I’ve been reading along with Joy’s journey in finding church and find myself contemplating everything we have experienced over the last few years away from organized religion. In the past few years I have reconsidered what church really is, what it’s supposed to be, and if we humans have the ability to be the Church that I read about in the New Testament. Yet, I find it incredibly unfair of me to have thoughts of what it’s “suppose to be”. Isn’t that just another form of trying to get a community to measure up? Isn’t that we’re all tired of in the first place? My Good Shepherd said we could rest, graze in the meadows, and drink water from the river of life. How is it that we know this yet continue to run a rat race that tires us out?
In the last few months we have been hanging out with a group here in Southern California. It’s been a refreshing change for us, because we never thought we’d find a place where we could kick our shoes off and rest in. Our hearts and souls longed for a place where our souls could drink in life with others.
The founders (Jeremy and Carolee) of this little group have been to our home several times and we are enjoying our growing friendship with them.I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t think I would be able to have friendships the way I had before. I finally mustered up the courage to talk to Carolee about my struggle as I shared my musings of whether or not my friendship meter was broken. The depth of emotional and spiritual intimacy with previous friends had suffered great damage and I didn’t think I would be able to have that again.
The bottom line is fear. The fear of being trampled on again, but if we remain afraid of pain then aren’t we admitting to ourselves that we are weak in wisdom? Did we not learn wisdom from the last turmoil? Didn’t we gain some hindsight and do we walk in doubt that we can make wiser choices in upcoming friendships? Maybe it’s not so much that we think people will fail us, but rather that we think we will fail ourselves? Is it fair to Jeremy, Carolee, and everyone else in this group if we come into their community with our minds made up that someone there is going to stab us in the back? That can’t possibly be a good attitude to have if we’re genuinely trying to grow and nurture one another in faith and life.
I love the motto of the group, ‘God without the guilt’. What a relief! It’s a relief to hear an uplifting message each week. It’s always a message about how God is not looking to guilt us into a relationship with him. With this thought in mind, I pondered whether we (all those who are looking for a community of faith) are pre-guilting every fellowship we get in the fitting room with when we fear being hurt if we decide to stay. Are we coming to these communities with a ‘you are guilty until proved innocent’ motive?
My friend Amy posed a question on her Facebook wall about Christian communities and a friend of hers said this, “To have someone who weeps with you and rejoices with you is priceless.”
Isn’t this what it all comes down to? Can we, as a diverse Body, really weep and rejoice with one another no matter our differences, baggage, scars, or otherwise? Is the search for Church about trusting people with our hearts or trusting God with our hearts? Are we afraid of the people or are we really afraid that God will stand by and let us get hurt again?
Can’t we just jump in and take it a day at a time, by faith? The Body is a universal community of hurting people who hurt people. If we stumble our way into a community with bleeding wounds, we’re bound to splatter a bit of blood on someone’s white robe, if we fall over ourselves and bump into others, we’re bound to cause some bruises. Maybe we can just learn to weep and rejoice with others. That sounds like a good start to a community of hurting folks.
I’ll end with this today, we have a sister who is hurting. Deeply hurting. Lauren, of Sparkling Adventures, has lost her infant son this week in a tragic event in Australia. The media has not been kind and random trolls on the internet have been wickedly hurtful to her while she is grieving. As a community of sisters, can we offer her some real life tangible support? You can make a donation to help her and her daughters. Let’s weep together and do what we can to offer love and lots of prayer.
Being a wounded solider out on the field may make us feel like we’re all alone, but when we come together we quickly see that there are far more of us that are hurting too.