Community. It’s not just the neighborhood you live in or a word that precedes other words like “center,” “outreach,” or “college.” Community is something intangible that you find as you imerse yourself into a tribe of other people you share commonalities with while you face life’s challenges and triumphs together.
I’m in a shape-shifting season of community right now. The group that my husband and I have “done life with” the past four and a half years is drastically about to change because several members of the group are being called to new seasons. We’ve all been in tears about it because none of us truly wants the close bond of Christ-centered family that we’ve shared through deep valleys, rocky roads, and dazzling triumphs to end as we know it.
The oldest in the group tries to encourage us from experience to remind us that people come into your life for a season and those bonds will never be broken even those distance and time separates us. Still, many of us want to fight for things to stay the same. But they won’t. Deep down, we all know it.
Here’s the thing- I don’t want to share all my junk with yet another group. That just exhausts me to think about explaining all the things I’ve lived through with these people.
But do you know what? It exhausted me to think about that before I came to this group of people, too.
I guess at the age of 33, I’ve been through about 5 or 6 batches of true blue tribes. The people I’ve “done life with” have come at just the right time for just the right reasons. Every time I’ve come to a season of in between, it’s felt awfully lonely and like I was on a launchpad to an unknown destination. But when I started becoming ingrained in community once again as I forged ahead into what was unknown to me, but always known to the Lord, I finally started to see a little more of who God wanted to use to help challenge and shape me as His daughter for that new season.
The older I get, the more I realize that from each tribe, I seem to have collected individual tribespeople that become part of my super tribe. They may not be the people I do life with locally, but they’re the people that I don’t have to re-explain my story to. They’ve known me long enough to help me come to a better knowing of myself. These are the ones I send the desperate pleas for prayer to. These are the ones I can bounce ideas off of and the ones who will reach out with real-talk to set me straight and help me stay grounded in what truly matters.
Maybe you’re tribe-less locally like I’m about to be, too. I can’t really tell you where exactly you’ll find your tribe. But what I can tell you is what to look for. Here are the top five things I’ll be looking for in my next tribe that I would encourage you to look for, too:
TOP 5 THINGS TO LOOK FOR WHEN SEARCHING FOR COMMUNITY:
- People who let you process out loud along the process of life.
- People who don’t just say, “That’s life,” when the going get’s tough. The people you want around you when life is hard are those who will weep with you and then DO something not to carry your whole load, but to help lift it. These will be the same people who truly rejoice with you when you experience victory in your life as well.
- People who are available… for text messages, meals, to help you move, to come to your husband’s graduation party, to watch your kid when you move again, to go to the movies with. Don’t misunderstand…you don’t need people who are there to do it all for you, but to do a lot of it with
- People who will love you unconditionally while you and Jesus process all the junk in your life.
- People who will always keep you grounded in the truth of God’s Word.
We had one of our last gatherings this past weekend: an impromptu cookout at our Life Group Leaders’ home. That night, as we drove away, I thought about what that group and our leaders’ home have meant to us these past few years. A phrase came to mind about all that we’ve shared together at their home, our church, and everywhere in between: a Christ-centered community is where home is church and church is home.
This sort of community is a sacred fellowship that breeds on grounds of backyards, beat up cars and minivans, churches, restaurants, concert floors, hospitals, playgrounds, funeral homes, nurseries, and so much territory between.
You were made for community, my friend. God made us in community and for community because His desire for us to know the beauty of relationship with Him and His people is at His core. Some of the first words the world ever heard from the God whose image we were made in clue us in on that: “Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image…” (Genesis 1:26).
[easy-tweet tweet=”We weren’t made to be lonely or to do life alone. We were made for authentic, grounded-in-truth relationships that are the DNA of the body of Christ.” user=”@JaymeHull” hashtags=”#community”]
If you haven’t found your band of brothers and sisters yet, start looking today.
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