Called To Community

Does the word community scare you?

I’m not exactly a fan of the word, let alone being part of one.  There have been so many hurts in my past due to being in a community.  Some were Christian communities, some not.  After a while it seemed pointless in trying to find my place.  I figured, “If I can isolate in this group of people, why don’t I just walk away?”  I walked away from some groups when the drama became too much, or when I was simply exhausted from trying to fit in and find my place.  The isolation came from that exhaustion and eventually I’d know to count the group as just another loss.  I often questioned why I kept trying with each new group, expecting something different.  Why try when it always turned out the same way in the end?

You see, in return from all of the hurt, I began thinking that I could do life alone.  Then, when I came to know Jesus, I could do life with only Him.  I didn’t need to let any friends in and I didn’t need to ask for help.  I was fully capable of doing life with Jesus.  Forget about the people He had placed in my life to guide me and to help me turn away from my sin.  Nope, I didn’t need any of that and I was going to prove everyone wrong.  Over and over again the wall was built, torn down, and built up again.

While trying to express my want to “do life alone”, I was being told that I needed to be part of a community.  That God calls us to be in community with other believers.  This was something I dismissed, continued to question, and kept trying to come up with reasons why I should walk away.  My wanting to walk away centered on some sort of hurt.  Of course, with every reason I found to walk away, there was always some truth someone had to show me it wasn’t what God wanted for my life.

My spiritual brothers and sisters, if one of our faithful has fallen into a trap and is snared by sin, don’t stand idle and watch his demise.  Gently restore him, being careful not to step into your own snare. ~ Galatians 6:1 (The Voice)

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read and heard that very scripture, usually from the NIV.  Something new stood out to me while I was doing some journaling over Galatians 6.  This verse is so clear about calling us into a community with other believers, to be there to help each other, to be there when someone is struggling.  We aren’t told to cast them aside and have them figure it all out on their own.  We aren’t told to tell them they should be better than they are and not deal with a certain behavior anymore because they should be over it.  God calls us to help restore them.

As someone who is in recovery from addictions, “self” issues, and relational trust issues, this is a big revelation.  I have experienced being cast aside.  I’ve been told that I should have let go of certain behaviors by a certain time.  I can also say that I’ve had people reach out and help to restore my life.

It’s because of what I’ve been through that encourages me to act on this verse.  I don’t want to see fellow Christians go through rejection because of their past and their struggle to move on.  In order to move on I needed God and a community of friends who would stand beside me through the ups and downs of the recovery process.  I needed to be around people who had been doing the work God was preparing me to do.  God helped me to find those people.

It’s time to step up and help our fellow Christians that are hurting.  They walk through the doors of our churches every week.  Some may have a difficult time expressing their hurt because of past rejection.  Be that person that someone can come to.  Be that person that someone can trust.  Be that person that can help restore.  Step outside of your comfort zone.  It could help more than you know!

So, who is God asking you to help in the restoration process?

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Letting. It. Go.

I never thought the day would come when I could say, “I’ve let the anger go.”  That day came around a month ago.  Through the words of others, and God leading me to the right places at the right time, I finally let go of anger I’ve held onto for months!

I had attended a one-day women’s retreat, not really knowing what to expect.  The topics of the day were about friendships and relationships, and forgiveness.  Easy enough to figure out why God had wanted me there!  Later that next week I attended two revival services, and again I heard about relationships and forgiveness.  Pile on what the study was over for BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) that week and I was getting a very clear message from God.

It was time for my feelings to catch up to my forgiveness!

I had harbored anger towards this person that had hurt me very deeply.  I was not ready to let go of that anger, although in my heart I had already forgiven.  I figured that I was just working through a broken relationship and I was in the anger stage.  Thing was, I was stuck there!  I wasn’t willing to let go and move forward, but God was pointing out that it was time.  Was I really ready for that step?  Over the course of five days God kept speaking to me, through various ways, that it was time to let it go.

It was during the altar call on Wednesday night, the last night of revival, that I knew it was time to let go of the anger.  I had held back long enough and I needed to let myself heal.  So up I went, with the person’s name written on a piece of paper, ready to let go of the anger and be freed.  I dropped the paper where those of us responding to the altar call were supposed to, then just kneeled at the altar and cried.  God took my anger from me and it was as if a hundred pound weight had been lifted from my shoulders!  I was free!

Letting go of anger isn’t easy, especially when it comes from extreme hurt.  Holding onto the anger was just hurting me more, allowing the person who had hurt me to still have some control over my emotions.  I knew that my anger would take control over me completely if I was to see this person again, and that I wouldn’t be who God wanted me to be towards them.  Thankfully, during this anger filled season, I never saw them.

God doesn’t want us to live in bondage to our anger.  Until I was ready to let go of my anger, I was going to keep dealing with extreme hurt that I wasn’t able to move past.  James 1:20 (NLT) says, “Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.”  Really hits home with all I went through during this season.  So does Psalm 4:4 (NLT), which says, “Don’t sin by letting anger control you.  Think about it overnight and remain silent.”  I can only imagine the ways that I sinned because of my anger.  How many times do you think about the ways anger has caused you to sin?

Anger is a part of the grieving process, but we aren’t to stay there, in that stage.  We aren’t to let our anger have control of us and pull us away from the life God wants us to lead.  If God is asking you to let go of your anger, are you ready?  What is keeping you from letting it go?

I can honestly say that my life has been more peaceful since letting go of the anger.  I know that, should I ever see the person again that hurt me, I know that I won’t act out in rage.  I can’t worry about the chance of seeing her again, but trust in God that if I do, He will guide me to act in a way that pleases Him.

God, I give you praise for taking away all of my pent up anger and aggression.  I am a new person because of it!  For anyone reading this, I pray that they will release any anger felt towards someone to You.  That they will find healing and restoration for their soul.  In Your Son’s Name I pray, Amen.