About the Author

Melissa Michaels is the NY Times Bestselling author of Love The Home You Have and The Inspired Room book. Her blog, The Inspired Room, was voted Better Homes & Gardens Readers' Favorite decorating blog in 2014 and 2015. Melissa is a church planter's wife and a mom to three human kids and...

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    • I loved to read about how you were serving in small churches fulfilling needs for so many years, even when you yourself were in the wilderness. You were certainly the hands and feet and heart of Jesus to those people, so few are willing to serve like that. That is life-giving community right there and I’m sure God blessed your effort in ways you may not even realize!

  1. Encouraged by your words today. Often we need community the most when we have this deep desire to pull out and away. To seclude ourselves and isolate ourselves. But oh how life-giving community infuses us with encouragement, energy, shared passion and pulls us out of ourselves. Thanks for sharing this in a lovely way this morning.

    • It is so hard to press forward when we want to pull away, isn’t it? We just want to wrap ourselves up in bubble wrap because it is so risky to be vulnerable. But when we remember who we are in Christ and what He can do through our brokenness, oh just imagine the gift we can share with someone else!! That is the beauty of a life-giving community, it is a gift we give and it comes back around to heal us too.

  2. Thought-provoking!

    The main reason that I draw back from being in community is simply “I don’t want to be hurt again”. And while the grace of our Lord is healing me, I just can’t bring myself to go past a certain point of intimacy. You’ve nailed it–its all about me. 🙁

    • I completely understand, it is hard to be vulnerable, brave and risk more rejection and hurt in community. I’m praying you’ll feel the love, grace and power of God empowering you to reach out right through that pain. Bless you, June.

    • June,

      I strongly relate to what you say, but I disagree that it’s necessarily because “it’s all about me [you].” I have moved around a good bit in my life and I have been a member of more churches than most people. In the almost-60-years that I’ve attended, I, too have learned to erect boundaries. Unfortunately, just because the name says “church” doesn’t mean it’s a safe place. It also doesn’t mean that “leadership” will accept you if you don’t meet their sometimes rigid requirements. Jesus was the most “at odds” with “religious” folk. With sadness, I’ve grown to believe things haven’t changed that much…

      • It is so important to be a part of a life-giving, bible teaching, community building church. I believe those do exist and they are worth seeking out. If the leadership is committed to teaching God’s word and helping the church community to follow the example of Christ and people are growing in faith, it should be a safe place to invest yourself in. No church is perfect, of course, and there are always going to be people who are difficult, but a good church is going to challenge people to grow in community and become more Christlike people. I hope you both find that kind of community to be involved in!

    • Oh yes, it is so hard! I think often we want the benefit first, and I think God wants to see our faithfulness first. And as He promises, the rewards and unexpected blessings follow!

  3. Thanks for your wrestling with this subject. I was just at the Calvin Faith and Writing Festival and a group of bloggers that I was in was asked this question.

    I was able to share how for 6 1/2 years I struggled to find community where I am: small town (most people have family) and FINALLY, the Lord answered a constantly through up prayer. I NEED MORE COMMUNITY. We started teaching inner healing prayer small groups in our church and as we’ve gotten healed and the roots have begun to spread, vulnerable and loving Community is forming. Maybe just now after teaching/wrestling with my own issues I’m finally ready to move into sharing my heart as well?

    So thankful. Now instead of being a voice in the wilderness, I find myself being the voice of the community, writing what we are all learning. New. And, I have such a knowledge that it is all gift…take off your shoes holy.

    • That is wonderful, I love how God can use us in so many personal ways to create community through the church and then he blesses that effort and it multiplies far and wide!

  4. hard to take the step, but when I have, I’ve been so richly blessed and thankful I did

    • Amen!! It is hard work taking those steps of obedience but THAT is where the real blessing is. God produces much fruit in our lives and in the people around us when we are faithful, in spite of how hard it is!!

  5. Melissa,

    Oh, friend…I can see straight to your heart in this, and I understand from the inside out. So glad you opened yourself up with such candor. You’ve articulated a lot of feelings I’ve had (and still do sometimes.).

    xo

  6. I have social anxieties, so Yes, I do struggle with “community”. If someone asks me to do something or to help or to participate, I almost always say yes because I know I need to stretch myself. But I am never the one to initiate.

    • I understand Lisa, it is so hard sometimes to be the one to initiate. But at least you are someone who says “yes!” It seems more often than not, people tend to say no to helping or participating in community needs, so that is awesome you are one of the few 🙂 That is life-giving right there!!!

  7. Perfect words and timing, Melissa! …. oh that first step trips up SO many folks. I am praying for each person that is struggling with the “lies” that deters them from stepping out and into arms of women that have no-doubtedly been in their same spot at some point in their lives. Be brave, friends.

    • That is so true, undoubtedly other women are facing similar struggles, lies, fears and issues and doubts. If we only opened ourselves up to step into community in spite of all our excuses to avoid it, we’d soon have the opportunity to take those walls down around us and so many wounds would heal.

      Yes, be brave.

  8. Melissa,

    You speak volumes my dear. Thank you for being open and honest. For me community can be hard for several reasons: time and distance. I live about 10 miles from our small church community, 10 miles from work about 4-5 from town. Doing a lot of driving is not my cup of tea.

    Add to that I live on dead end road with older neighbors who mostly keep to themselves. I’m working on opening up more and getting involved a wee bit more.

    Thanks for the honesty!

    • Oh yes, I know it is hard when there is extra effort involved! But in my own experience, I think that is when God blesses our faithfulness the most — when our effort came with personal sacrifice and selflessness. Good for you on working on opening up more, I’m sure God will reward that desire and you’ll produce much fruit!

  9. What you said about focusing on how I feel about the women or myself challenged me. Recently God has been showing me how my wrong focuses can keep me from loving others like Jesus does. How God calls me to love others through His love for me, and not to focus on how others have hurt me. It’s hard, but I know it’s what God wants. Thank you for bringing this to my attention again.

  10. It’s most rewarding to focus outward in friendships and family relationships and so energizing to give time and effort, love and gifts; but if or when respectfulness is not reciprocated it depletes. Then it is healthy to set boundaries to rest, maybe to have some peace and quiet with someone you are in a healthy relationship with and to pray about it. (Good friends and families will hopefully respect that boundary!) A healthy community is a two way street and when it’s a one way street there will be potholes and damage…. so beautiful when the pathway is tended to with loving hands.

  11. I don’t FaceBook, Tweet or do pin-interest, but I would really like to print off this ariticle to keep / re-read / share with friends. Or at least email it to myself or others. Maybe I’m missing something, but I can’t seem to find the “magic door” for printing off individual articles. Help! Thank you for taking the time to write this. I, too, am an introvert…so living ‘in community’ is a disciplined choice for me. But it has also become a profound blessing….and well-worth the sacrifice of time and self. “Balance” is always the key, yes?

  12. I am thanking God for your honest words tonight. Although your words blessed and encouraged me, they also rebuked me. Gentle words that pierced right though motives and emotions that I have been wrestling with. So, thank you. Thanks for sharing your heart and the truth of community.

    • You are welcome Nichole. It is always difficult to share on a topic that I/we don’t like to talk about 🙂 but it is definitely something God has been laying on my heart as an issue we should be growing in. I want so much for myself and other women to experience what REAL God-breathed community should be like. It is so sad to hear about all the heartache and brokenness that comes from unhealthy communities.

  13. I know my resistance to creating a new community when I moved to a new state last year came from the fear of rejection. I decided this time I was not going to shy away and continued to go to a class at church even when I felt like it wasn’t working. Now I have a great community of encouraging friends. We talk about why people don’t stick in the group and what we could do better. I felt that a lot of times, it isn’t necessarily what we are doing or not doing, it may be something going on in them. They may have the same fear of rejection. They may be struggling with God and resistant to creating a community centered around Him.

    • Christina, I am so happy you have a great church family and pressed through to find community. It takes time and real effort, and so few people will press through the “it isn’t working for me” phase to get to a deeper level of connection.

      You are right, there can be so many reasons people drift away from a group and it is easy to wonder if it is something we are doing wrong. Sometimes though it really is just an issue in their life or walk with God. Building a healthy community is not easy!

  14. It is hard, and frankly, unnatural for many of us. Thank you for your words, they have revealed to me yet another area of selfishness in my life! I kinda thought I was doing good in the “selfless” dept. I’m glad I’ve seen this truth today…