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Monday, April 21, 2008

When "community" happens...



"To be intimate with others is to reveal our innermost selves to them, including our emotions, thoughts and desires. For such deep sharing of the soul and spirit to occur, people must respect and trust each other. ... In a world controlled by sin, however, to choose to be intimate is to choose to be hurt. Yet Jesus calls us to this kind of intimacy with Him and with one another."
~ Kenneth A. Schmidt ~


I participate with several other writers in an online writing group. When this group started meeting over a year ago, we were individuals - our relationship was more on a surface level as we wrote and critiqued each other's work. We shared the obvious joys or successes, but it took longer for us to begin sharing our rejections and needs as writers.

I'm not sure when it happened - when we crossed the line from being writing associates who were Christians to a Christian "community" of writers who care deeply for each other and support one another in prayer, in joys, in rejections and even in our day-to-day struggles, but it happened.

Several months ago, a few members of the group that were available at the designated time began to meet for an online Bible Study. Each week as we met together to study God's word, our relationship deepened as we began to be honest with each other and open up about what was really happening inside ourselves as writers.

It was a scary thing as we addressed the question of why we have to suffer as Christians and how God can use those sufferings to minister to others. For several weeks we talked about it, then one day I began to really hear what the others were saying. For the first time, I wept as I listened to one of my fellow writers because I felt I could really see the suffering she endured from her auto accident - the pain she went through then and the pain she continues to experience.

I shared the pain of depression I had experienced and felt as though my heart had been heard, understood and affirmed. I hope the others felt it too.

That day we went from being a group of individuals who wrote together to a group that really understood each other - with all our flaws, pain and inadequacies. This is the very intimacy Jesus calls us to with Him and with one another.

Now it becomes scary - in opening up to this group of caring friends, I have opened myself up to be hurt. Because we are sinful people and because we have suffered, we have the ability to hurt one another, perhaps not intentionally, but the possibility exists nevertheless. Hurt people hurt people.

But the truth is - Jesus knows I need the support and care of my friends. I need the intimacy of these relationships. I need the lessons of trust I am learning. As He walks with me He helps me to be vulnerable, open and honest in spite of that potential for hurt. He helps me to grow as a person and in my relationship with Him. If hurt happens, He will be there to walk me through it and help restore those relationships.

He said, "This is how people will know you are my disciples - because you love one another." May I paraphrase a bit? "This is how others will know you are my disciples, because you are open, honest and vulnerable with each other; because there is a trusting and strong, supportive, intimate relationship."

Can all Christians develop this kind of relationship? Probably not but Jesus is faithful to bring us to the point we are ready for such relationships. He will bring those across our path who will help us grow in intimacy; to fulfill this calling for our lives.

10 comments:

MiPa said...

Beautiful post on an awesome quote! Thank you! Bless you for hosting this week.

Heather@Mommymonk said...

This is a great theme to discuss. Community is so important, but we often shy away from it because we are afraid of getting hurt.

Tami Boesiger said...

Bonnie,

I loved this quote! Nothing can give us greater joy or greater sorrow than giving ourselves away to people. I agree we have to risk it in order to love others as Jesus has commanded us. Good thoughts!

Tracy Berta-daughter to the King, wife, mother, speaker, writer said...

Bonnie, thanks for hosting "In other Words" today. It was a powerful quote and one that had me pondering.

Oh, how we need one another!

Thanks and many blessings!
Tracy

Karen said...

Praise the Lord! Thanks so much Bonnie for this week's thought and for sharing with us.

Christin said...

You have chosen a beautiful quote and concept to speak on. I wish I had more time to write on it myself - instead I picked a part of the issue that I deal with personally.
I believe these types of relationships are so important. You never know when God wants to use us to help someone else through their struggles - the only way to do so is to make ourselves available, i.e. vulnerable.
Thank you so much for this enlightening and thought-provoking quote. God bless you Bonnie!

Terri Sue said...

This one took me a liilte while to comment to! Thank you for making me think and pray! Have a blessed day!
Terri Sue

Patty Wysong said...

Oh, Bonnie, I understand this so well. My circle of online friends have seen me, and felt my heart, and they still love me. Will they always? I don't know. But I do know that I have grown exponentially since we've opened up with eachother. We share our joys and our tears (LoL--even the frustrated screams) and God is blessing us abundantly through each other. He has loved us through the others. God is so good to give us such good friends--sisters of our hearts.

Hugs, my friend.

Michelle Bentham said...

Nicely done, and thank you, Bonnie, for hosting this week with such a thought provoking post. It took me to a different place. A reflection perhaps of the places I've been with God lately.

It is scary laying ourselves out there for others to look at in transparent authenticity - but the reward of truly godly accountablity and fellowship is worth its weight in gold. Nothing compares to it.

Blessings.

Faerylandmom said...

Thank you for the gentle reminder...and thank you for hosting. :-) I hope I can participate every week, but we'll see...

It really is beautiful when the Lord takes one thing - a group of Christian writers - and turns it into something else - a group of believers loving and refining each other through intimacy.