When we go through challenging times, sometimes our first inclination is to withdraw from others, especially when our children experience challenges. In our society, we are quick to judge parents if their children are having meltdowns or not responding the typical way. We think if the parents would only do, “x,y, and z” that their children would be better behaved or achieve more academically. If we are authentic with others, we fear what they may think or say. We wonder if they can relate to what we are going through? In our social media influenced world, most of the time, we only put our picture perfect smiles out for the world to see. Our news feeds are full of the perception that everyone is living their best lives when in reality these pictures are only a small percentage of the life we live. As much as we try to perfect our situations, we can’t be proactive enough to eliminate every struggle, challenge, or trial in life. By constantly trying to “out think” our struggles, we run the risk of becoming highly functioning anxious people. On the outside, we are high achievers; on the inside, the rat race never ends and the hamster wheel just keeps spinning.
One way God has created us to snap out of our cycles of self-sufficiency and “I’ve got it” mentality is through community. Whether we find community with people in our families or through people with common interests, being truly real and vulnerable helps us know that we aren’t alone in our struggles. In the past, I have been known to say, “I’m okay with going through these hard struggles as long as God can use this struggle for good.” I believed that deep down in my soul, but it wasn’t until last year when I was studying through Kelly Minter’s study All Things New exploring 2 Corinthians, that I realized the reason I found truth in this statement is that it’s scriptural. My brain must have remembered reading this passage in the past and the truth nestled deep inside my soul.
In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, Paul writes “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” Thinking back to different trials that you have experienced in your life, when you think about the people who have had the greatest impact to help you through these valley experiences, was it their words or lived experience that touched you the most deeply? For me, when people share how the Lord was fully present with them and brought them through their challenges this is what gives wings to my faith. I can lean on their experiences with the hope that I can also experience this same level of deliverance and certainty in the power of the Lord.
Jennie Allen has a new book coming out today, Find Your People: Building Deep Community in a Lonely World. I have been a part of her insider team, and it’s been super fun to listen to her videos and teachings from the study before the book is released. (If you want access to this, too, it’s easy to do. Lots of authors have pre-order goodies/freebies when you purchase before the release date, because it helps them meet their sales quota). I pre-ordered the book on my Audible subscription and can’t wait to dig into her practical, biblical wisdom. (Side note for busy parents- audiobooks could be your best hit for putting truth into your heart and mind as you cook, clean, and do laundry.)
Maybe you are finding yourself in a crossroads of weariness from trying to do life alone or maybe like me, you are beginning to move to a new community and starting a new job. Now might be the perfect time to explore methods of finding people to do life with authentically in this next season. As our pastor frequently says, “Life isn’t a do it yourself project.” God designed us to live in community. Through living life authentically with others, we gain perspective so that we don’t miss the beautiful, everyday glimpses of glory through our unique children. I am so thankful for all of the people in our community who have lived life with us the last 15 years, and pray that as we transition back to our home town, the Lord will show us our new community, so we can be a blessing to them as they will be to us in this next season.