Hope in Community

hopeincommunity Sometimes it all just feels like too much.

I look around at all of the disagreement and polarization and talking without listening to each other. It's like the Tower of Babel must have been: chaos.

I'm guilty of this too. I have run from conflict, more often than not, I've capitulated, said things for effect, or metaphorically plugged my ears, waiting for my turn to talk. I've left relationships, conversations and places of business because I've wanted to be right. I've wanted to surround myself with people who think the way I do so that I never have to be uncomfortable.

Little by little, God has drawn me out of those patterns. He's put me in situations, groups, conversations. He's pointed out books and blogs and people. I don't agree with everything said in these settings, but that isn't the point.

The point is not for me to be right. That's God's job, wrapped in mystery.

The point is for me to listen, to engage, to love, to speak my opinion, even when it's unpopular.

All of this sharpening and challenging is good, I know, and I'm pursuing it in my life. But recently, I'm realizing how thankful I am for the people (a precious, wonderful few) who pour out hope into my glass like wine, clinking their own glass with mine and drinking deeply.

I've been intentional with these people, sharing who I really am. They have shared themselves with me, too. I don't worry that someday they are going to find out the truth about me and gasp in horror. They know the truth, they are still here.

As we drink up our hope, we can dream together. We can dream without censoring our language, without monitoring how we're coming across. In settings like this, I know that I am loved, that I am safe, that I can be frank.

Some of these connections have been very unexpected. I've spent a good portion of this year praying to find my tribe. I've found them, among the interwebs, the stained glass-windows and at the head of a classroom. I am still finding them.

I've written a bit about about my dark time this summer. As I walked through that, I began to see the gaps between what I thought community should be and what I had. I'd been faking community. From the outside, it was hard to tell the difference.

Life never seems to cease to throw me curveballs, some subtle, others not. Instead of standing near home plate, praying I can knock it out of the park, I've been calling up my team, asking them to help me get the ball where it needs to go.

Recently, several circumstances conspired to make me feel like I was drowning. I reached out, within moments, my people were on it. It was then that I realized how distinct these gifts are. The people in my life offered practical assistance, emotional support, prayer, perfectly suited words of encouragement. I could feel them pouring out glasses of hope for me, and raising their own.

Life mystifies me sometimes because it does not stop. No matter what I do, or what is shaking the planet, it never pauses. My world can be crashing around me, my heart can be lighter than air. It continues. I'm making peace with this, but I'm not doing it alone.

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