Community is hard. What is it? How do you live it out? Why is it important?
These are all questions that have floated in and out of my thoughts over the last several days. While I have a hard time putting it into words…I know at the core of this concept is one word: Love.
Love can be defined as a thousand different things, but at the core of it is a choice to love one another in wherever they are at in their story…in hopes that they will experience the mercy, grace, depth, and texture of their relationship with Christ which will overflow into their relationships with others.
It’s a choice to push others forward in their story. To be fully known and loved is a freeing feeling. But to have another person fight for you to continually look more like the image of Christ is beautiful. This has been one of the greatest acts of love I’ve seen birthed from those that have loved me well over the years. Having people love me beyond themselves, and fight for me through the mess I don’t even want to fight for brings about an overwhelming feeling of humility. It reminds me that I cannot and should not want to walk through this world alone.It’s much easier to talk about loving people than to actually love them. To actually love people as Christ does is hard. It requires discipline, humility, selfless love, grace, and a servant’s heart. It demands loyalty and a commitment that extends beyond the concern of what you receive in return.
So let’s talk about elephants. Specifically the “elephants in the room” when we live in community with each other. We are all familiar with them….we all have them. It’s our mess. It’s the mess we see in those we love. They are the broken things that overflow out of us that are impossible to ignore, but feel really risky to address in our own lives let alone the lives of those around us.
When we avoid the elephants in our own lives, and the lives of others we miss the opportunity to see Christ. We get to desperately cling to a distorted broken version of ourselves for a while longer, but we also miss the beauty of the gift we have been given. The gift is this: when we talk about the elephants we get to see the beauty in the mess. We get to see others get down into the pit and sit beside us and fight for us in ways that make the grace, faithfulness, and mercy of the Lord real in our lives.
Life feels fragile sometimes. It’s composed of a story, strewn together with a past and pain, triumphs and mistakes, dreams and disappointments. But our stories are reminders of our greater hope: a day when we look perfectly like Jesus Christ.
Until then we have those around us. Our community. Those that walk along side us, encourage us, fight for us, point out our elephants and call us forth to something greater so that we may reflect the beauty of Christ in a more accurate way.
I wouldn’t trade the difficult times I’ve had in the midst of authentic friendship for anything. There’s too much beauty in the mess. Brokenness is built in silence, and community doesn’t let you sit in silence.
That’s what I love about it.
That is what has changed me.
So while the beauty of community is often hard for me to put into words; it doesn’t bother me. I know its’ effect. I’ve felt the beauty of it with tears streaming down my face in the valleys. And I’ve experienced it while shouting from the mountain tops. Both are equally as transforming and equally as important. You can’t appreciate one as much without the other.
May my elephants never stand in a silent room, and may I love those around me enough to take the risk and talk about theirs. Not because it makes my life more convenient or easy, but because I want the lives of those around me to matter more than my own. Who they are at the end of this life should matter to me. They matter to Christ so they should matter to me.
I’m convinced that at the end of my life loving others enough to fight for truth in their lives will be my richest reward.