For over 5 years, I lived without belonging to a church. In college, I had been hurt by the church I grew up in, and for 5 years I wasn’t brave enough to seek out community again. Fear bound me, keeping me rooted in the pain and loss of community, and I struggled to overcome it.
Keeping to myself seemed easier. There was less risk, and my faith didn’t seem to be suffering. I clung to Jesus, but stayed away from a community that did the same. And while I did attend a church service here and there, I sat quietly in the pews, rushed out at the end, and made sure I didn’t show the vulnerable, still-bleeding parts of me that secretly longed for community.
I journeyed alone, for the most part. My faith was inward-focused, growing slowly but one-dimensionally. I was learning, but I wasn’t being challenged or held accountable by those who truly knew me.
Growing my faith — while keeping to myself — was like trying to grow a garden in the desert sand.
About a year and a half ago, I finally began to seek out a faith community again, tired of fighting alone against the world. I finally admitted to God that I needed a real-life faith community, a realization that came from finding a faith community online. And so, one Sunday morning in April, I sat down in the comfy chair in a church I had been to a few times before, scared anyone would approach me while desperately wanting to belong.
The lights dimmed and the music started, and a few minutes in, I knew that was where I belonged.
My journey towards community was long and winding, with unnecessary delays and detours, and many bouts of stubbornness along the way. And the reality is that community looks different for everyone. When I lived in Africa, I found an online faith community that encouraged me and inspired me in many ways. After 5 years of avoiding churches like the plague, they led me, upon my return to the United States, to join a church whose tagline is “we journey together.”
That online community built me up and encouraged me when I would’ve otherwise been completely alone. The ladies gave me healing and strength, encouraging me to be brave when all I wanted to do was shrink back. They gave me a church when I wasn’t able to find one myself, and reminded me that community wasn’t created to hurt, but rather to bring joy. And now, while I do attend a physical church, these ladies are my online church, friends who know me. We journey together.
Whether your community is online, in your home, at work, or in a church, we all need to journey together. When we have a strong faith community, our faith moves in unexpected ways. It reverberates off of those around us, stretching and growing, turning a one-dimensional faith into something multi-dimensional.
Faith is moving forward, and moving forward in community is a beautiful thing.
I had no idea what God would do when I finally committed to joining church again last year. But I knew I was tired to journeying alone.
Because we are made to journey together.
Related: Extend a welcome to all who enter your home by displaying this fun pillow that says We are always better together.Leave a Comment