An Unexpected Gift

Community.

So costly; yet it is so rewarding that once you’ve really experienced and understood what it can be like, you wouldn’t want to live without it ever again.

Last year, I was looking for a new place to live, and one of the preferences I had was to have my own room. Having my own room, I could easily isolate myself instead of having to be with and deal with people once I came home from work. I could close the door and be alone – for hours if I wanted to.

As an introvert, I love people, but also crave a lot of alone time. Being with people all the time has often left me feeling somewhat drained. Therefore, I concluded, having my own room would be ideal. For me at least, life seems so much easier without people right in my face.

Thankfully, God had a better plan for me. I was to share a room with someone else.
Then, surprise (!), two became three..

The way things turned out, I couldn’t run away from community and into My Room. I couldn’t just do community when I felt like it, for instance every Tuesday night with my Home Group, or in school, or when I had a really good or really bad day and chose to involve someone else in it. There was no comfort zone to hide within.

Instead, I had to change my plan of delightful solitude and I went head first with God’s plan instead.
I’ve had lots of breakthroughs with people and relationships in general the last few years, but this past year was the best one yet. God had more to teach me about community, but for me to be able to receive all that He had for me, I had to be there!

God wanted me to be a part of a community, not just show up when I was up for it, felt really good about it, or was desperate for it. He wanted me to know and be a part of community which was there, in my face, whether I wanted it there or not.

I learned to embrace community and not fear it and – I even started hanging out in the living room for no particular reason! (This was a shock for me)
I learned that community feels good. It is not just some grand idea or something I have to do, but it is something that exists and works and it is a gift from God.

Sure, community is more than sharing a bedroom with someone. I’ve had strong community with people I shared house with, or who I’d occasionally meet with in homes, in a coffee shop or on some trip!

Still, this past experience was like turning up the pressure – a lot more!
I thank God that He turned events in such a surprising way for me and had me learn to live with people even more.

And then, as I had just officially gotten hooked on living with people and doing deep community (it took me a while to get hooked), it was time to move on (literally).

I am now in a season where I live alone – I have lots of space. And no, I don’t hate it at all – I actually love it for what it is! But I have not forgotten and will not forget how much community shaped me in my past season and how it still does. I enjoy this season for what it is but also welcome a season of more “crowdedness” 🙂

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Cake For Everybody! Part 2

Part of being in community with people is seeing how others you know are being celebrated, favored, and straight out blessed. Right in front of you.

Time for a moment of truth:

I haven’t always found it easy to instantly go into celebration mode whenever someone else have had their socks blessed off.

Even when I know I should be leaping with joy, do cartwheels around the block, and shout until my voice is gone, it doesn’t mean I feel like doing so.

Something in me reasons that when someone else are celebrated, favored and blessed, there’s less left for me. There’s not enough to go around. Someone else received what I also needed and wanted, and therefore, I can’t have it, or as much of it as I desired. A spirit of poverty, rejection and comparison takes root in my heart (if I let it).

The truth is, there is enough to go around; more than enough.

There’s cake for everybody!

Instead of feeling that I miss out on anything, I am reminded that because I choose to go and celebrate someone else, I also get a reward (the party and what it has to offer).

The celebration of someone else is also a testimony that good things do indeed happen. I’ll wait a bit longer, and those good things will surely come my way.

 

 

Cake For Everybody!

There’s cake for everybody, did you know that?

When you go to a birthday party, there is one particular person being celebrated that day. He or she will probably receive some gifts.

They will get the most attention. They are the ones whose lives are celebrated that day. 

But you get to be at a party. There will be fun, games, cake and other treats. All because you chose to go and celebrate your friend! 

Celebrating others always gives a reward, even when it’s not literally raining cake over you. 

As you attend the parties of friends, it will also remind you that your time to be celebrated will come. It’s like a Law. Everyone has a birthday, and yours will come up, even if it is 359 days from now. 

Everyone will get celebrated in due time. And in the meantime..

..there’s cake. Yum. 

Trust

Trust is essential in every area of our lives. Without it, not only will it affect your relationships with people negatively, but also your relationship with God. In addition to this, if there’s no trust, you’ll find it hard to even trust yourself..

There are also levels of trust. For instance, you may believe in God and trust Him to save you.  That doesn’t mean you’ll automatically feel safe to trust Him in every little detail of your life!

Some years ago, I realized just how big my trust issues were. And they were three-fold:

Even though I knew for sure that God existed, I found it hard to trust Him. I mean, I wasn’t sure what He felt about me, and if He really cared for me in every area of my life.

“Would I be OK, or would my life just be a waste?”

How can you trust someone, when you don’t know their heart?

What if you have had bad experiences with people in authority, as for instance parents, teachers or church leaders? When that’s what you know about being led by authority, imagine being led by God, and you’re not sure how He will take care of you, or if He’ll even care at all.

I also realized that I had trouble trusting myself. Hopefully you won’t know what I’m talking about, but some of you do. What if you don’t think you have what it takes? What if you make a bad decision? What if you’ll make a fool out of yourself? Better keep away from responsibility and growth experiences then. Somewhere I bought into the lie that I couldn’t trust myself!

The truth is that even before I believed in myself, God believed in me. God isn’t afraid we’ll mess up, or look funny. Actually, He believes in us despite the fact that He knows we will mess up. God has entrusted me with gifts and talents, with family and friends. A school. A work place. A city. A planet. When God trusts you, who are you to argue? Want to get wrecked? Ask God how much He trusts you..

Now, I trust myself, knowing that I have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor. 2:16) I might mess up, but that’s OK, because I now know I can trust God to be good to me. I know that no matter what, He’ll love me unconditionally.

Trusting others is something I’m still working on. Trusting others sometimes means being really vulnerable, because you never really know what will happen before you do.

“Will they hurt me? Will they love me unconditionally? Will I be OK?”

I remember some years ago when I first realized how big of an issue this was in my life. I felt like God was telling me to trust more people (not everybody!), and open up more than I had in the past. I would say to Him:

“But what if I get hurt?!?”

I was so afraid of that. Of being rejected. Being discouraged. Wounded.

And then He said:

“I can’t and will not promise you that you won’t get hurt, but I promise you that I will always be there, and you’ll be OK.”

That did it for me.

I started opening up to more people, and yes, I did get hurt, sometimes deeply hurt. But then I also got so much more than that! Upon experiencing something I would say was about the most painful experience of my life, God reminded me of what He had said months earlier, and I realized He was right. He was definitely there, and I knew I would be OK, even though I felt like my heart was screaming and crying its eyes out. I realized again how much I could trust God. And I realized how powerful I was as well.

Even in this situation I was powerful! I had choices to make. How would I deal with the pain? How would I deal with those involved? With God? With life? What would I learn from this? I felt I reached another level of trusting God, myself and others in this. I could trust myself to manage situations like these. I would not be overcome. I would not be a victim.

During this time I had several different experiences with opening up and trusting people more. Some were really painful. But then so many more were amazing and gave me so much more than I had even anticipated! I decided it was so worth taking the risk of being vulnerable and trusting people, for the sake of gaining those precious new and deeper friendships.

Maybe you think sometimes that it sure seems easier for God to tell us to trust – why, He doesn’t have to deal with the same trust-issues as we do!

Still, He doesn’t tell us to do something He doesn’t do Himself. Do you know who’s my role model when it comes to trusting people?

God! Think about it. Starting with Adam and Eve, He has entrusted us all with great responsibility. For a family. For friends. People around us in general. Neighborhoods. Cities. Nations. The whole planet. Every day God trusts people. Some to be parents. Some to be different kinds of leaders. To be someone’s best friend. Someone’s teacher. Someone’s helper in a time of need.

We are entrusted with much throughout life, but usually mess up a great deal. God actually knows how this goes, even before we were born! His trust in us isn’t blind! He knows He’ll get hurt, and still chooses to trust. Over and over again. Why would He do it?

I think it is because He knows it’s sooo worth it! He’s not afraid of our messes. They have no power over Him. Instead, I think He lives by the saying:

“Better to have loved and lost than to never have loved.”

God is truly love. He is willing to take the risk that love is, and still trust.

When I’ve trusted other people, I’ve felt like it was all about this:

“Will I get hurt, or will I be loved? I sure hope it’ll be the latter one this time.”

Now I ask myself:

“Will I trust people with my heart and love no matter what?”

By trusting others, I show that I trust them. I entrust them with my heart. I tell them that I believe in them. That I expect them to be good stewards of relationships. I want to honor people in this way. And when someone messes up, I get to be there and love. They probably need that.

Why do people mess up relationally in the first place? I think it is the result of past wounds, which can lead to our own issues with trust and not feeling fully loved.

When God entrusted us with His beloved Son, Jesus, He knew He’d be hurt badly.

Still, He did it. He trusted. And He hasn’t regretted it. On the contrary, we were always worth the trust. He got more than what He lost. The same goes for us. As we choose to trust.