Monday, November 21, 2011
Today's blog post is taken from the weekly fast.pray blog, where singles and those who care for them fast and pray at lunchtime on Mondays for singles desiring marriage. To join this prayer group, click here. Today one of the founders, Connally, is writing about Paul's example of living with a community setting.
When I first moved to DC, my head spun at how quickly people moved in and then away. I'd make a friend, and s/he'd move--to another part of the city, to another church, to another town all together. I quickly realized why people who had been here a few years often operated with their guard up--it's hard to stay open to new attachments when bonds keep getting broken. And yet, I've always known I long for & thrive in community.
Community, though, is neither simply my longing nor the ache of our generation (though a report from Duke University on "Friendship in America" said that 25% of Americans have ZERO close friends with whom they can talk personally). It is an idea woven throughout the Scriptures. It shows up in the Trinity, and it's in Genesis as God's provision for loneliness But I want to look briefly at the Apostle Paul, a guy I always thought was like an independent John Wayne in a toga. As it turns out, he's not.
1) Have you ever looked closely in Acts at the first thing Paul did after he believed? He is led by another (Acts 9:8). This powerful man found himself vulnerable and needy. I have a couple of older mentors whose active leading I've sought, but I'm also learning to invite the friends around me who know more than I do (be it about cooking, working with kids with disabilities, running a meeting, relating to men, connecting with God, doing conflict resolution, etc.) to teach me. Something about allowing ourselves to need and receive from others actually embeds us more deeply into community. You might ask yourself, "Who in my current community am I allowing to lead me?"
2) The next thing Paul did? He experienced healing in the context of relationship (with Ananias in Acts 9:17ff). It's no shame to be broken, wounded, or even to have recurring sin issues. But they way forward is with others. I've repeatedly asked my housemates & other friends to pray with me about my aches, my weaknesses & my loneliness, even as I've confessed sin and asked for forgiveness. And it is so freeing. As well, when needed, I've sought professional counseling and spiritual direction. Nobody gets through life unscathed or sinless, and finding others with whom we can give/receive the gift of healing i s worth the work. Who are your truly 'safe' people? If you could use a few more, ask God to open doors for friends or 'for such a time as this' outsiders. Healing is crucial for (and a deep joy of) community.
3) And after that? Paul simply spent time being with these new friends (Acts 9:19). Since I was a child, I have believed that I am meant for marriage.
To read the rest of the blog, click here.