Unexpected Gifts are the Best Part of Life

I think sometimes my youth group gets tired of hearing about my friends Allen and Chris.

I know my wife does.

As a minister, I often talk about things like confession, forgiveness, joy, sorrow, grace, and church. The way I experience the reality of those words is in community with Allen and Chris and their families. So when I talk about those things, they are my examples.

But as I teach and talk to others about these things, I often see that this experience is pretty rare. So many people do not have people in their life with whom they can connect those words to real life. So many people settle for surface level relationships. They may have friends and people they spend time with, but the depth of the relationship is lacking. This not only blows my mind, but it hurts my heart.

We live in a world where we are more connected to more people than ever. We live in a world where you can throw a rock from any given location and hit a church. We live in a world where we can see our friends every move and passing thought at the touch of a button. Yet we suffer from a lack of real community.

And I think most people are oblivious to it. It’s not a character flaw or something they have done wrong. As Allen pointed out, most people just don’t know another way. We should not be satisfied with that. Because Jesus has given us the gift of community and it is meant to be experienced deeply and richly.

I think the deepest truth that I experience with Chris and Allen is grace.

It takes a lot of grace for me to put up with them.

And it takes even more grace for them to put up with me.

But the deepest and most simple definition of grace is “gift.” My friends and their families are a gift. They are a gift because of how they teach me those truths, but they are also a gift because I just happened upon them. I just “happened” to have a grad class with a guy I knew from Mexico mission trips in college. And he just “happened” to invite me to a local youth ministry meeting. Little did I know what huge gifts those two events were.

And we believe gifts are always meant to be shared.

This blog is born out of this grace gift of community, but we hope that it will extend that grace beyond the three of us. We want to invite you into our community, but we also hope to learn about how you experience it as well.

So, how do you experience community? Have you ever felt like there was more to it than what you are experiencing?

For more about our Sacred Margins Project, click here.

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6 thoughts on “Unexpected Gifts are the Best Part of Life

  1. I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of community, yet sometimes I struggle to live like it. There are still times that I hide, afraid of being too much to my community. If I’m honest, being in community does not dispel fear, though it greatly lessens it. I know that my community is a place of safety and love, but the immature parts of me still fear, and even get a little jealous of other communities that I feel I’m not a part of but wish I were. I don’t like feeling I’m on the “outside” of anything. What can I say? I’m a work in progress. :)

    It’s a beautiful thing to be gifted with friends who love and encourage you, but I know that it doesn’t always happen that way for everyone. What would you say to those who don’t know how to form or accept or even experience real community?

    • Admittedly, sometimes we can paint a rosy picture of community. Much like marriage, the good parts are really good, but that does not mean that it does not involve a lot of difficulty, risk and work.

      I think for those of us who have community, we need to be on the look out for those who do not. When you find community (especially if it comes easily) the temptation is to be satisfied with the people you have easy community with. And then it becomes hard for other people to break in.

      For those who do not have community, I think we need to practice the golden rule. Be the community to others that you desire. This can be risky. It may be asking someone to spend more time together, or telling an acquaintance you need to go deeper. That is such a seemingly scary thing to do, but in my experience, doing that is well worth the risk.

      I have struggled (and continue to struggle) with both sides of this, but here is where I am on it all. And I would love other thoughts because this seems more difficult that I would like it to be.

  2. In the last two weeks my husband and I have been the blessees from our “community”. We have had hugs, and cards, and meals, and visits from those who love and care about us. And it has warmed our hearts. And, at least for me, humbled me. These people are all busy, active people–many of them young mothers with toddlers in tow–who brought food for our table and our souls. They took the time to make a call or a casserole–took time to do the “work”. And I have reflected on the times I’ve been “too busy” to do the “work”–which is indeed the act of loving those in our community. And I’m praying that God will help me to be the blessor of our community as opportunities arise.

    It is from our good experiences in community that we have the courage to reach out to those who don’t have community. It is risky to reach out to offer community to someone who doesn’t have it, doesn’t know how to do it, or maybe even doesn’t want it. But it is a necessary thing to do. And if it is messy…then we have the comfort of the community to return to for encouragement so that we have the guts to keep reaching out. And only God knows how many time someone has to be blessed by community to begin to comprehend community. Especially, if they have, at some point, been hurt by community. And that is when we especially need to communicate the grace of God. Our own grace (while a good thing) is not always consistent because we are human. But if we can, by our own grace, point to the One whose grace never fails, hearts will be healed.

    • Joyce,

      It is amazing how much strength can be drawn from our previous experience with selflessness and graciousness pointed our direction. I’m thankful that you and your husband have been recipients of good, godly community. Healing comes from things like this.

      Thank you for reading and commenting! I hope that you keep coming back as we grow our blog!

      Chris

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