We’re spending 5 weeks chatting on the sofa over hot tea, cookies, and 5 questions about in real life friendship. Won’t you join us?

  1. 09/04 Week 1: “What does community mean to you?”
  2. 09/11 Week 2: “How do we stop hiding from and open ourselves up to community?”
  3. 09/18 Week 3: “How do we forgive past hurt by community?”
  4. 09/25 Week 4: “How do we build local community: some practical ideas.”
  5. 10/02 Week 5: “How do we build community right where we are, not letting circumstances limit our connections?”

Every Friday we’ll invite you to share your thoughts – link up a post, share a comment, discuss on Facebook.

We loved hearing your thoughts last week on how to come out of hiding and connect with community. Congrats to Brooke who won the (in)courage (in)RL T-Shirt for the post she linked up – here’s a peek – you should really go and read it:

He has given me community in a way I could have never imagined just a few years ago. He has nudged me to step out of my comfort zone, beyond the fear and risk rejection. He has encouraged me to join small groups, to volunteer with new people, to try something totally new, to take that promotion. In return, He’s amazed me with how He continues to shape and change me.

And the only way to step out of your comfort zone is to lean on and rely on Him, the One you know will never reject you.

We’re looking forward to hearing from you guys and blessing at least one of you each week with some of our (in)RL resources.

So, this week we’re discussing how to forgive past hurt by community.

The feet of (in)courage

Let’s not even try to pretend it’s easy. Or that we should simply press through, or shake it off, or “let it slide.” Perhaps, if we can just allow ourselves to set aside those silly notions, we can get to the other side in one piece. Because being hurt hurts. Plain and simple.

Here’s the thing: there are no perfect people. Not even in community.

We— the imperfect — worship together, and we serve together. We share recipes and grocery shopping tips. We help each other move, and we pick up each other’s children from school. We share our dreams and we confess our failures. We bake and deliver casseroles, and we wait and pray with each other in hospital emergency rooms.

It is a beautiful thing.

Until it isn’t.

A few years ago, I got my heart broken, right in the middle of community. I don’t think there are many hurts worse than the ones we receive in community, and I don’t wish it on you. I don’t wish it on anyone. Most of the time, these hurts catch us completely off guard. I think it would be a beautiful thing if no one ever had to know a hurt like that. After all, community is all about love. Right?

Even when we’re at our best, hurting one another is inevitable. Because we’re not perfect. And here’s the subtle danger in being hurt: letting my hurt feelings keep me from ever living in community again. I can build a wall around myself and keep you at arm’s length and I can do life on my own, thank you very much.

But then, what I am supposed to do with this…

You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor. ~James 3:18, MSG (emphasis mine).

This is more than building a wall, pressing through, shaking it off, or letting it slide. No, those are the easy options. The hard work is staying engaged, admitting where it hurts, offering the gift of a sincere apology when necessary, and — when we’re ready — offering forgiveness.

It’s true that sometimes things get more than simply messy, and then it may be time to step away. But when we’re just bumping up against each other in the day-to-day of life together, accepting the challenge to stay is often the greatest gift we can offer one another.

Yeah. Let’s not even try to pretend it’s easy. Community isn’t always easy.

But it’s worth it. Community is definitely worth it.

By Deidra Riggs

Image by Dawn Camp

Free Printable: Just CLICK HERE to download a free 8.5 x 11 printable version of the above quote on friendship.

It’s this week’s free (in)RL Check-In Printable – featuring copy and art from a postcard in the our new Postcards from God’s Beach House, Friendship Set.

{The downloadable print is available through DaySpring.com. This is a free download and your credit card information will not be requested. You’ll receive a link to the Printable in your confirmation email. Easy. Free. And Fun.}

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  • http://mrrpg219.blogspot.com/ Jessica

    This couldn’t have arrived at a more perfect time. And that’s just how I know God meant this message for me. Thank you, thank you for being His mouthpiece today!

    • http://www.incourage.me Lisa-Jo@incourage

      So glad to hear that, Jessica. Blessings on you today.

    • Victoria

      Wow! This really blessed me. I’m in ministry and currently at a conference. During my time here, God has helped me see that I was still hurting from a past injustice from within community. I asked the person to forgive me because I was hurt by what she did. I submitted myself to God’s healing process and I feel better just admitting that I was hurt. THANK YOU!

      • http://www.deidrariggs.com Deidra

        I’m speechless, Victoria. Your words here about asking forgiveness from the one whose actions caused you pain…

        Brave. And I am quietly humbled here.

  • http://dailyrefined.blogspot.com Leigh Kay

    I’ve missed chatting with you Deidra. Your heart and words are so comforting, so truth-giving because they are His direct to our fractured hearts. You know loss and pain and you do not pretend to be unacquainted. That is bravery.
    You build up instead of tear down. That is love.
    You turn back to His accuracy when bombarded with his lies. That is faith.

    I have missed our sporadic conversation and I want you to know I am thankful for you. For what He is doing in your life. For how you warmly, openly, unashamedly share the Love of your life with everyone in yours. Thank you. “Praise the Father, praise the Son, praise the Spirit, three in one.”

    • http://www.deidrariggs.com Deidra

      Leigh Kay, thank you for this sweet affirmation. I’ve missed you, too. I hope you are well, my friend.

  • http://outofmyallegedmind.com/ Nancy Franson

    I was angry at my church for a couple of years. We’d had a major disagreement in our midst about calling a pastor, and I just didn’t know how those people could be so hateful and mean. I fussed and fumed and laid awake at night because I’d been disappointed and hurt by my community.

    A couple of weeks ago, we celebrated the installation of a new associate pastor. During the reception following the service, I found myself standing next to someone I’d been angry at for a really long time. We were celebrating together, and it struck me that this is what church is: a place where a lot of messed up sinful people come together, do and say rotten horrible things to one another, and then Jesus shows us that he’s the real deal. He really did come to repair, restore, and reconcile all things. Even those sinful people within the church.

    • http://www.deidrariggs.com Deidra

      Wow, Nancy. What a beautiful image of reconciliation. God is so good at fixing the fractured Body of Christ.

      Thank you for sharing this story. It is a lovely picture of what God can do when we accept the challenge to stay. You used the word “celebrating” and that makes me smile. It’s a party, isn’t it? When God puts things back together, it is worth celebrating!

  • http://redemptionsbeauty.com Shelly Miller

    You know I get this as a pastors wife. When people hurt your husband, it’s hard to enter into community with those you know did the hurting. But the question I’ve been asking myself is, do I allow those people to become a stumbling block in my faith. My soul deepens in the crowds of community so no, I’m not. Thanks for not sugar coating it Deidra, community isn’t always easy.

    • http://www.deidrariggs.com Deidra

      Oh, yes. I know you get this.

      I like the question you ask yourself. And the answer. It’s tough to keep pressing in when the very people with whom you’re called to share community can make life at home less than wonderful. It’s a unique journey, and I’m honored to share it with you, Shelly.

  • http://www.gettingdownwithjesus.com Jennifer@GDWJ

    Yes, it is hard work, Deidra. Thank you for encouraging us to press through; thank you for leading by example. You are the real deal, girlfriend.

    Love to you.

  • http://aheavenlyjourney.net Melissa

    This whole community theme is really hitting home for me right now. Something I’ve been praying is that God would help me see people through His eyes instead of through my filters of past hurts. That is helping SO much!

    • http://www.deidrariggs.com Deidra

      What a wise prayer, Melissa!

      I’m so glad this theme is speaking to you. It’s the theme of the next (in)RL meet up!

  • http://sandraheskaking.com Sandra Heska King

    This sounds a lot like family.

    I think about how you, the hurt one, reached out to repair–and how we are only responsible for our own behavior. But how easy it is to unknowingly hurt another hurting. How words and actions can be misinterpreted.

    Do you have any idea how grateful I am for you?

    • http://www.deidrariggs.com Deidra

      You raise a good point, Sandy (because that’s what you do, my friend). Sometimes we don’t even know we’ve hurt someone. And sometimes we misinterpret the actions and/or words of others. One thing that helps me is to remember that love hopes the best.

      And me? I’m grateful for you.

  • Paula Clark

    One of the greatest lessons taught me by God was forgiveness. He spoke to my heart and said, “If you do not forgive, I will not forgive you. You can’t go to heaven with unforgiveness.” Immediately, I asked for forgiveness and forgave the person in my community. There was no discussing it or rehashing it. It was I forgive Lord. Such great joy and peace filled my life, and to this day over 30 years of friendship. Forgiveness is not to be taken lightly.

  • http://marinaskitchentable.blogspot.com marina bromley

    Oh. OUCH. Yes, hurt more than once.

    Thanks Deidra, for bringing God’s perspective, with tenderness, into the topic.

    If I’ve learned one thing from my lessons, it’s that I’d rather be hurt, than hurt others, but I prefer that no one get hurt!! I think that somehow it’s one of the life lessons God lets us experience to understand what it’s like to “walk a mile in her shoes”, and help us to be tenderhearted, welcoming, and encouraging to new women (or people) in community.

  • http://www.beautyoutofdust.wordpress.com Libby

    This one is hard for me! Because my experience is this one: “It’s true that sometimes things get more than simply messy, and then it may be time to step away.”
    More than messy it was downright unhealthy for me and my family. Stepping away was no doubt what God was telling us to do. You can forgive someone and still need to step away depending on the circumstances.
    And then He surprised us with community again and in a very raw and real way. Helping us see that it’s not about being perfect, far from it, we are all a mess. And it’s not about being comfortable and moving every time we are even slightly hurt. But it’s exactly what the James verse said, doing the hard work and treating each other with love and respect and honor.

    • http://www.deidrariggs.com Deidra

      “You can forgive someone and still need to step away depending on the circumstances.” So true.

      And this, “…it’s not about being comfortable and moving every time we are even slightly hurt.”

      You’ve got a lot of wisdom, Libby girl! So glad God redeemed that more than simply messy season in your life. Glad to know you in real life, too!

  • Sally

    This who series is perfect. Sometimes you feel alone, but you see other churches and people deal with the same things. I once heard, “You choose to be offended” and then recently by a complete stranger (on the radio) heard a similar “serman”, and it brought back to rememberance that we choose to let others hurt us. Yes, they may be wrong and mean and cruel, but that is their problem. Yes, I know sometimes there are things done to us that do effect us, I am living proof of HORRIBLE things done to me without me even doing anything to deserve it and it has totally re-shaped my life into a future I hadn’t planned, but God is still in control and on His throne and He knows to end. I just have to remember He put me here and these are the ones whom He put into my life, and some may come and some may go, but His Word remains faithful. Jesus had many reasons to be offended, but never once did he choose to tak up the offense many were trying to put upon. I choose NOT to be offended, though many may try, My God is greater and He is on the side of the righteous, so I must continue to stay on His good side :)

  • http://lauraboggess.com Laura

    Yes. Yes! Hard work. Listening to this with my heart today, Deidra.

  • maya

    Being hurt in this sometimes-unfair world is a common thing in our life. Like our Father in heaven who has been tortured mentally and physically we can see how He passes it with a sincere heart. He forgives all the things done to Him even He sacrifice His life to save our life.
    What we encounter in this life is much less than He did in the past. Sometimes, I feel that even my bestfriend hurts my heart. It remains for days,but everytime I come to GOd through mu prayer I always say everything to Him what matter my heart and my mind. I have always felt free to tell everthing bothering my mind. And then I feel He touches me,gives me strength to forgive and accept every unfair thing done to me. Makes me remember what Jesus has encountered to save our life. Second to none….
    So,just come to Jesus, give our heart to be healed, to receive His love so that we can learn to forgive and forget. Only Jesus is the best healer.

  • Gayla

    What an eye opener this is! I had a very dirty trick played on me in a church I attended and left the church feeling so hurt and betrayed. I have not sought out another church of my own but just went to church with one of my children and then that church went through a horrible split. I just don’t go at all now and get fed through TV and radio ministries. I had not really thought through why I’m not looking for a real church with people who can hurt me again. Thanks for helping me see this. Now I suppose I’m going to have to figure out a way to make a change and get back in there. In many situations my attitude is. one time shame on you but two times shame on me because I let you, again, plugging in the appropriate situation. Maybe I’m treating God the same way. Boy, is this going to take a lot of thought and prayer.

    • http://www.deidrariggs.com Deidra

      Oh, I know that mantra. In my house it goes like this: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” For such a long time, that was my default.

      It is hard work. That verse in James is SO true. I’m praying with you, Gayla. I’m praying you find the right place — the community God has just for you. It won’t be perfect, but it will be the place God has for you.

  • Barbara

    Deidra, you have no idea how God placed this just for me today! thank you.

    • Prisca

      I really am grateful for having come across this. I have recently gone through a major hurt by the community, still am, I wish I could tell it all here but it would be too long, I really need counsel :(

    • http://www.deidrariggs.com Deidra

      So glad, Barbara!

      • http://www.deidrariggs.com Deidra

        Prisca, please send me an email. I’m at jumpingtandem [at] gmail [dot] com.

  • Ashley M.

    “…accepting the challenge to stay is often the greatest gift we can offer one another.” This statement really resonates with the season I find myself in right now. At times, I am so uncomfortable, I just want to run away from everything! I know there is a place for new beginnings, but it needs to be walked out with the fruit of the Spirit and not my fear, worry, doubt, and anger. My family and workplace are two examples of community where I’m finding it very necessary to do the “hard work of getting along with each other.” By God’s grace and power all things are possible! Thank you for this timely post!

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  • brittany jacobson

    Ive been hurt by cominuty i can relate all share my story cause maybe it will help someone. I used to be part of all girls small group that was meeting at my house for the longenst time then the leader of the group decided to hold group at her house so we went to her house little did i know what was instore for me. as soon as i got there the girl gave me the cold shoulder and was rude to me and when we started are quote on qoute bible study it was not a bible study it was a fight she basically told everyithing she hated about me and all my small group friends were silent as she was yelling at me. that broke all of us apart but since then God has restored old friendsips slowly. and ive been leading small groups and leading small groups online.

    • http://www.deidrariggs.com Deidra

      Oh, Brittany! I’m so sorry you experienced this, and I’m grateful that you shared you story here.

      It amazes me when I hear about the way God restores and redeems. Thank you for sharing this with us. Thank you for being so brave!

  • Janet Young

    Amen!….I like to remember the example we’re given in the life of Joseph, like Jesus, he didn’t focus on his circumstances, those that wronged him or their acts, but kept his eyes on the Lord, and trusted that he not only hadn’t forsaken him, but was directing him through these events into a bigger picture! We need to forgive others and pray for those that have hurt us, let go and allow the Holy Spirit do his work through whatever has taken place to do his work on the hearts envolved. Joseph’s brothers repented for their sins and God used what was meant for evil for his good (Gen. 50:17-20 ) which resulted in Glory to God! When we trust the Lord to be our shelter he will get us through the storms of this life Ps. 91:1;Isa. 41:10

  • http://www.c21daniel.com Frances J. Middleton

    I simply love this message on “Forgiveness” . As humans in this “Race”, we will encounter many “Hurts”. Thanks for acknowledging the ways we can use to get past the hurts!

  • Klyoni

    When I think community-unfortunately all I want to do is run and hide! I do not want to be brave, I do not want to work hard I simply want to protect myself-what’s left of me. I do not wish to be negative but my last experience with community still hurts real bad and I am still struggling to forgive. The hurt is now coupled with guilt because I know full well my LORD says forgive 70 x 70 but still my heart bleeds and forgiveness refuses to come in. Your prayers will help. Sending this post is a huge step for me. I thank God.

    • http://www.deidrariggs.com Deidra

      I think it’s a journey, Klyoni. It takes time. And we need to be true to ourselves, every step along the way. It IS hard work. And when the wound still bleeds, it needs to be tended to, and protected. I’m so glad you posted this comment here. Take your time, my friend. I’m praying for you. I’m praying the guilt falls away. I’m praying your heart stays open. I’m praying for your journey.

      Take your time.

      • Klyoni

        Thank you. Thank you so much.

  • Tammy

    I have been in the same community for over 50 yrs. I know these people and they are good, loving, Christ focused people. But they mess up sometimes. Sometimes we get so familiar with each other that we forget to be kind and respectful. Several years ago, we had a ladies event. Several of us volunteered to make a casserole according to a prescribed recipe. The recipe specified a 13 x 9 dish. When I made my dish, I discovered that my 13 x 9 dish had been taken to a new mom and not returned yet. So I used an oval dish that would hold the casserole. When I got to the dinner I put my dish with the others and started helping out in the kitchen. Most of the other helpers were busy setting tables, putting out decorations but I was in the kitchen with another sister. Soon I heard her exclaim “Oh no! Someone didn’t follow directions!” I turned around to see her holding my casserole dish. She continued to go on about how this person had not followed the recipe. I said “Well maybe they didn’t have a 13 x 9 dish” She continued in her rant. Finally I said “That is my dish”. Her mouth clamped shut. I didn’t know what to say. I was humiliated. Several other women came in and she said “Well, I just put my foot in my mouth, going on about her casserole.” She laughed and went on as if nothing had happened. After the dinner was over I went to retrieve my dish and it had been but to the back and not used. Now it wasn’t a big deal and I have gotten over it but others would not have. And my biggest problem was that she admitted her fault but never felt the need to apologize. When we find ourselves in an offense, we must be respectful of the person and apologize. That is part of repentance. Others I know have been told to “be tough” or “get a thicker skin”. Where is this in scripture. We are told be to gentle, tender hearted.

    • http://www.deidrariggs.com Deidra

      An apology has so much power to heal. You’ve written rich wisdom here, Tammy. Thank you for sharing this hard story because we need to be reminded how important it is to speak the words: “I’m sorry,” or “I was wrong.”

  • Mary Barlow

    Every time I come across this site I just delete it without looking. Today I stopped and read it, the words being hurt in community lept of the page at me. All the words spoken about God are words I know by heart, but they are words I’m not feeling in my heart. I have truely built a wall and yes I am the only one in it. I turned away from community and my church but most of all I turned away from God. I have a deep longing for all of the above, and my first step in trying to return is reading the inRL book. God really spoke to me today through you, and I pray for all those who see these words that God will break through to them also.

    • http://www.deidrariggs.com Deidra

      Mary, I’m so glad you stayed here today. So glad you stayed. I know that wall because I have built my own. Your words here today? I can feel them. I feel your heart here and I want you to know that I see you, and you are not alone.

  • Marge

    I feel that God doesn’t expect us to “roll over and take it” or be fools and get stepped on– that is why we have learned communication skills. We can state how we feel in non-offensive and gentle ways so that the person hurting us may accept that they have hurt us. Sometimes we need to tell it like it is and walk away in order to help the other person to see that righteous consequences (lack of friendship) can result from our hurtful actions and words. When someone who is hateful realized that no-one wants to be their friend if they continue to act in mean ways, they just might change their ways. Don’t we teach our children this too? Yet, we have to reach out after a time of drought for that person to show them what real loving can be like when we continue positive

  • Marge

    Continue with positive words and actions since that person may have been brought up not ever knowing much about how that feels

  • http://ithoughtiknewwhatlovewas.com Erin

    Thanks for this. My heart’s been wounded by people in Christian community. It’s made me not want to be a part of any community, but I keep pressing in and seeking people who are at least attempting to love like Jesus. There’s no one who does more damage than the person closest to us. So, thanks for your words that we don’t just let it slide or pretend it’s okay. That’s one way to remain hurt and broken.

  • Klyoni

    Mary, All- God says it’s healing time. He’s gotten our attention. Let’s take it one step at a time but let us never stop healing. With love.

  • http://courageinrl delores

    Today i read all your storys and can relate to them im in a very hurtful spot with one of my daughters now and i pray we all make it through this it is very painfull and hurts soooo bad for all of us in this family im glade im not alone thanks delores

  • Cindy

    Thank you for sharing this. I can really relate to this right now. I have been hurt and abandoned by my Christian “friends” who I guess are no longer my friends. I have removed myself and my family from our community… I know that probably isn’t the right thing to do, but I really am having a hard time going back into a situation where there is so much hurt. I feel very protective of my kids who are in the middle of all of this. I feel very helpless. I pray that God will speak to me and help me to embrace some community again. I feel lost without it. It has left a huge hole in my life and my heart.

  • http://marniarnold.com Marni Arnold

    One way I am learning to forgive hurt I have experienced from community is simply engaging in it in spite of how it has hurt me in the past. Sometimes, we can’t get past the pain even when we forgive…because forgiveness is more walked out than a one time gig. It has to be lived out. So I am finding it more and more in my own life to simply engage even when I don’t feel like it. I don’t want to one inkling of a second give the enemy the ability take hold and root of my life and how I engage in relationships and community. This guy wants me separated and isolated…so of course my flesh will not feel like engaging because of how I have been hurt in the past. So if I simply push on through, in Christ’s strength within me, despite the feelings of my flesh…and engage…I find I am right where I need to be in His grace and mercy within community. Where He needs me to be.

    • http://courageinrl delores

      Marni Arnold your story is so much like God wants us to be i listen to Joyce Myers a lot and thats whats she says too i pray me and my daughter can come to a time like this in our lives pray for us her name is Kathy and mine is Delores thanks for sharing your story

    • Sharon

      Thank you, the words I needed to hear this day. God bless all.

  • http://www.myblessingsunlimited.net/carrieroberts Carrie R

    Realizing that the past is the past and trying to connect with my friends and women in the present is like taking baby steps but each day I feel stronger and healthier! These posts and stories encourage more than you know!

  • Sherri

    This post was perfect. God has been showing me how I shy away from relationships b/c of past hurts and what I am missing in ministry, service and simply being able to love others the way He desires.

  • Christine Draper

    I have really been enjoying this series but this one hit the nail on the head for me and I LOOOved the free graphic! A few years ago I was injured at work and became disabled. It turned my life upside down including my ministry work and the ways I could serve in my church. Before the accident I was involved in everything and knew almost everyone who attended our church. When I was bed ridden for over a year in the beginning there were lots of phone calls, cards and well wishes but as time went on they trickled to nearly no contact. I was deeply wounded and felt abandoned. It took me a long time to do more than just attend Sunday service again. But as I did God sent other women to me that felt the same way for a multitude of reasons, and has set in my heart a deep burden for encouraging women. I have since started a Secret Sisters Ministry. but almost daily God is faithful to put someone in my path that needs encouraging and it makes me realize that I am not alone in these feelings, and that we all need to be honest about them and stick together because there is strength in numbers. United we stand, divided we fall. We must be ready to ask and to be asked to send the enemy packing when he comes knocking at our doors with lies that keep us isolated.

  • http://www.yahoomai.com Vijay Victoria

    I have to say the same words of Jessica:

    “This couldn’t have arrived at a more perfect time. And that’s just how I know God meant this message for me. Thank you, thank you for being His mouthpiece today!”

    Thank you Jesus…

  • VL

    I read through this today (9/27). Good timing and thank you. I had just sent an email to a good friend I trust & was honest about feelings in the ministry we’re both involved in. Yes, hurt hurts, but so does healing. It never feels good when your broken bone is set, but it must be set & properly so for the bone to grow back correctly over time. Proper setting, time for healing; the body’s resources regroup to heal. God is so good, so ordered, and so wanting his love poured into and out through His Body of believers, with all its parts. This is how His hands, feet, and heart move out to a huring world.

  • L. Ellen

    I am just reading this today, and I have to echo that the timing (10 days later) is just right. And why wouldn’t it be? Perfect timing is only from the Lord. Over a year ago, our church community split over the firing of pastors. My husband and I ended up in a group that was seeking reconciliation—and after a long, exhausting, hurtful season we decided to leave the church. A “lost” group of mostly couples from the church met for months for Scripture and Prayer to support each other in true community. Then last week a deep desire to belong to a group of Christian women began to fill me. Thank you Lord. This may be the next step in the healing.

  • Deb Stevens

    yeah, so i like to build walls … :(

    a very good friend of mine severed our closeness when they decided to go down a path that would ultimately keep me from her fellowship .. why would she deliberately choose that? … we WERE close .. we WERE having fun as girls sharing ideas, advice, buying cute things for each other and exchanging them.

    i was so hurt i was angry. i knew i didnt have a right to be. i used to be in her shoes just 10yrs ago. i knew i needed to let it hit my heart hard enough to have compassion on her. yeah i knew it, and yet i miss her dearly ..

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