Jesus lived in community. He surrounded himself with the twelve disciples and many others, such as Lazerus, Mary and Martha, and Mary Magdalene, just to name a few that come to mind. Sure, he was their rabbi, their leader. But he needed them, too. They assisted him in his ministry (Luke 9:1-6). They gathered with him for the last supper (Luke 22:14). They were with him in the Garden of Gethsemane where he prayed in distress (Matthew 36-38).
Jesus lived in community because God made us for community. He made us to bear one another’s burdens – to support one another in our trials and to restore each other when we falter (Galatians 6:1-10). He made us to serve Him through loving and supporting our neighbors (Matthew 22:37-40).
Part of loving one another is by walking alongside each other through the good times and bad. We need to surround ourselves with like minded individuals in order to walk this out.
The years of 2017- early 2020 were a nightmare for me. Unlike a lot of people, the circumstances surrounding COVID provided me the relief I so desperately needed. For details on the crises I faced, peruse my previous blog posts. What I want to talk about here is the men and women that walked with me through these trials and continually brought me to the foot of the cross. I’d like to share how my community has been there for me.
Of course our family is an important part of our community. Hopefully your family is able to come alongside you and support you throughout your life. I know not everyone has this pleasure. While my relationships with my family and my in-laws is not perfect, they have certainly been a blessing in my life.
When my son was born and I was sick in the hospital my husband’s and my parents took turns taking care of my newborn. What selfless servitude to care for a newborn long after their time of being new parents. They cared for him still when I suddenly had to go back to work full time and I didn’t have anywhere for him to go. The list could go on.
Beyond your parents, siblings, and in-laws, there are others who come into our lives and play the role of family when your actual family cannot. One such person in my life is Rita.
Rita took me into her home as a stranger during a really difficult time in my life. I lived with her and her husband for almost a year. While Rob loved through jokes and pretend disdain, Rita loved me as a daughter. She let my heart bleed without trying to fix me. She later helped me prepare for my wedding when my mom wasn’t able to step in.
Though I moved out of her house over ten years ago, she still calls to check in on me. She invites me – no tells me – to join her for lunch or dinner. Always her treat. She’s there when I need a shoulder to cry on. She’s my “Florida Mom.”
I’m not very good at keeping friends but there are two women in particular that have stuck by my side for the long haul.
Kjersti brings fun and laughter into my life when life isn’t fun or joyful. She is my prayer warrior, ready to intercede when I need it most. Though we have lived in different states for most of our friendship our bond remains strong. We can laugh and mourn together in the same phone conversation. We met in college and our relationship remains juvenile…but in only the best of ways.
Karen is my deep conversationalist, though we have our goofy moments. She and I have lived close by for much of our friendship. We’ve travelled overseas together. She’s my “get together for coffee or a drink” friend. We talk about life and Jesus. We ponder life and process life’s decisions together.
The Greater Christian Community
I cannot limit this category to just church because that communal gathering of believers goes beyond the walls of the church for me. While I’ve built a good community in church, my overall experience with churches has been hard. I’ve been deeply hurt and let down by the church which has hindered my ability to have a consistent community there. When the church hasn’t fulfilled my needs, I’ve had another community that has in a similar way.
Through my husband’s and my auto repair business I have been connected to a local chamber of commerce. However, this chamber isn’t business as usual. I like to call the Central Florida Christian Chamber of Commerce “the church for businesses.” Not only have they been a great resource for our business and connected me with others to do business with, they have also loved my family and I unconditionally. When I was pregnant they came to my home to help prepare it for baby. When I was in the hospital they prayed for me. When I was recovering at home they brought me meals and helped me clean. When our business was facing challenges they stepped in with prayer and counsel.
Here are a few examples:
Emmy is my Mary Kay lady, but she is so much more than that. She has helped me to find my beauty inside and out. She has become a good friend who has been there for me throughout my trials. She lets me unload and encourages me along the way.
Megan has become a mentor to me. She gets in trouble with me for talking during meetings. She jumps at the chance to have coffee or lunch so that I can glean advice about marriage and parenting. She encourages me toward Jesus in everything I do.
Dawn and Christine have taught me how to pray. I mean really pray in a way that allows me to recognize God’s voice. They’ve let me cry and lifted me in prayer that goes beyond how anyone else (save Kjersti) has ever prayed for me.
Mark and then Krystal, former president and current president of the chamber, have been a constant support for my family. They get the struggles of owning a small business and provide opportunities for us to persevere and grow.
There are so many more but my word count is pushing the limits.
Where is Your Community?
I hope you are surrounded by a good community. If you aren’t, go find them. If you are, go thank them!