Monday, September 17, 2012

Moving Back Towards Community

This past weekend, we took a road trip.
To see one of our spiritual sons.
To have some down time with an old youth group friend and his wife that we truly call "couple friends," which is no small feat when you are married to an opposite.
And finally to fellowship at the church of my old campus pastor at my college alma mater.

I haven't seen Pastors Bill and Lisa Shuler in more than seven years, so as he took the stage, I let out a little squeal and happy clap as I reached for my journal prepared to capture every morsel of wisdom that he ALWAYS, without fail, oozes.

And as he opens his mouth and begins to share the words God has place on His heart, the theme become quickly clear :: community.

My heart did a little flip flop as I thought,

"Oh man! That word, this challenge, the gentle nudge is coming from every direction -- personal tug from the Holy Spirit, the blogosphere, and now an out-of-town church visit."

The last few years have been spent in a mode of aftershock due to trauma after trauma personally, physically, mentally, emotionally. Living in a culture not my own, experiencing multiple incidences of theft within a one-to-two year period, chronic pain increasingly debilitating my body, infertility holding the dream of multiplying our family at bay, and finally an earthquake in my childhood home of Haiti, cutting off life-and-death news of my parents for over seventeen hours -- all had me walking dazed and confused in my own skin.

In that shell-shocked season, I felt so very isolated from community by life circumstances, personal seclusion, and harsh judgments.

Two years ago, stepping away on an indefinite sabbatical from full time pastoral ministry found me in need of a hiding place for awhile. My emotions have run the gamut, from guilt to anger, from hurt to relief, from rejection to jealousy, from pride to disdain, and on and on and on.

With my heart functioning as one, BIG, raw, exposed nerve, connecting was off the table. For awhile. And as an extrovert, who thrives on relationships, this was HARD. But, drowning in pain from misunderstandings and lack of grace, I felt gun-shy to move forward, to open back up again.

Until now.

So with the past, ever in my consciousness, I felt the Lord gently lifting and urging me in the direction of community again as Pastor Shuler's words rang through the auditorium...

"When meaningful relationships are not present and active in our lives, we lose affirmation....and correction...because we need that too."

What am I missing by hiding behind the curtain?
How can I move forward from the hurts of the past?

Pastor Shuler shares three basic steps from the life of Jesus as told by counselor and relationship expert, Henry Nouwen:
1) Jesus began with solitude -- He connected with God
2) Jesus THEN enters community -- He formed a small group of disciples
3) Jesus finally steps forward to minister -- He reached out to the world around Him.

The more I connect with the Father, the more I can let go of the hurts of the past and risk opening up now and in the future and maybe even to be understood. I thought this was just a Lindsey-obsession, this desire to be understood, but come to find out it is THE #1 characteristic longed for in relationship -- to be understood and accepted.

And the more we open up ourselves and accept others, the more that same understanding and openness is returned back to us.

Yeah. I know. It is really simple.
But really it is not.
Not without Jesus.
Not without the cross.

This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. ~I John 4:10-12
So I am over here, taking tentative steps BACK into community and learning how to lean on Jesus in that endeavor more and more each day.

How do you move towards 
RE-connectiong and forgiveness 
in relationships in your life?

Linking up with:

On In Around button



A Soul Soiree said... Best Blogger Tips

Love your bravery to embrace life and community, your words are full of wonderful truths to ponder. Nice to visit your sweet blog :)

Jennifer 'Miner' Ferguson said... Best Blogger Tips

Oh, I just talked about this in my class yesterday -- how we must be connected with God in order to engage with community in a healthy, fruitful way. SO glad you linked up with SDG - we are all about community around here!

Gretchen Foley DiFilippo said... Best Blogger Tips

Wow! God so works in ways that are unexpected. We have been the same the last few years and in just the last few weeks I have been feeling God saying that my time of mourning was over and it was time to get back in the game. Little steps, little steps....scary steps..but steps none the less.
Love you guys and praying for ya!!

Anna C said... Best Blogger Tips

Bill's teachings on community have been so foundational to me and John. It's cool how God has words for you no matter where you go if you're listening.

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

Yes...Pastor Shuler's words always challenge me immensely...and you are so is important to be present and open to hear what Jesus wants to say or just holding on to grace that He will knock me up side the head to pay attention....

lindseyfoj said... Best Blogger Tips

It IS SO crazy how scary it is to get back thankful for His patience. Recently He showed me how faith does not have to look like Peter stepping out into the middle of the Red Sea and walking on water. Sometimes it looks like Moses, with a million people behind him waiting, taking a tentative step into the Red Sea believing that God will open the path through on dry land the whole time. It has given me strength and courage to move forward little by little...

Alida Sharp said... Best Blogger Tips

We have learned the importance of community the hard way our first five years on the mission field. We are so grateful for the support network we have here in Belize.

Ro elliott said... Best Blogger Tips

great words here...I too am healing...and I am moving back toward community...and you are so right...with out Jesus and the Cross and life drench with a lot of Grace it is impossible. blessings as you take steps toward the Father...and others:)

dukeslee said... Best Blogger Tips

You are so wise. Grateful for your focus on Christ-centered community, and how we need it for both affirmation and correction. Thank you for linking your words with us at Getting Down With Jesus. You've blessed me today.

Alene Snodgrass said... Best Blogger Tips

This is just beautiful girl! I needed this words to remind the order - solitude, community, then ministry. But maybe all three are intertwined. I don't know, but I know I needed this. Blessings!

Annie | said... Best Blogger Tips

Just last night, I was sitting here hashing out this idea with a friend. Yes to community. And I love the wisdom of solitude first. Thank you for this, Lindsey.

MotheringFromScratch said... Best Blogger Tips

So glad you are venturing back out. I just came out of a very painful period where I stepped back from community for nearly a year. I've slowly been wading back in, as my heart would let me. It feels good to connect again, to be understood. :)

Visiting from the (in)courage linkup

Tammy_Skipper said... Best Blogger Tips

oh it is so true, we must follow Jesus''s there for us so many times and we don't even realize it...may God continue to bring you grace-givers as you journey back into community ((hugs))

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