Originally published Thursday, 02 October 2014.
one of the most profound things that i have discovered in my twenties is the necessity of community. we were made for it. sometimes i find it comical that i feel so passionately about this because there was a time in my life when i was a part of an unhealthy community that caused a great deal of emotional pain for me. for a long time, i hated that word. i hated the idea of sharing myself with people and opening up to people. not only that, but an introvert by nature, i relish my alone time and need it to recharge. my mom calls me fiercely independent.
but i've come to discover i need people so much more than i like to admit.
i used to think of community as being something i had to force. i'm not typically a big crowds type of person and i don't really like sharing my thoughts and my life and my struggles with people i can't relate to or don't trust. instead of feeling engaged with others i still felt alone and disconnected. i walked away from social situations feeling like there was something wrong with me, even if i appeared to be completely adjusted.
i can't say this enough: that is not community.
the most important thing the Lord has gently taught me about community through the latter half of my twenties is that it's through positive, Christ-centered relationships that i'm able to best experience Him. being part of the Body of Christ is an innate human need. we need to be known and we need to know others. isolation - whether physical or emotional (or both) is the enemy's most effective tool.
i had a conversation with one of my best friends last night. the struggles i mentioned above are still prevalent in my life and i've been feeling alone and isolated and inferior lately. as it turns out, she has too. and the ironic thing is, i would never have guessed it. neither of us were talking about it and by keeping our social anxiety struggles internal, our relationship was being impacted. we were starting to buy into the lies that were being whispered in our ears that we're weird, different, broken. our conversation practically brought me to tears because it was such an encouragement to me. our struggles are all quite similar. thinking no one understands or that we're different is a lie. connecting with others is such a blessing in that we're reminded we're not alone, reminded of our human-ness and reminded of the importance of leaning into the arms of our Creator.
i'm discovering already through this 31 days challenge how much the Lord is already using it to emphasize the importance of genuine community. i have been amazed at how accurately the honest words of other women in this challenge have echoed my own feelings and struggles.
we're not really all that different, you guys. i'm thrilled by how beautifully this challenge is already orchestrating new community in my life. (a few suggestions: tiffany at stumbling to stand, jenna at without borders, meredith at milk+honey, bailey jean at brave love blog and brittany at happy heart box.) i am more than excited to learn from the other women who are so fearlessly sharing their hearts through their words, and my passion for and confidence in honestly sharing my own is being strengthened with every new button added to the 31 days link-up. it's not about followers or clicks or site analytics. it's about Jesus and finding Him through one another. and that's 31 days well spent.
(note: you can read more about what i've learned in community here.)
you can read the full 31 days : twentysome years series, written daily through the month of october, on my blog
image via the glitter guide