Community as Freedom

Community as Freedom

You’re reading a post in the Hearts Undaunted series. In this series, we explore how to live free from overwhelming fear, anxiety, discouragement, insecurity, and worthlessness. Please click here to read other posts in this series.

A heartfelt smile.

A kind word.

Chicken soup brought to settle a queasy tummy.

Childcare to relieve a tired mama.

A “gives you goosebumps” Bible study.

All of these are community.

But.

Right now, for me, community equals friendship.

Soul-sister, see me, read me, “free me to be me” friendship.

Years ago, I sat lonely, crumpled on my living room floor, consumed with shame, guilt, anxiety, and insecurity over the fact that I did not know my physical neighbors.

And I wondered, “Is it really that important to know them? Is it that bad if I don’t have many friends? Is it worth it to make some?”

For awhile, I rationalized that I was OK. After graduating college, starting a new job, getting married, having a baby, moving, and getting pregnant again…I thought, “Maybe my little family is enough. Maybe I don’t need someone to really see me way deep down.”

But His law, His ways, are written in our hearts. He gave us His body to show us how much He loves us.

So, I knew. I knew alone is not OK.

I prayed. For a “know me deep down friend”, a friend who sees me and loves me anyway. I prayed.

Slowly, and over time, He answered. Blessed me above and beyond.

And continues to.

That is why, in the midst of a writing conference, my “take away” is community.

My take away is Tobi.

Photo Credit

Months before Allume, as the Lord carried me along a tumultous journey, I held a particular Scripture verse in my heart:

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

–Psalm 37:4

I kept the verse tucked away, for me alone.

One day, in the comments of my blog, Tobi observed: “It looks like you are delighting in the Lord, and He’s giving you the desires of your heart.”

And, with that, He began to weave our hearts together.

Through emails, Facebook, and one amazingly hilarious phone call (in which we agreed not to hang up believing the other is crazy), we grew a friendship and a plan to share Allume together.

From airport pick up to drop off, the Lord gifted me with an incredible weekend of blessing in Tobi.

Do you know what it’s like to have someone insist that you speak freely to her: no qualifications, disclaimers, or second-guessing?

That you tell her your story: your joys, your brokenness, your fears?

That you accept her undivided attention?

That you giggle and cry with abandon until 3:00 in the morning?

That you pray together?

And just this one more (of the many wonderful) thing(s): I am a Catholic. In the middle of a blogosphere of predominantly non-Catholic Christians. Attending a predominantly non-Catholic conference.

And He gave me a roommate and friend who has fond memories of her time in a Catholic school. So, she gets me. In a very unique way, she gets me.

I got to experience Allume far from alone. In community. Known and loved.

And it was pure gift. Undeserved grace.

I am so grateful.

Thank you, Tobi. I love you!

Heart Verse:

“A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter;
he who finds one finds a treasure.

A faithful friend is beyond price,
no sum can balance his worth.

A faithful friend is a life-saving remedy,
such as he who fears God finds…”

–Sirach 6:14-16

Heart Questions:

  1. What does community mean to you?
  2. Have you been hurt in community? If so, what steps can you take to seek healing?
  3. Who are some heart friends for you? Who are the ones who know you deeply, support you, encourage you, and love you unconditionally?

Heart Challenge:

Spend time in prayer asking God to show you friendships that you can invest in. Or ask Him to bring into your life the right person to love you unconditionally.

Heart Notes:

You Will Never Walk Alone, by Point of Grace

Along life’s road
There will be sunshine and rain
Roses and thorns, laughter and pain
And ‘cross the miles
You will face mountains so steep
Deserts so long and valleys so deep
Sometimes the Journey’s gentle
Sometimes the cold winds blow
But I want you to remember
I want you to know

[Chorus]
You will never walk alone
As long as you have faith
Jesus will be right beside you all the way
You may feel you’re far from home
But home is where He is
And He’ll be there down every road
You will never walk alone

The path will wind
And you will find wonders and fears
Labors of love and a few falling tears
Across the years
There will be some twists and turns
Mistakes to make and lessons to learn
Sometimes the journey’s gentle
Sometimes the cold winds blow
But I want you to remember where ever you may go

[Repeat Chorus]

Jesus knows your joy, Jesus knows your need
He will go the distance with you faithfully

[Repeat Chorus]

Lyrics Credit

Heart Prayer:

Heavenly Father, I praise You that You created us in Your image. I praise You that You created us to be relational as You are: to pour love into others and be filled by their love. Grant now that each woman reading is convicted of those relationships you would have her invest in. If she is craving a deep friendship that reveals Your love, bring that person into her life. If she has been wounded and broken by community, bind up her wounds. Wrap her in your grace, and cover her in Your love. I ask this in the name of Your precious Son. Amen.

* * *

And you? How is your heart? Have you been hurt by community? Blessed by community? Who is dear to you?

***

Linking with the wonderful women here:

Jo Ann Fore

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Comments

  1. Oh, what an incredibly lovely post- I love how God draws hearts together in unexpected ways. And I love how He answers our prayers and the desperate cries of our hearts. I have grown to love Psalm 37:4- oh the blessing to be had when we delight in Him, right?!!!
    Cannot believe you girls stayed up until 3!!! That would not have been possible for me. Again, God knows what we need, doesn’t He?!!
    Becky Daye recently posted..Five Minute Friday~ RootsMy Profile

    • Thank you, Becky! Oh, the blessings. I count you among mine! We only stayed up until 3 one night. And we went to bed before 11 on one night, lol!

  2. Recently I have found my community at our new church. I feel a sense of love and acceptance and unity as we forge ahead in learning our faith. I have never felt this before and it is so scary and so awesome all at the same time.

    • Jenn, I am so happy that you have found this love in your new church! That is something that everyone should have. It is scary to be vulnerable, especially if it comes after bad experiences. Way to go on your courage and vulnerability! I pray the Lord continues to give you the grace to grow your relationships.

  3. Mandy, this was beautiful and so much what I’ve been experiencing over the last year and a half. You know what? Tobi is one of my take aways, too. That’s not completely accurate. I’m blessed to live near her and we have been meeting for lunch and plan to continue about once a month. It was so nice to meet you in and have that real life experience to take home in my heart.
    Amy Tilson recently posted..These Roots Run DeepMy Profile

  4. I LOVE your Allume account! The community we share has been life-saving for me. I don’t mean to sound dramatic, but being welcomed and loved through difficult times helped keep my head above water.
    Thank you YOU are a part of my community, I enjoyed breakfast together at Allume. Thank you for sharing your morning with me:)
    Stefanie Brown (@stefanieybrown) recently posted..30 Days of Thanksgiving :: Day 3…My Profile

    • Thank you, Stefanie! It doesn’t sound dramatic at all. I agree with you:) In this online (and then in person through Allume) Christian blogging community, I have found love, support, compassion and encouragement on a level that is rare even in “in person” relationships. You have done the same for me. It was a pleasure to share breakfast with you! I fully understand the time constraints at a conference, with so many wonderful women to meet. Thank you for gifting me with your time and YOU:)

  5. great post mandy! i agree, we are definitely made for relationship…not being alone. glad GOD has brought someone into your life for a close friendship. i’ve found that having one close friend often helps me have the courage to make others too:) blessings mandy. it was fun to meet you at allume. i’m always a bit frustrated that times for long visits are few there. maybe i just don’t have the right skills.
    martha brady recently posted..ALLUME PLUS SANDY…My Profile

    • Thank you, Martha! It was a pleasure to meet you:) Yes, there were women I would have loved more time with. It’s not your skills, just not enough time to fit it all in! I’m so glad we have the wonders of technology to continue the relationships. Blessings, Martha!

  6. How blessed and wonderful. ((hugs)) I’m so glad you have that. I’m glad she was that connection for you at Allume. You both are beautiful wonderful women.
    Stacey recently posted..October’s Truth Wraps OwnerMy Profile

    • Thanks so much, Stacey. It was true grace. My introverted, community-shy self can claim no credit. And you are beautiful and wonderful as well;)

  7. Loved reading these posts. :) Isn’t our God amazing?! I wish I could hug you both.
    Beautiful are His ways.
    Heather Windeler recently posted..Food, Glorious Food! Sing with me. ;) My Profile

  8. I remember this beautiful post and was so shocked (or maybe not) to see I never commented! ack! glad you linked it up over at (in)courage so I could fix that;)

    {HUGS} so thankful God pulled you into my life in a way only He could, friend. Even if we don’t meet at Allume this year, I’m certain God will make a way for me to hug you proper;)
    Nikki recently posted..Soul Nourishment {And How God Wraps Us In Community}My Profile

    • You are so incredibly gracious! I love seeing your name, face, and beautiful words here, but it is never an expectation or obligation:) I try to trust that the Spirit will lead people to comment as He desires. This online (which I trust to progress even further into “in person” ;) community…you..it really surpasses my understanding and ability to articulate. Loved, blessed, grateful.
      Mandy recently posted..Silly DoggieMy Profile

  9. This is beautiful, Mandy! I can totally relate to saying to myself that I don’t need community. I’m feeling that now. :-) I know it’s not true, but sometimes it feels easier. And and I love that God was faithful – again! He always is!
    Brenda @TripleBraided recently posted..A Little Community of Mosaics {and the (in)RL Conference}My Profile

  10. Community is such a blessing. Something in me withers when I lack it. As a military wife, my life has been seasons of adding and losing community via the blessed military PCS orders. Yet at the end of the day, community reaches through the miles, especially online. Thanks for posting. I found your post through Incouarge link up.

  11. Thank you for sharing, Mandy!

  12. Thanks for sharing your Voice!

  13. Oh Mandy, this is almost as beautiful as you! Love this. Such a beautiful depiction of God’s design for community. Thank you for sharing.
    Jo Ann Fore recently posted..Safety to blanket the tender placesMy Profile

  14. Thank you for your encouraging post, and your voice in speaking for community to women! Bless you.

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  1. [...] sweet soul connection initiated by our God, and forged through late-into-the-night girl talk at Allume, prompted us to leave a weekend spent [...]

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