The past five days have served as a reminder of how much I need people.
For an introvert, and an independent personality, that’s not an easy thing to believe. It’s an easy thing to say and know on a shallow level, but it’s a hard, humbling thing to really grasp on a heart level.
What sounds easy is to hide from people, and give surface-level answers to questions about my heart. It sounds easy to do it all on my own, without having to worry about what other people have to think or say. It’s harder to be real, to ask for help, to put yourself out there when you don’t know all the answers yet.
But in the last week, God has been doing some things. Some things that feel huge. That feel too big for me. That I can’t possibly imagine doing without the support of the people I love. And because of grace, I was simultaneously handed a stark set of reminders that this life was never meant to be lived alone.
Last weekend, our missional community went to a lake house to just be with each other. There were no plans, no schedules, just being. On Saturday morning, the girls got together to share about what we were going through and pray for each other. It was a simple act- us sitting on the bed, talking, laughing and encouraging each other. But there was freedom. The amazing freedom that comes from saying words out loud, and not allowing them to live and grow and morph inside your head. From sharing your burdens and not trying to carry them all yourself. We need community- our burdens were not meant to be carried on one set of shoulders.
On Monday night, we had a few of our closest friends over for dinner. We crowded in our tiny apartment, sipped on cinnamon-whiskey-cider cocktails, burned our mouths with dove jalapeno poppers and just were. There was no agenda other than being together and sharing a meal. Intentional conversations happened. Divine appointments happened- not because we forced them, but because we were faithful in gathering together as a community. Two of my closest friends confronted me on my anxiety about these big things God is doing. They encouraged me to stop living the story of my past and walk trustingly in to a different story. It was hard to hear, but they were right. We need community to speak the gospel to us when we can’t speak it to ourselves anymore, to believe for us when we’re struggling to muster the courage, to fight for us when we don’t have strength left.
Tuesday night, I got the privilege of seeing this happen with my college small group girls. We talked about friendship and why God created us to go through life side-by-side. Then, I read them this quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
But God has put this Word into the mouth of men in order that it may be communicated to other men. When one person is struck by the Word, he speaks to others. God has willed that we should seek and find His living Word in the witness of a brother, in the mouth of a man. Therefore, the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he can’t help himself without misrepresenting the truth. He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation. He needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ. The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother’s is sure.
After discussing it for a few minutes, I gave them an opportunity to be vulnerable with each other, and in turn, to speak encouragement to each other. For the next 15 minutes I got to see girls share their fears and anxieties, and watch their friends cry with them, read scripture to them and speak compassionate words. For some of these girls, it was the first time they had met one another. Their courage to be honest, and risk looking silly for the sake of being real moved my heart. The way they went straight to the Word for encouraging words was incredible, and convicted me of too often settling for the world’s wisdom in an attempt to comfort. They reminded me what it looks like to let someone in, to hurt with someone, and bring them to the only place that can offer true life and comfort. We need community because we are the Word of God to each other.
Yesterday, my introvert was worn out but my heart was full. I can claim independence all day, but the reality is that I’m healthier when I operate as a sister in a family instead of a lone ranger out to prove herself. Sometimes, I just need a few people-filled days to remind me that life is better when we live it together.