March 4, 2019


Photo by Kelsey Chance on Unsplash

You know those lists that tell you about all the things that Christ followers should do? Or the things that you need for a healthy relationship with Jesus? 

I'm pretty sure community is one of the things near the top of most of those lists--and yet it was honestly close to the bottom of mine for a long time.

But as I've gotten older, I've realized that I crave connection and friendships (it's a middle child thing!). In fact, most of my loneliness and bitterness in singleness stemmed from not having community and deep friendships with other Christians. And even when I was in a dating relationship, I still felt a serious lack of friendships because the guys I was dating were not (and could not) fill my need for community with others--which is why I now know that community is something I need no matter my life stage and relationship status (and something that I know will help me when I do date again, too).

I decided to start praying about finding community after I felt God put it on my heart about a year ago. It took me awhile to take the first step, though, because the idea of joining a community group as a single person scared me. Going to someone's house by myself to share my life/heart with a bunch of strangers? Well, that's pretty much a nightmare for this girl over here.

But joining one in singleness has been the biggest blessing in disguise.

Typically, I like to hide in the shadows (and I know that's what my default can be when I'm overshadowed by others), but in the presence of a consistent group of people, I knew that wouldn't be possible, especially without a husband to hide behind. Opening up and being vulnerable in face-to-face conversations isn't an easy feat for me, but I knew that it was something I needed and ultimately desired.

So this past fall, I decided to jump into a community group at church when they re-launched with the new school year. The first group I joined was mostly young families who were open, honest, and welcoming, but I felt left out because I was the odd one out--the only one without kids and a spouse. It was great to meet new people, but at the same time really challenging for me to connect with them because they were all already connected based on their common life stage that I wasn't a part of.

The second group I tried was filled with people of all ages and stages. People with grown children. People with young children. People expecting children. And people without kids as well. And to be honest, it felt like a second family from the get-go. I felt welcomed. I felt loved. And I felt like I could become friends with everyone there. 

It's taken me a few months to open up and I still continue to struggle with it, but this group has been the best change for me this year. It's what I look forward to all week and it's opened my heart and voice as well. The picture of 12-15 of us cozied up at a dining table each week sharing food, life, and our challenges and victories makes my heart swell. As we went around the table one evening, my heart started beating faster as my turn approached, but right after I shared, I felt an instant sigh of relief and warm hug of comfort, knowing that people not only wanted to hear my voice, but understood and also felt encouraged to know they weren't the only ones feeling that way, too.

That night opened up the floodgates to so many things--lunch dates and hiking dates. New contacts to add to my phone to text and celebrate life with. More people to pray for and to also pray for me. And feeling filled up and enriched by the encouragement and truths spoken with love with people who I know accept and love me for who I am. And it's given me more love for others, too.

I feel known and loved, and that, my friend, is the greatest feeling of all. 

Community is a funny thing. It's something that we all need--as one friend told me, "it's why God created Adam and Eve, not just Adam!"--and we also thrive off of. It's not easy and it takes work and an honest investment, plus a lot of vulnerability. But it's always worth it. So if there's anything I have to say, it's that it's okay to be known. It's okay to put yourself out there. And it's okay to speak what's on your heart.

Especially because quite often, dear friendships blossom from it as a result.

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© IN ITS TIMEMaira Gall