Wednesday, January 4, 2012

{Part II} Two Words for 2012...

Hello there, Handiwork of God!

If you're just joining in, yesterday we started a three-day series on Going Deep in 2012, based on Sunday's sermon from Pastor Aaron Roy. Day One we focused on going deep in the Word. Today we are focusing on going deeper in our relationships.

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I believe God created us for community. All throughout scripture we see beautiful pictures of people building relationships with each other, supporting each other and doing life together. He created us to go deep—our souls long for it. Yet so many of us are simply not in authentic community with other believers. I've been sitting here pondering why that is and five things came to mind. This is certainly not an exhaustive list. I imagine there are many reasons why people aren’t in community. But these are the five things I've witnessed the most. 

1. Fear of rejection. When we fear being rejected, vulnerability becomes our Goliath and we just don't want to face that giant. So we guard ourselves and choose not to step out on that limb to build real friendships. We adopt a "better safe than sorry" mindset, but in turn we become isolated and lonely. 

2. Old wounds that need healing. Sometimes our hurts cause us to shrink back from building new relationships and from engaging in the relationships we already have. But healing is possible, and investing in healthy friendships can actually aid the healing process. {For more on healing and forgiveness, click here and here.}

3. Secret sin.  Sometimes we don't want to open up to other believers for authentic community and accountability because we are afraid of being judged, or because we know it will mean giving up the sins we love. But the benefit of releasing those things and returning to God far outweigh the fear or "inconvenience" of letting other believers go deep with us in community. There's freedom and healing in repentance and confession. {See James 5:13-20}

4. Lack of initiative. I always feel sad when I hear people talk about how no one is reaching out to them in church and how they just don't fit in. It just makes me want to give them a big hug and invite them over for hot chocolate. While I do believe their feelings are valid, I've also come to realize that sometimes we just need to get out there and make the first move. Sign up for community activities. Be the first to say hi. Take the initiative to seek out friendship instead of waiting for friendship to seek you out. 

5. Investing in the wrong circle of friends. There was a time when I spent years investing in one-way friendships. No matter how hard I tried to make it work I always ended up feeling like I didn't fit in, like I wasn't accepted for me. My husband helped me see that I was pouring my heart into unhealthy relationships. He pointed me to the healthy, authentic friendships in my life and encouraged me to invest in those. That has made a world of difference! 

So… what should we do with all this in 2012? …
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Here are my humble suggestions...
1. Give God any relational wounds that might be present in your life. Through forgiveness, release those who have hurt you. Ask God to help you overcome any fear of rejection {if that's present in your life}.

2. If there are secret sins building walls between you and authentic community, submit those to the Lord through repentance and meet with a leader in the church for accountability. {Read James 5:13-16} There's relief in sharing our struggles with a listening ear, especially those older, wiser listening ears.

3. Take the initiative to build community. Even if you're an introvert, make an effort to start some friendships. Pray about your circle of friends. If they are unhealthy, ask God to introduce you to healthy friendships, even if it's just one. 

4. Be intentional. Make time for building the relationships you already have: your family, your spouse, your neighbors, or your church friends. Make a priority of investing in community.

5. Give yourself grace. The last thing we all need is something to add to our to do list for 2012. I love this quote from Christine Cain...
"Things become really hard when I 'have' to do them and really easy when I want to do them... I've decided that in 2012 I don't 'have' to do anything. I want to do what God has called me to." 
Let's not view this as a chore, but as a life giving opportunity to invest in ourselves and our loved ones. Let it flow naturally and organically. :) 
"We need to have people to mourn with and rejoice with, to have accountability with. Without it, church becomes dull and boring... If you are an isolated Christian, you are a dying Christian. If you are an isolated Christian, you are an unhappy Christian. Surround yourself with people who love you and let them ask you the hard questions. Church isn't meant to be a place to say 'Yeah, I'm fine.' It's meant to be a place to be real. Don't be an isolated Christian with no strength. [Engage in community!] It may be the most uncomfortable thing you've ever done, but do it." - Pastor Aaron Roy 
Ready to go deep!

Monique Zackery

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  1. What good advice, I especially like the one about the isolated christian, not that I am really one, but I am not really a mingle-er. I have been very safe in my little space...comfortable you might say, so Lord help me to be in your comfort zone to comfort others. PS Your little picture was very eye catching, I thought it was bread! haha

  2. Hi 1-2Punch! Thanks for stopping in and for commenting. :) I totally hear ya on the whole being comfortable in my little space. I feel the exact same way sometimes! I'm saying the same prayer. I don't want to miss out on the blessing of community because I'm all cozy by myself.

    And bread?! haha. I imagine that would be hard to carve out of bread. :) LOL.

    Blessings to you, sister.

  3. What practical, godly advice! I pray that many will read and heed your post. Blessings!

  4. Thank you, Renee. And thanks for stopping by. Big hug to you, my sister and Happy New Year. :)

  5. I always say this but I really love this idea of hearing something on Sunday and sharing it on Monday! This helps us all because we can't all be at the same church service but being able to benefit from the message is great.

  6. That was definitely one of my goals for 2012 - deepening my relationships... not all of them but being able to take a few relationships and really develop some lasting and meaningful friendships. Thanks for this encouragement!

  7. Hi Fawn! Absolutely. The great things about Hear It/Use It is that it helps me to personally process the lessons I learn from the pulpit. It's great for life application. :) Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Christina, I hear you on the idea of choosing specific relationship to be intentional with. It's about quality, not quantity. :) So glad you stopped by here again. Great to have you! Blessings!


"Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." - Proverbs 16:24