Hello, friends! My name is Hannah and I am so excited (while also very nervous) to be taking up this small space today to share what God has taught me about being brave in relationships and community. I am a lover of people to the fullest extent. I want so badly for everyone around me to feel loved, known, and included—this has been one of my distinguishing traits since I was very young. I want others to feel comfortable so much so that I often forsake my pride and composure to embarrass myself and show my extremely awkward true colors in hopes that someone else may feel less like an outsider. This has, on multiple occasions, ended badly, but I do still joke that this ability really is my God given spiritual gift. I would gladly be made fun of or be self-deprecating if even an acquaintance could feel more at home in wherever they are because of it.
This seems so childlike and uncomfortable, but when I really think about the times I have felt the loneliest and most unknown or unloved, I absolutely cannot stand the thought of someone else feeling the same way. So, if I have the power to stop that—I will. I need community so desperately to feel the most like myself that I cannot help but to be extremely passionate about it. This is why I try to defend and cultivate it with all I’ve got and wherever I am. All Christians, and all people in general, need community.
‘Then God said, “Let us make manin our image, after our likeness…”’ Gen. 1:26
Even in the very first chapter of the Bible—Genesis—God is creating men and women with His community—the Trinity. God’s example of community started at the very beginning and because we are made in His image, we need this same community with our brothers and sisters. We have an innate need to live life with other people. This need is good and of God when we use the gift of relationships the way it was meant to be used—to further the gospel and our spiritual growth.
A life of walking in faith and in hopes of furthering the Kingdom can sometimes be the loneliest life, but our God is always in community with us. We must only look to Him and read His Word to find it. In one of my loneliest seasons, God brought me to these words:
“But now thus says the LORD,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
3For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Cush andSeba in exchange for you.
4 Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
peoples in exchange for your life.
5 Fear not, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the west I will gather you.
6 I will say to the north, Give up,
and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the end of the earth,
7 everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”
These words are like a warm hug to me. They remind me that even if every human has forsaken me, even if I feel like no one knows or loves me the way I want to be known or loved, even if I am cast out and not included, I still have my Creator who loves me and would give people in exchange for me. He is with me and sees me as precious. This is the foundation of brave community. We cannot be brave enough to be true and honest with others if we are not first and foremost true and honest with the God who loves us more fiercely than anyone else ever could. Go to God bravely and give Him every broken and burned and bruised piece of your heart. He saw and knew the nastiest parts of you and still died on a cross for those very sins—our communion with Him is our most authentic community. Cling to Him and do not forsake or neglect Him.
After finding the strongest community in our relationship with Christ, then we are set free to be brave in community with our sisters in Christ. This means walking through even the most ordinary seasons when you need community stay interested and also the busiest seasons when you barely have time for community. Walking together as you are mourning deeply or rejoicing greatly (Rm 12:15). Walking together when you have strength to press on or when you feel so weary you don’t know if you can take another step. All of these times are when we need community. This life was not meant to be lived alone. As Christians we are held to high standards and called to fight for a high cause, but this is much easier with our fellow sisters walking hand in hand. Pursue good things with people who are doing the same.
“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” 2 Timothy 2:22
Community, however, is not often created solely over a one-hour long coffee date or while speaking one Sunday after church for 10 minutes. Community is a commitment and it must be fought for and cultivated. The most community creating act that I have seen God use in my life with my closest sisters is confession. Confession calls us to lay out all of our darkest and ugliest parts of who we are in front of our sisters so that we get to experience freedom in the truth. Then we can ask our sisters to come beside us in accountability and prayer that we might grow and flourish while throwing off the sin that entangles us. It is one of the most terrifying and painful experiences, and yet the most beautiful because God has allowed newness of faith and maturity to come from confession as well as even deeper community because of our honesty in struggle.
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed…” James 5:16
This comes full circle back to my longing for people to feel known and loved and included. How beautiful it is that in us being the first to confess our sin, we may be used by God to give freedom to others to share their struggles and trials and convictions for His glory and our growth. This takes only a moment of bravery for potential lifelong relationships that could continue to direct us towards the Light and away from darkness. Darkness must indeed flee when exposed by light—be brave enough to let the light in, even if painful for a moment.
I pray that these words have somehow encouraged you and have even fanned into flame your need to seek out your people, your tribe, your chosen family and be brave enough to take off your masks and allow God to work in the raw beauty of who He made you to be. Allow Him to be your community foundation and let everyone else be a sweet bonus because you are rooted in Him and who He says you are. Go live in the freedom and beauty of confession within community.
Hannah believes she was created to create and feels her life purpose is to connect all beauty back to the truth of Christ it is rooted in. She is passionate about effective graphics, good coffee, and making the most of every awkward situation. She will get married this fall and return to Liberty University as a junior in art school in the Spring of 2019. Follow her on Instagram at @hanboeck