Monday, September 12, 2016

Three months and still building community.

Tonight I was humbled by the words of one I would call a friend.

She apologized, in front of several people gathered, for being standoffish.
She specified it to myself and my boyfriend, explaining that it was a defense mechanism, due to hurts received by other short term members of the organization we are a part of.

I was so struck by the apology-
Because for all of my whining and complaining about the difficulties of finding community in new places, I see that I am guilty of the same as this brave soul- if not more.
I have held myself apart, I have let myself judge and condemn those I could have loved... I have not sought the hearts of those around me, and yet have expected total vulnerability from people who, like me and any other walking, breathing person, have been hurt by none other than people.

Love is not instantaneous. Friends for life don't appear overnight. In fact, you probably won't even like half the people you come into contact with- at least not immediately.

So what do we do?
We're all longing for those deep relationships, with people we love, and who love us back. If we've had healthy relationships, we get frustrated when people in new places don't 'click' with us exactly like the old ones did... If we haven't had healthy relationships, we try to hard or just close off completely. And if you find yourself in the middle of those things, mix up what I just said and you'll see we all struggle with relationships. Not just dating- community.

I guess we all have to face the facts.
Good, worthwhile community takes time, a lot of patience, intentionality, and a conscious decision to love the people around you. Not erotic love, but the kind of love that causes us to honor one another above ourselves. Consider your neighbor's needs befor you complain about your own not being met.

Let's try some 'new' old tricks. Add your own as per your experience & needs.
-don't ask how people are unless you're willing to take the time to really know the answer
-smile more. Plus, it actually burns more calories to smile than it does to frown. ;)
-take care of yourself. Half the time we want to turn into hermits or turtles, it's really our brains telling us we need something, like sleep. Who knew?
-know yourself. Who you are, what your needs are. How do you rest? What do you do for fun? When you know who you are and are taking care of yourself, it's easier to go into a conversation or relationship thinking about the other person's needs rather than your own.
-be intentional with the people around you. Actually ask them what their favorite color is, and remember it. Learn how to pronounce their name.... Maybe even go do something fun with them. And let them choose- maybe you'll get to try something new!

There's tons more we can do to build community.
For me, it boils down to this: love God, love people.
An old mantra I was taught at school, but it works.

If you're loving God, your perspective will be right, and you'll know who you are. Loving people comes naturally after that. ;)

And don't forget to be real- laugh and cry and share the hard stuff. If you're rooted in God, it's not quite as scary, cause you'll know He's got you. Then you can be really vulnerable, just like my friend.

Then maybe you can blog about it. Or sleep, like I'm about to do. That really helps stuff marinate in the brain. (Crazy talk signifies it is way past Megan's bedtime. Adios y'all.)

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Sick Days = Rest Days

This past week I was pretty sick.
Like stomach virus blech.
Need I say more?

Anyway, by the end of it, I found myself glad for the days off, thankful for the time of rest.
And why not? Rest is from God, even if it is rest my body practically forced on me ;)

But seriously, I couldn't help but marvel at how good God is.
For some reason I found myself thankful for all manner of things that, well, usually I complain about.
I thought about how I used to hate lightning storms, and how the Lord has shown me to have wisdom in the storm (physical, spiritual, whatever respect you take it), and yet to see the beauty in it. Where as a child I used to cower in the heaviness and finality of the thunder, now as a lover of art and beauty and music, I see the dance of the lightning in the sky, and I hear the rhythm of the thunder. Somewhere the storm resonates with my soul, and what was frightful has become a thing to be amazed at. Indeed, it lulls me to sleep!

Then I thought about all the times (even recently) I have complained to God about being sick so much, and "missing out," and laughed to realize that my tired self was thrilled (though slightly delirious from nausea) to have a few days to just be oblivious to the world. I didn't have to worry that it would stop moving or that I would miss out. In fact, I just trusted the Laws my Jesus put in place, that they would keep the earth spinning. And I recognized the peace in resting to be greater than the 'benefit' of participating.

Then my mind went to deeper, darker parts of my life- times when I have been betrayed or hurt, times when through my own actions or those of others, my being was compromised. And I remembered days gone by when I had thought there could never be any good that would come from these hurts and pains. But the Lord reminded me how He had brought me closer to Himself, how He had shown me beauty, and how He had given me freedom. He reminded me of the joy He brought out of the darkness, and the life that came when painful parts of my life were buried in Him and His word. This life is still coming, even though not all the pain is gone. In fact, He caused me to see with new eyes. I see now even those events with a thankfulness and a joy. And out of this burst a flower, and He and I called it love.

And of the sudden, I cannot hate even the "painful" memories of past- for through them I have learned to love the storms, and the "forced" times of rest (though the sickness and pain are still trying,  of course!)... I have even come to love those who have hurt me. In my heart, and now in prayer and in public, I hope and pray the best for them. I believe that the Lord wants life for them as He gave to me.

Call me crazy. Maybe I am.
But I'm finding new meaning in that call- the one that said "rejoice in the Lord always, again I'll say Rejoice!"
I thinking I'm seeing fingerprints of Someone in all these situations-
I'll call Him "Restorer."