Why would anybody want to live in community? I’ve been asking myself this a lot lately. My life is full. Full to the rim with relationships, miscommunications, companionship, suffocation, hospitality and anxiety. I can’t count the sleepless nights, playing and re-playing situations. Frustrated by people, frustrated by my reactions to people.
Reflecting on last weeks meeting, I ponder which direction to go with this posting. Where is the community at right now?
I want to be truthful. I’m learning that holding anxiety and conflict inside can be poison to the human body , to the mind and to relationships. There is something exceptionally healing in the safety of a listener, a sounding board, someone who can relate.
There are things inside of me that grip me with fear. Lies I believe. Maybe my parents believe them, maybe even my grandparents.
Community has caused me a lot of tension. There have been times, that my conveniently buried mess, the ugly stuff no ones supposed to see or know about, has come uncontrollably spewing out of me! This has left me embarrassingly exposed before my friends. Will they accept me..or reject me?
There are plenty of personalities floating around, prying and irking, curious little creatures, eager for intimacy. I instinctively take my Q, and slip into self preservation mode.
A friend shared a story with me: She was commissioned to do a painting. She worked on it faithfully in her art class. Her art teacher took a keen interest in her success as well. Each time she thought she was finished, the teacher would encourage her to keep working at it. There was always something to be tweaked. Finally, she was sure the painting was complete. The teacher came up behind her, looked at the painting and proceeded to paint a big black streak across the canvas. She was so mad, he just wrecked everything! The teacher looked at her and said, “You are afraid of depth.”
Misty hadn’t told me this story metaphorically, but when she said that last line, my stomach started to turn, and I sensed God challenging me. Urging me to let down my guard to the people he’s placed around me. I also heard a warning, it will be painful at times, to see that ugly black streak across the canvas.
Your wondering how this relates to last weeks meeting..? Adam Nash shared his story last Tuesday night with us. He told us memories from his childhood, and parts of his life growing up -a rambunctious pastors kid. I was struck by his transparency. He said he had no regrets (“well, maybe one”, he admitted), because his experiences and even mistakes have lead him down the path to where he is today, shaped him into the person he is now. He talked about his relationship with his father and a common trend all through growing up of seeking approval from his dad. Adam didn’t sugar coat his story for us, he pretty much laid it all out there before us…I guess he was willing to risk our Judgment, fair or unfair.
Vulnerability still causes me a fair amount of discomfort. However I long to have texture and depth in my life. I want to learn to respond out of love, and not fear or lies. Community has brought me to a place where I am utterly dependant on God’s grace and mercy. I am also left to except the grace of my friends.
Once in a while, I catch a glimpse of this painting being worked on. It’s quite an interesting piece, a reflection of me I hardly recognize. There’s still distortion from disproportion, and parts that are almost warped by cynicism. Still, in spite my harsh critique I see something beautiful is emerging. So thank you Adam, your openness has inspired me to continue this pursuit of depth in relationship.
“I will give thanks to your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness, because your promises are backed up by the honor of your name. When I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me the strength I need…don’t abandon me, for you made me.” Psalm 138: 2,3 & 8