If ever I WISHED my (in)courage post could be a two-way conversation, it's now! As I process out loud in this space–and I beg your forgiveness in advance for its length–hearing your thoughts is what I most desire.
If you've been reading (in)courage since its launch, can you believe how quickly this year has flown? Our first writing theme was "courage" and my inaugural post, Unintentional Lessons, remains one of my favorites; it was a heart investment.
The creative direction shifted early on to allow writers the freedom to choose topic rather than focus on a monthly theme. So, returning to our roots for the celebration of our first anniversary–and, of YOU, our readers–this month we're all focusing on a theme that parallels what (in)courage has come to mean for so many: community…friendship. Take a look at the story behind (in)courage and you'll see how perfectly this aligns.
But I've got a problem. I'm conflicted.
It's not uncommon for me to toss several drafts before landing what you see here; I'm grateful for this platform and choose carefully my words. Often, I feel a Holy Spirit prompting about what to write, and other times I wrestle through the entire blasted post! Reader response always confirms I wrote exactly what I was "supposed" to write, however, regardless of the ease or struggle to arrive at delivery.
This time I've already written–and deleted–three!
My first draft centered on the brilliant work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together, The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community. In Chapter five, Bonhoeffer offers a beautiful explanation of the role of confession in community. "A confession of sin in the presence of all the members of the congregation is not required to restore one to fellowship with the whole congregation. I meet the whole congregation in the one brother to whom I confess my sins and who forgives my sins."
Had I fully unpacked that post, my hope was to encourage you to share unconfessed sin with a believer-friend so you could "find the forgiveness of sin in the fellowship of Jesus Christ and your [sister]". That sin you think is unforgivable, the one that makes you unlovable, your imagined barrier to salvation.
As Bonhoeffer says, "In confession the break-through to community takes place…the sin confessed has helped him to find true fellowship with the brethren in Jesus Christ." As the recipient of this kind of grace-friendship and redemptive confession, I know the liberation forgiveness brings; it's powerful and life-changing.
My second post idea was called "Friend is a Verb." It was warm and fuzzy and listy–demonstrating how friendship is more than words. Like when ~
- Michelle showed up on my back doorstep with cleaning supplies in hand to help me get ready to move…
- and Isabel looked me in the eye and said as kindly as she could, "You really need to buy new shoes." (If I had pictures, you would understand "need" wasn't an exaggeration.)
- and Cassie posted obnoxious birthday signs on the doors of all my college classes…
- and Amanda continuing to ask me to walk because she knows I need to for physical AND mental reasons :)…
- not to mention meals by the dozens when I had my babies and following my father's death.
My goal in that post was to encourage you to be an active friend, learning the love languages of those in your sphere and then speaking it!
My third attempt was the most difficult to write because it's the most painful. It might've been titled, "Where's My Community?"
It was a two-parter, the first dealing with my inability to connect with other women at a consistently deep level since moving to Tennessee seven years ago. There are women here I love and who love me, but we're lacking intimacy, the deepest sort of knowing. I've tasted this in past years, so its void is palpable.
The second half of that was admitting my resistance to online community.
Have you ever heard how people who have kicked their nicotine habit are the most sensitive to smoke afterwards? My first several years as a blogger I knew more about my readers then I did about friends and family. This was before the explosion of Facebook and Twitter, and I read and commented to dozens of blogs daily; it was typically reciprocated.
My real life and online life were out of balance. Once I could objectively see this and understand the implications and consequences, I intentionally retreated from online friendships while pursuing women in my hometown (which if you read a few paragraphs above, has not been easy).
The paradox comes when you begin meeting your online friends at blogging conferences and they become real life lovies–and the line evaporates!
This imaginary post had three-fold purpose:
- To encourage you to be an intentional, persistent and patient friend
- To empathize with those who are lonely and to suggest that God is at work in and through you during these seasons
- To caution against investing in online community at the expense of family and hometown friends
Isn't this the beauty of community–thinking "out loud" among friends? Opening floodgates and pouring out self one to another? In this case, y'all accepting me and my scattered thoughts on friendship in spite my inability to, you know, COMPLETE THE THOUGHT?!
Your turn: Which, if any, of my three pseudo-posts most resonated with you? Why? I'm also curious what aspect of (in)courage has meant the most to you this year. Is there anything you'd like to see more of? Less of? Please share!
P.S. Confession: I actually had a fourth post, but I was scared if I toldja, a) you might just think I'm crazy, or b) I might get fired. 🙂