By Kariss Lynch
Fight it, love it, hate it, hurt or healed by it, we are built for community. Authentic, raw, and honest.
My group couldn’t be more different. Yet, every Wednesday we pull up chairs at Watermark and get cozy.
And, it's another version of "home."
Dress clothes or sweat pants, sweaty work-out clothes or heels and pencil skirts - we curl up on the couches, laugh, cry, and dig in to the only thing that gets us through our crazy, beautiful weeks.
The Word is our mainstay. Our second thing in common.
Over the last two years, we've grown in our differences and discovered more similarities - same taste in guys, a love of food, and shared laughter over “F.R.I.E.N.D.S.” Some are no longer with us. Others have joined the crew. Our stagnant stages are met with ferocious opinions to fight harder, grow stronger, be better. But lately we have struggled with one thing: VULNERABILITY.
Only a month ago, my group was ready to quit. Or maybe I should say, I was ready to quit. Conflict, failed commitment, and a heavy emphasis on the social and not spiritual left all of us lacking but silent about our discontent.
So, I slowly shut down. I stopped leading well (or at all). I reverted to surface level friendship because it was easier. But, I knew something was deeply wrong. As I prepared what I would say, my heart pounded, and I couldn’t do it. So, I did the only thing I knew could possibly keep me linked to these women: I committed to pray for six weeks.
And pray I did – for peace and direction, for these amazing women, for courage to change what needed to change and peace to let go if the time was right. Finally, I prayed for conviction. FYI, don’t pray for conviction unless you really want it. The Lord answers prayer, and He definitely answered mine.
I had forgotten the value of vulnerability. Because of that, I failed to lead well, love well, and grow well with this group. I had also forgotten the value of confession. So, I went back to my group and asked for forgiveness. Talk about humbling. Ironically, it is in those moments of broken honesty and humility that God works the most.
Before I can ever be vulnerable in community I must remember that the Lord loves me for who I am. He knows every hair on my head (Matthew 10:30), how many times I have messed up, how often I try to please Him, how deeply I love, and how often I try to plan my own way. But growth comes when we allow others to see the victories and the struggles.
Just as He loved us, we are called to love others (1 John 4:11). And love is honest and real. Community is not packaged people who have it all together. It’s messed up people who struggle and hurt. You won’t always get along. The command isn't to make everyone FEEL better but to encourage one another to BE better. Community is pushing each other when we want to quit and loving one another through it. Your unifying factor is a love for Jesus and a desire to follow Him.
These women influence my life every week, and I'm so thankful! We are called to be vulnerable, open, and honest. Want to know the amazing thing? When we commit to that attitude, it invites others in our group to share.
Will you be willing to give of yourself, let people learn from your mistakes and encourage you? Will you drop your pride and admit you aren’t perfect? Will you love people for who they are and allow them to love you the same way? Oh, how we could rock our world, our nation for Jesus if we learned to truly love like this!
“All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." Acts 2:44-47
What keeps you from being vulnerable in community? What would it take to change that issue?