Monday, August 25, 2014

The Beautiful Struggle of Community

Twenty-four hours ago I was fairly certain about what I’d be writing for my “community” link up. I had encouragement in mind – some mention of the letter writing community – but nothing too intense.

And then things collided, and I realized two things. The conversation about community was a bigger and harder than I had been willing to say out loud. And without realizing it, I had been backing away from community.

When The Word On The Street Makes You Want To Flee Community
Our family has been cable-television-free (all television, really) for several years now, but with social media and the twenty-four-hour news cycle, it’s nearly impossible to escape the happenings around the globe and around the country. Nation against nation. Genocide. Executions because of faith. The outbreak of incurable diseases. These things make us want to bar the door, stock all the shelves, and make a plan to go off the grid.

When Racial Strife Makes You Want To Flee Community
This is a hard one and a topic that I have not wanted to jump in to. The racial struggles in our country frustrate me beyond belief. I grew up in Hawaii where my friends and I were about as racially blended as you could get. Everyone was five or six different things – and we just called it “mixed plate” or “chop suey.” Everyone was just “local” and the differences that people noticed fell more to education or socioeconomic status. It wasn’t until I moved to the mainland – to the Pacific Northwest, that I became more cognizant of dividing racial lines. It was here that acquaintances looked at pictures of my family and then hard at me; commenting how interesting it must have been growing up in a mixed race family. My blank look puzzled them and they would press for more details. I didn’t always give them. I didn’t always know what to say. So I wouldn’t say anything at all. And after a time, no one asked anymore.

When Personal Struggles Make You Want To Flee Community
There are times when I feel like the last decade has been nothing but struggle. Struggle with family relationships that take years to restore. Financial struggles that push you to the breaking point. The struggle with physical illness and autoimmune disease. There is nothing like the fine balancing act of feeling as if you need to appear “okay” when you in the midst of a hot, dry, relentless desert time to make you want to run away and eschew everyone. Even those closest to you. Why is it that we so often feel suffering and struggle should have a definitive end date (wouldn’t that be nice?), and when friends, family, and those around us have been laboring under that struggle for an extended period of time (defined by we’re not sure what), then something must be wrong. Those struggling feel exactly the same way. If you have wrestled with broken relationships, unemployment, a financial black hole, or chronic illness, you want nothing more than for it to be done. You long for closure. You want to move on. What you don’t want to do, is have one more person ask how you’re doing; have to share the same prayer request in small group at church for the nineteenth time; or answer one more kind email or phone call about what you need help with. It’s easier to slowly back away and quietly close down contact in your life with anyone who might ask the questions.

All of these things have been weighing on my heart and mind and culminated with two things. 

A conversation with my sister that started out as just one of those things, but led to the uncomfortable revelation that I had unintentionally been incommunicado enough to cause her worry. We have the kind of relationship that will be around and bound heart in hand forever. You have to understand that. Forever. She is in my heart. She is also not panicky and not flighty. She is not a drama girl. But not hearing from me for a significant amount of time, and having made several attempts to connect with me that I did not respond to, caused a bump. Said bump resolved in about ten minutes (plus the normality of the preceding conversation), but it happened nonetheless. And I had to think about why.

Then there IF Equip and Galatians. I’ve been going through the study with the IF Equip community and have been relishing breaking down the passages into small chunks and digesting them slowly, thoughtfully, and in some cases – with new discoveries after reading this book for years. There is much here about the gospel of grace, the intention of the law, and about encouraging, supporting, and lifting each other up in community. And at the end of each day, we are challenged with this:
If you believe this to be true (what we just read), what does this mean about you, God, and the world.
I read that challenge each day of the study. Today it hit me hard.

If I truly believe that we are no longer under law, but under grace; if I truly believe that there is no differentiation under grace; if I truly believe that we are all Christ and inheritors of the promise, what does that mean?

Here’s what this means to me today:
  • I think the heart of God breaks when his children – believers in his word – look for and focus on the differences that divide us.
  • I think the world is a terribly broken place, but we have the opportunity to actively seek out joy in this place – and that one way joy comes is in being there for each other in community.
  • I believe that community extends beyond those we are in community with, and encompasses the community of a world in need. 
  • I believe that while we are not justified by the law and do not obtain salvation from it, our obedience to the law is an outpouring of the faith that we have been given by grace. 
  • I believe, as I was raised to believe, that race is not something to divide us. But that it does. And that not participating in making it better isn’t an option. 
  • I believe that it’s okay for me to be comfortable with being uncomfortable about the conversation, but that I should still jump in. Because my story is another perspective in that conversation, and it can be important too. 
  • I believe I struggle with the willingness to be vulnerable and truly authentic – because I don’t want to appear weak or in need of help, but that in not admitting to those weaknesses and asking for help, I deprive others from their opportunity to be a blessing in standing in the gap for me – whatever that gap might be.
  • I believe that we were created for community. Living, breathing community. Whether online or in real life – or both. It is our calling. It is necessary.
  • I believe I need to stay and not flee community.
  • And finally, like the quote from Kristen Welch that I have over my desk, I believe that community can change the world. We can change the world. By meeting the needs of another. One person at a time.
Let’s be brave together in community.

I’m linking up with one of my favourite people and favourite communities today – Kaitlyn is hosting a link up for friends participating in Round Three of the #fmfpartysnailmail to talk about community. Talk about community! This group that grew out of the Five Minute Fridays shares weekly letters amongst a growing group of women (over one hundred this time!) for an eight week period. The letters help develop the community and encourage and uplift both the sender and the receiver (my experience at any rate).

I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!


  1. Oh Girlie... I love this so! (I read this instead of writing my own post... sigh... Aaaaah - Distractions! I will get to it - maybe tomorrow?) ;) Standing with you, sweet friend! We really can change the world!

  2. Yes, you HAVE to stay in community because this community need you.....I need you. You give me encouragement to think we can change the world.


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