Where we feel the most at home, isn’t always where we end up. Often times, it takes our own will power to seek out and build community where we land.
There’s something about going “home”. I love returning to the place of my childhood. Especially in the summer. I was able to return to Indiana this past weekend, and so many things made me miss my home state. The cool grass on my bare feet, the summer breeze that rarely happens in the South, the tall corn fields that make me feel protected. When I close my eyes, I can feel and smell and sense that this is home.
Those pleasing sensations really do make me miss my home. But, when I close my eyes, I also see the community we left behind. Most of my family lives there, our beautiful church family, the friends I made as an adult, long-time family friends. The deepest parts of my soul, long for familiar community again.
I left a piece of myself, a piece of my heart, in all those I cherish.
With community comes a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose. There is confidence that no matter the season of life, we are not physically alone. When one is weak, the other is strong (Ecclesiastes 4:10).
When we moved to North Carolina, it was easy for me to seclude myself. I have a hard enough time making relationships, let alone attempting this while grieving the loss of my community. No one was checking up on me. No one making sure I was going to church or getting involved. This is dangerous for someone who is prone to hermit-hood…
Just let me be in my house, my safe place, and I’m happy. Or am I?
And the Lord God said, “It isn’t good for man to be alone; I will make a companion for him, a helper suited to his needs.”
Genesis 2:18, ESV
God knew, even from the beginning, man should not be left alone. It’s not healthy for us to be alone, left to our own thoughts and plans. We need companionship. We need community.
Fellowship isn’t always effortless. There are times we have to be diligent in creating it, but as I said before, I tend to be a hermit. I’m learning to break through this personality flaw. It’s only taken me 4 years to realize I have had the power all along. Through prayer, God is showing me ways I can stretch…He always answers prayers. Here are the areas He’s laid on my heart:
Go to church and get involved…
When we exhausted all the church options in our new area, we found that the effortlessness of our old church was very rare. I was not prepared to have to put effort into feeling like we belonged somewhere. I thought we would just fit right in, in the right church. Thus, creating a horrible habit of not even attending church. We are still working on fixing this habit, but we have found our church. Now, it takes ME to get involved and make it home.
Open up our homes, be hospitable…
I’m awful at this, Lord knows I need to work on my “grumbling”. Whether it be busyness, messiness, or lack of funds, I seem to always have an excuse to not open my home to others. This is not the command of God…
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
1 Peter 4:9, NIV
Practice sacrificial giving…
One way to build relationships and solidarity with others is to give what you have. It can be time, money, food; whatever we have. Everything we possess must be held with open hands because it all flows from God, above.
All believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.
Acts 4:32, NIV
Share our stories, our testimonies…
Vulnerability and transparency have been my battle cries for about a year now. We all have our stories and they are important to share. Every single one, points directly to our good Father! No matter how wretched we were/are, God is still so good. And, in that truth, we find commonality. Camaraderie.
So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind.
1 Thessalonians 5:10, MSG
Show love, always…
This seems like a no-brainer, but so often we fall short of this commandment. When we put on love, fellowship falls right into place. All these other tips just seem to happen. Love is the greatest commandment. To put it plainly, love the Lord and love your neighbor (Matthew 22:37-39). Making sure our actions align with God’s word, is a good way to prove we are achieving love and building community with one another….
And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Colossians 3:14, ESV
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:1 Peter 4:8,10, ESV
Where Are You?
Are you in this position? Feeling alone, left out, like you don’t belong? Have you found yourself in a place that doesn’t feel quite like home? In a place where community seems so distant? Trust me, I truly know this walk. I wish with all my heart I could walk alongside of you. Help you create a new community. But know this, when you are struggling to build that community with your own efforts, God has just what you need.