Three weeks into marriage I told him- "I can't join your community."
"I want us to build our community together."
Every Wednesday people showed up at our house to participate in community and I showed up half-present because I had already decided that Brian and I were going to go find community. It didn't matter that our house was the only place some people felt safe because of what God had build through Brian for four years. It didn't matter that people acted as a "we"- wrestling through the hardest parts of life, of disappointment, confessing anger with God, and leaning on each other for words and stories, for a safe place to say, "I'm sorry, I don't think I believe this, how can this verse be true?" And everyone would dive in- why do we believe this? What does this mean? Is Jesus funny?!
So why didn't I want to be a part of this?
I can tell you exactly why.
Because I did't pick it.
I would never have picked these people to be in community with me. They weren't really like me. They were too emotional, not emotional enough, too logical, too smart, too quiet, too loud... I am telling you the list goes on, but only because I was holding out for the community that was waiting for me... "out there".
I was going through a hard time emotionally, but didn't want to share what was going on because how can you be a part of a community if you know you're going to leave?
I heard a lot of people talk about not participating in community because any community they joined could never match what they experienced abroad. Why did they have that abroad? Why couldn't I find it here?
And then it hit me- you don't pick your community abroad. Everyone's searching for what I am holding out for. Community isn't out there, it's right here.
It was the people meeting in my living room every Wednesday.
My heart changed with this realization. I had to admit that I was afraid, I had to admit I was out of my comfort zone, I had to ask for a better understanding of who these people were. It's amazing what happens when you open yourself up to see- when you're a willing participant to revelation.
You realize that the people who have been showing up have listened to you complain about needing community. You realize the incredible generosity, compassion, and patience of the people around you. That realization for me came with a lot of tears and a deep recognition of my selfish heart.
People in my community became human to me. They were not a barrier or another disappointment. I had to be willing to be vulnerable and I had to be willing to be hurt.
I had to choose community.
Community is an invitation to be your genuine self- exposed to every mistake one human might make against another, but willing to turn around and lay your life right back down. We get to celebrate the gifts of others and use our gifts.
We pick everything around us. Whatever we want, we can go out and get it. Aren't we tired of controlling everything. We control what we eat and wear, who we are friends with, what we watch, our schedules, what we read- goodness aren't we tired! Can we choose community and leave room for God to be creative with what that means?
Your people? You don't have to pick them- choose them. Those people around you, they're your people.
I'll always go first to make space for your story.