Let me start off very blunt, but hang with me. About a year ago I decided that all people are terrible. I think we all have these moments once in a while, however, for me it stuck. For months I isolated myself from community, in fear of vulnerability, connecting and ultimately getting hurt. I thought that as long as I was pursuing the Lord, I was set. I became overwhelmed with loneliness and a feeling of disconnect. I knew something needed to change, and I knew I had to take a step out of isolation and into the scary, messy land of relationships.
I recently read a book by Donald Miller called “Scary Close” it is fantastic and everyone should read it. Throughout the book Miller noted how he constantly doubted his ability to have good, healthy relationships. I relate to Donald. I told myself for months that I was no good at relationships, so why even bother with them. And although this is not the truth, to me, it was very real and a challenging struggle I faced, and still face today.
This past week I was preparing a talk with the topic of relationships and community and let me just say I was pumped. These past 6 months, community has become of increasingly high value to me, so to dive a little deeper into what God has to say about relationships was very exciting.
With that all being said, I’d like to share some thoughts and encouragement, because I know the challenge it can be to pursue relationships, but I also know how incredibly rewarding it is.
First of all, there is no doubt about it that we are created for relationships. God is a relationship, the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit and in Genesis, God says that He created man in His image. To be created in the image of God is to be created for relationships. We’ve been created to be in relationship with our Creator and with His creations. He does not want us to be lonely, but to walk through life with others.
During those months of isolation God was working on my heart. Pruning and cutting off the branches in my life that no longer were healthy and producing good fruit. Teaching me more about myself and where I was not reflecting His goodness. Whenever we go through a season of growth it can be extremely difficult to remain in Jesus and His love. Things start to get uncomfortable and we want to turn the other way, head back to safety. But these are the moments when we need Him and others the most.
My mistake was not seeking community through this season. God places the people we need during certain seasons in our life all around us, but is up to us to connect with and pursue these relationships. He knows that we cannot do this life alone and that is why He places great emphasis on being in community with others.
Being in community will help us remain in the Lord and grow in our relationship with Him. While serving others through encouragement, correction and love, we’ll strengthen our relationships with others and look more like Jesus. Although we can solely be complete in relationship with the Lord alone, He knows it is not good for us to be alone. But we cannot be immersed completely in a community and have no relationship with God. We have to find the balance of keeping our relationship with Jesus first, and have a supporting community that follows.
All of our relationships flow out of our relationship with God. And the closer we are to God, the closer we will be able to get to others. Relationships are tough. They take commitment, vulnerability, patience, forgiveness, honesty, the list goes on. But they are worth the fight.
As it stands today, I commit to choose my relationship with Jesus first and foremost. But I also commit myself to pursuing community and authentic friendships. I commit to remind myself that I am good at relationships and that people do not suck. I commit to encouraging my friends to remain in the Father’s love and to be a safe place they can run when things get hard. Each day, life throws all kinds of obstacles our way, but how great it is when you can sit with a friend and know that you’re not alone in this great and wonderful journey of life.
I encourage you my friends to strive hard after Jesus and your relationship with Him. To seek community and don’t fear away from relationships. Life is much more fun doing it with others.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself” Matthew 22:37-39