Dear Women, This Is Community
There’s a little watering hole on the way towards my sister’s old place. As soon as I take the exit off the highway, I know I have ten miles of curvy, country back roads lined with canopies of evergreens before I reach it. It’s off to the left, and along its banks is a grove of trees. They’re all clustered together drinking up the water. The southerly wind blows and they lean together. The sun shines and a kaleidoscope of colors burst through their branches. I’ve seen them in a rain shower; they stand together—deeply rooted. I’m sure that if one were to take a shovel to that Oklahoma red clay and start digging that their roots would be all sorts of woven together. And I’m just mesmerized by the scene every time I take that country road. That grove of trees draws me in.
I feel we as women are like that grove. When we find community we find roots; we find the invested life. We all know we were created for community with God and one another (Matt 22:37-40). But can we pull our chairs in close and get real for a moment? While we want community, finding it is hard. And finding a nurturing community is even harder. Some of us might even be scrolling through Instagram right now asking, ‘where’s #mytribe at, God?’
I think this is a genuine question, and one I’ve cried out to God in the midst of many seasons in my own life.
But I think this question—where’s my community, God?—begs an altogether different question.
What is community really? Is it more than having a group of girlfriends around your age that you go shopping with, have over for dinner occasionally, or reunite for a girl’s getaway every year? And beyond that, what does healthy community look like, and how do we find it?
I think while all the above can be a part of the blessings that flow from community, God’s idea of community is something much deeper and wider and altogether more than we could ever create ourselves. God’s design for true community is a faithful few walking in the same direction sharing life and sharpening one another in Christ and for His glory. Community finds its beginning and growing and multiplying in the body of Christ (Acts 2:41-47).
So how do we as biblical women find true community? It starts with taking a risk, extending the invitation, and welcoming the interruptions.
Take the Risk
First, finding community means making the decision to plunge into the invested life of faithfully walking with God ourselves. If we are women who want community, we must plant ourselves and commit to our local church. It is there that God designed true community to begin, grow, and multiply. You won’t be disappointed (Eph. 3:20).
As a former Women’s Minister, I know as I write this there are many women who have been wounded by other sisters. If you’re reading this and have been wounded by another sister in Christ, I want in the same breath to acknowledge your pain, ask God to continue to shine His mercy and healing on you, and with an arm linked in yours, gently ask you to take the risk again towards letting a wise and mature sister in Christ into your life. Our God cares for you (I Peter 5:7).
Because, sisters, can we just in this space together come to terms with the fact that the majority of women want—no, crave-community? We all want to hear the words, “I struggle with that too!” Yes, community requires us to risk rejection and ridicule. It requires us to be vulnerable (I said it!) and share what God has redeemed us from and what he is walking us through now.
But it also requires us to recognize the lies of the Evil One. You know the ones—the lies that keep us from taking the risk and walking in power and victory because of perceived silent judgement from other women and self-condemnation. Listen, if you need someone to release you or give you permission, let this be the day you take off your mask and let people into your life. In Christ, there is no condemnation (Rom. 8:1), and as sisters in Christ we have no rivals (Gal 3:26-28). We are free to share life and grow in Christ together!
Extend the Invitation
God saw fit to let me see a long prayed over kept-close-to-my-heart dream brought into fruition a couple of years ago. I extended an invitation to nine young women in my church and ten older women. The night was brought together by the gifts of so many women. Annie brought the eucalyptus and vases. Terri brought the BBQ with all the comfort food sides. Dana let us use her backyard that had, of course, a watering hole. It happened over sweet tea in mason jars and under a summer blue sky. We sat around a long table with women of all ages—college girls and widows and young mamas and single women and empty nesters. Sky brought us a word from God’s word. That famous Oklahoma wind showed up. And as we cut the pie and passed the pitchers as deep, vulnerable, authentic, transparent conversation flowed. And with it little shoots and roots of community grew.
It was beautiful and life-giving.
It was the start of true community.
It was the start of a new grove.
As you read, I’m asking God to show you who to extend an invitation to. Whether it’s over coffee or day-old bread, reach out to another sister this week. While you won’t connect with everyone—and that’s okay—don’t let your past or present encounters keep you from extending the invitation.
Welcome the Interruptions
Nourishing a new community takes time, prayer, and welcoming the “interruptions” that come from caring for one another. Did you know that Scripture contains fifty-nine verses that beckon those in community to care for one another? Here’s just a few:
- Love one another (John 15:12-13; Rom. 12:9-21)
- Be patient with one another (Eph. 4:2)
- Forgive one another (Eph. 4:32)
- Care for one another (I Cor. 2:25-27; Phil. 2:3-16).
- Build each other up (I Thess. 5:11)
- Welcome one another (Rom. 15:7; I Pet. 4:9)
- Spur one another towards love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24).
- Teach one another (Col 3:16; Titus 2:3-5)
Over the course of a year, I saw that long table of women grow into “oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified” (Isiah 61:3). We celebrated births together. They walked with me through the death and grief of losing my mom and then losing my best friend. We were vulnerable and shared deep hurts and struggles with sins. We welcomed in a few other women new to the faith and older in the faith. Our prayers lives strengthened. We sharpened one another’s faith and enjoyed the abundant life with no condemnation and no rivalry. There were wounds, and we forgave and grew from them with the Lord’s help. And as the Lord led me away from that grove, I look back with a full heart as I ask God for a few more faithful ones to share life and sharpen one another in Him and for His glory.
Are you looking for community? Remember you are not alone. Take the risk. Extend the invitation. And by all means welcome the interruptions that will sharpen your spirit to God’s plan for your life and sweeten it all the more.