Biblical Community: What To Do When You Don’t Have It
Years ago when we experienced a miscarriage I remember walking out of the doctor’s office on Easter Sunday with such shame and embarrassment. It was unmerited - I hadn’t done anything wrong, and nothing could have prevented what we were now walking through. But there was such a raw and real vulnerability in which I felt so exposed - excitement and anticipation diminished with the simple yet hollow words, “I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat.” It was like a punch in the gut, exposing every bit of me in the most vulnerable of ways.
Having just celebrated the resurrected king, eternal life with Him forever and ever, we were also simultaneously grieving the loss of our precious precious unborn baby. In those two conflicting emotional extremes, I returned home to my husband and 2 year old at the time, and while there was immense sadness there was also a specific verse that kept coming to mind. Maybe you’re familiar with it?
“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.” Psalm 63:1-4
On this desperately sad yet eternally hopeful day, His word declared forth His love and it’s overwhelming power. His love, better than life here on earth itself - better than any life entrusted to us, better than anything we might have in the here and now - His love is just so much greater! And for that, I could sing praises. His words and His love got me through the sadness, walked me through the shame, and gave me the rock on which to stand.
Fast forward 5 years later and I was rocking my now third-born in a new and unfamiliar town. In the dead of winter. A winter like we had not ever experienced growing up. I remember deeply longing for friendships and community like we had back in our hometown. It was so hard to break through the cultural differences in our new city. We had our dear church family but were not in close enough proximity to do the everyday together. We had just begun our homeschool journey, which can be isolating enough in and of itself. It was a season in which I desperately desired to plop on the couch with dear friends on a whim and enjoy a cup of coffee. But it didn’t come. In fact, it kept not coming. I think I asked my husband to meet up for lunch a record breaking number of times within a year, and we for sure got to know the local Chick Fil A as if they were family. It was quite honestly, a really lonely season. About a year after we moved a dearest friend gifted me with a beautiful hand-scripted framed print. As I opened it and began to read the words my eyes filled with tears.
Because your steadfast love
is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
I wept. I needed to be reminded. And the Lord…won’t He do it? His love is better than any plans I could conjure up for myself. His love far surpasses any playdate, any inclusion to a homeschool group, and all the last minute trips to the zoo with friends. I could live my entire life without that desperately longed for “tribe” and still be just fine. Because His love is greater than all of it.
It was during this season, the one in which I lacked biblical community, that God actually taught me so much about himself and what to do anyways. I want to share some of those lessons learned with you.
What do you do when the community you so desire, and the community scripture so often encourages, just doesn’t come?
You lean in to Him. You go deeper with the Lord. The lack of community never changes the God who created community in and of Himself. He is a constant friend, His spirit a constant companion. The depths of His love, His grace, and His mystery are never ceasing. And He always shows up. You don’t stop pursuing people. Just because community isn’t returned, isn’t as prioritized, or maybe just isn’t as feasible for those around you, doesn’t change the biblical principal and your ability to pursue it. Pour out that which has been filled in your own life. But make sure you are being filled from the well which never runs dry. Cultivate and create. Sometimes it is hard to accept that finding deep, crazy connected, large tribe community doesn’t come often - and that’s ok. Your college besties, newlywed small group, and young parents bible study may have seen the glory days, and yay for that!! However, that may not be for the season you are in.
Take a look at the who God has given you. Maybe it’s not what you envisioned, or (sigh) who you prefer… but God has purposed each and every day and place: community the heck of out it.