*Thank you to everyone who wrote on community and linked up! We so loved hearing your words. A winner was randomly selected and has been contacted!*
She told me to return the gift. It was too much. She wouldn’t take no for an answer.
I thought I was finally figuring out how to be a friend, to be part of a community. I thought I found someone I could trust, and I let her in to see the real me. Laughter, tears, joy, fear: all of it. I opened myself to this new friendship, so excited to see it blooming.
The night she told me to return the gift she also called me selfish. Said we should no longer be friends if I couldn’t see things her way. I was devastated. My heart began to harden toward community.
Sweet friends, I have been hurt by community. More than once I’ve walked down the painful road of rejection. The kind that makes you want to pull the fuzzy covers over your head and eat double-stuffed mint Oreos. For a long time. By the grace of God, He refused to let me stay there.
When I look back on those moments, somewhere in the middle of mourning the end of the relationships, I see God at work. I see Him drawing me closer to Himself, loving me through the pain, and bending my heart to prepare me for where I am now. Without those hurts, I wouldn’t have come across the incredible online community of (in)courage.
Women who go out of their way to spread the love of Christ through the written word and reach deep into the lives of women around the world. These friends? They took a chance on me. More than once. Now they have become an answer to long-ago prayers as they let me help encourage the (in)couragers and watch God do amazing work to build online community groups.
I realize now that, over time, God has turned the ashes of broken community into beauty. Like my blog – I first used my blog as an escape, an online journal to pour out my heart and my hurts where no one would see what I wrote, until God called me to make it public and use it for His glory. And now? That blog full of hurts is a place where God has built community and a God Sized Dream to use my words to encourage women, especially mamas.
And I would never have had the courage to do something like host (in)RL last year, at a time when I was craving real life community. But I knew women on Twitter who were excited about it and they gave me the boldness to go for it! God met me there, in my home with some of my closest real life friends and He started the seed of another God Sized Dream in my heart.
God uses our pain for His platform. My struggles with community have given me a heart for building community and encouraging women – because I’ve seen the other side. My desire to escape into online community has turned into wonderful, amazing in real life friendships that I could have never imagined. Online community has given me the courage to be in community in real life. So I stay in community even when the enemy tries to convince me I’m not good enough to be there, when he reminds me of my past and brings the scars to the surface. Bottom line? I know this is where God wants me right now. He has refined me, transformed my story of broken community into a story of hope, restoration and joy. He has made beauty of my ashes. Because life? It really is better together.
Click here to come over to our (in)RL page to register for FREE and find out how you can join in on the real life community fun on April 26th & 27th!
Join us today for an (in)courage link up – share a blog post telling us where you have seen God at work in your communities (online or in real life).
Each of you who link up with us (and help us spread the (in)courager’s trailer and a FREE (in)RL registration invitation) will be entered to win one of of the amazing new (in)courage ((together)) necklaces by Lisa Leonard!
1 necklace for every 100 blog posts linked up!
by Crystal Stine, (in)courager cheerleader