Given the opportunity, I would much rather stay at home by myself with a good book and a steaming cup of coffee. I hate crowds. Meeting new people intimidates me. I savor quiet and solitude, a rarity in our busy little household.
But there is another part of me that craves company. While I enjoy solitude, I don’t want it for too long. I’m chatty, so I need someone to listen to my ramblings at some point during the day because quite frankly, I talk to myself enough! And sometimes I just need to know that I am not the only woman out there about to lose her mind because the moment she washed the floors was the exact same moment the kids traipse in with muddy feet and the dog “accidentally” marks her territory.
I assume being an only child accounts for this odd mix of social introvertedness (and the fact I like to make up words!). But I like to think that the part of me that longs for community is the Holy Spirit working in me.
A few years ago I began a descent into a pit of my own making caused by an unhealthy obsession with dieting. I don’t mean just being mindful of what I was eating. I was going full throttle in search of an eating disorder – in fact, based on my behavior and emotional state, I am fairly positive I had found one.
I don’t know if you have ever been caught up in an action or actions that you are ashamed of. But let me tell you that my first instinct when I realized there was a problem was to hide. I tried to hide my appearance behind dark, loose clothing. I hid my binge eating behind pantry doors in dark kitchens. I found as many excuses as I could to not go out with friends, especially if they wanted to go out to eat. And I certainly never, ever spoke about what I was struggling with. The part of me that craved community slowly died until all I longed for was a safe place to hide where no one could find me.
I was ashamed. I was afraid someone would judge me for the things I was doing. A few years before I had been the object of much admiration for losing weight and getting in shape. I was horrified by what people must think of me now.
I lost my joy. I remember one day realizing that I didn`t laugh as much as I used to. And let me tell you, I am the queen of giggling. I even giggle at myself whenever I think I am particularly amusing.
Several months ago, as I began ascending out of this pit, God had me begin to share my struggle with others. I remember the huge sense of relief I had when I finally admitted it to my small group face-to-face. And it was then that I realized that for all that time I spent hiding, I had played right into the enemy’s hand.
I firmly believe Satan doesn’t want us to have community with others, especially other believers. It’s extremely hard for someone to steal your joy or redirect your focus when you are surrounded by like-minded people. Rather, when we isolate ourselves we start to listen to the lies that fill our mind, that no one else would ever allow themselves to get to this rotten point, that we are a failure, a loser, with no hope. He knows that when we hide ourselves away in the dark, we are more apt to invite him in.
But the moment I started to creep out of that dark place and share my shame, I began to feel lighter. Suddenly, the mountain I was standing in front of didn’t seem so insurmountable. In fact, the more I shared the easier it became to leave my old habits behind.
Surrounding myself with supportive community enabled me to really lay down my issues at the feet of God, to stop circling that mountain, to begin to live a life of obedience and worship to my Savior. Instead of feeling such heaviness in my heart and a desire to hide, my heart instead is full of a longing and desire to honor God with my entire life.
If you are struggling my prayer for you is to find one or two people you can be open and honest with, people who will pray for you, support you, and lift you up when you need it just like Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 & 12 illustrates:
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
How have you experienced the positive impact of community in your life?
by Andrea @ Under Grace & Over Coffee