food issues. I spent many years living in the dark with my illness. I was afraid if the people I cared about knew the “real me” they would walk out of my life. And that seemed like a price too high to pay. I was full of shame and embarrassment. But through community I have discovered that there are safe places where you can be real about who you are and what you struggle with. Once the secrets see the light of day, they no longer have power. And now I am watching God redeem my story and use it to helps others in their struggle. It feels great to be free!
Community has been a huge part of my life in many aspects. Most recently my community of christian sisters and friends at the church preschool where I work have helped me in ways they are not even aware of. Just their positive presence and laughter make me smile.
Stephanie H. says
We have no family where we are currently living. We have our church family and last year my daughter became seriously ill and nearly died in my arms when she was 6 weeks old. Our church family became our strength, our prayer warriors, our food delivery, our daycare, our teachers since we homeschool. Everyone helped us through this difficult time and we are ever grateful.
My story so very similiar too! Thank you for sharing yours! I too found my out through a few good friends and online community, and God, or course!!! Blessings!
Jennifer O. says
What a great article. I’m still working on this issue, actually–the introversion and fear of community, I mean. Recently we moved from a very large church to a very, very tiny one. It is so easy to remain anonymous in a large church, and I’m very comfortable in the bubble of anonymity. But, in the tiny church…not so much. However, in the last two weeks we’ve been attending this church, we’ve had so many genuine people say hi to us, ask us how we are, if we need anything, just sweet words without any pushiness at all. Usually I keep my head down and avoid eye contact with people at church–I know, it’s bad. I actually get nervous talking to people, and have a hard time thinking of what to say. I have so many friends I email with, not too many I actually speak to often. But, at this new church, I’m actually feeling drawn to this tiny community, and I too feel like it’s the Holy Spirit in me giving me that nudge to be a part of a church family. I’ve never had that before, and I’m very excited, although a bit scared too. But I look forward to going back. I don’t feel nervous or afraid to go, to see people who will talk to me and recognize me, and to interact. I don’t feel like I have to put on the “Sunday mask”, the “meet-and-greet” face that so often I’ve put on just so that I can force myself to reply to someone’s “hello.” I’m fearfully introverted, and have gotten more so over the years, but now I feel like I have a place (outside of my home and my family) where I can be myself, and be accepted and loved, and I can return those favors. I feel very encouraged. Thank you again for this article, and for sharing your story. By the way, I’m not an only child. I’m not sure why I’m introverted!! 🙂
Thank you for sharing your heart. It has blessed me in so many ways. I’m just beginning my climb back into light. Your post assures me I’m on the right path. That I do need people, a few good friends, who are there when I need someone. Depression, anxiety have stollen my joy, and I allowed it. I have a chronic illness, but it’s not me, it’s not who I am. I lost sight of that, lost sight of my Father, allowed the enemy in, and take hold.
I lost control of everything, I had thought, even knowing in my heart God had control, I tried to steal back control, and started down a vicious path of an eating disorder. Wrong move!! I’m so thankful for my spouse and a few close friends, who recognized my falling into darkness and reached out and grabbed me and haven’t let go!! I praise God daily for them!
Thank you again for sharing, it has brought great encouragement to my heart.