Risking It for Community

Originally published Thursday, 30 May 2013.

This blog post first appeared on www.magnoliagrace.blogspot.com.

I used to be an expert at hiding from community. As a natural introvert, it's my tendency to withdraw from the crowd, but the problem began in high school when friends would ask me to hang out and I would make up excuses because I believed if they knew the real me, they wouldn't like her. See, I thought all my friends had life figured out ... where they would go to school, what career field they would pursue, etc. They were happy and excited---I was scared and confused. To be honest, I wished I was five years old again without major life decisions looming over my head. Instead of dreaming about possibilities, I just felt overwhelmed by it all. And, I didn't want to admit that to my friends. 

Throughout college, I continued to keep people at a distance. I had a million and one insecurities that I didn't want others discovering. If I never got close to anyone, I wouldn't have to share that part of me, I wouldn't have to admit my weaknesses, I wouldn't have to risk being rejected.

But that's not what God wants us to do---that's not who we wants us to be. He didn't make us to hide away. He created us for relationships and real relationships are formed when we are willing to be vulnerable with another person, when we are willing to be transparent and share the experiences in our lives that make us who we are. 

"The parts of me I usually like to hide are the very parts where God is working through my life and my story." 
-Bonnie Gray @TheBonnieGray

I don't like to admit that fear has kept me from doing things in my life. 

I don't like to admit that I spent the first weekend in my house crying because I hated being single and having to buy a house by myself. 

I don't like to admit that I struggle with insecurities. 

But just like that quote above says, it's exactly in those areas where God has shown me what He can do and brought me closer to Him. My weaknesses are the exact things that can bring glory to Him.  

God has shown me that by being open and willing to admit some of my struggles, some of the things I desperately want to hide, that that is where true relationships are born. And that is where He is working so much in my life.  

He has given me community in a way I could have never imagined just a few years ago. He has nudged me to step out of my comfort zone, beyond the fear and risk rejection. He has encouraged me to join small groups, to volunteer with new people, to try something totally new, to take that promotion. In return, He's amazed me with how He continues to shape and change me.   

And the only way to step out of your comfort zone is to lean on and rely on Him, the One you know will never reject you.