I wrote one of those “the truth hurts” posts over at (in)courage.
I don’t suffocate joy in my life on purpose, but I still do it.
I stood in the baby aisle at Target, overdue with my first child. Every inch swollen with expectancy. I read labels of diaper ointment and rubbed the foot kicking my side.
Someone stood beside me. I could feel her staring at my profile. I pointed my belly towards her and smiled. She leaned in and said the words like I took her breath away, “Oh, you’re so beautiful.”
I looked down at my too-tight shirt and tugged it over my child. I couldn’t see my feet, but I knew the flesh pressed out of my sandals.
Me? I looked around the empty aisle.
I smiled shyly, smoothing my messy hair. How I longed to hear those words and not just because I was awkward and uncomfortable. I never felt like a beautiful girl. Cute, sometimes pretty, but never beautiful.
And then she tried to sell me Mary Kay.
[Today, I'm rounding up a month of blog posts from the (in)courage girls, a progressive blog party, so to speak. Melissa of The Inspired Room tagged me.]
Community has hurt me.
I have been wounded by gossiping women, friends who questioned our choices and walked away when they couldn’t dream with us.
When I started blogging four years ago, I was drawn in by the community. It felt like a safe place where I could interact, but still guard my heart.
Little did I know, God would use this community of strangers to heal me.
When I didn’t have a lot of real life people to count on, I had you. Not only did you dream with me, you jumped with me into the unknown. You are a huge part of this. You are a huge part of me.
God used my pain from community wounds to show me that community would also heal me.
In the last year and a half, He’s surrounded us with real life community. Friends who listen, support, serve along side of us.
Lately our family has felt maxed out: running Mercy House, working jobs, loving our kids. But our real life church community has stepped in and held up our arms. We are surrounded by our online community and supported by our real life community.
It’s a breathtaking place to be.
I think that’s why I’m such a huge advocate of (in)courage’s initiative to foster real community right where you are. It’s called (in)RL and it was created for you.
My online and real life friend, Lisa-Jo, explains it best:
So basically, (in) RL kicks off with a webcast for everyone to watch in their living rooms Friday, April 27 and then a dedicated day of (in)courage meetups on Saturday, April 28- imagine little beach house parties – all around the country and globe and a webcast for everyone to tune into. A local meetup on a global scale; friends will gather to watch live webcasts of (in)courage contributors and community, connect with one another, and discover new friendships they didn’t know were right around the corner!
Hosts also have the opportunity to purchase specially discounted beach houses in a box, which are chock full of amazing DaySpring products.
Don’t let your community wounds stop you from discovering the most meaningful community you’ve ever known.
She didn’t have much.
Actually, compared to what we have, she had nothing.
But her little was enough.
Imagine the bleak scene: a starving widow in a desperate famine, preparing her last meal-a tiny bit of flour and oil- so she could feed her child and die.
[I've seen pictures of the famine going on in the Horn of Africa today. It's not hard to recreate the horror of the situation.]
A stranger, a man of God, showed up and asked her for bread. She told him her situation. I can almost see the defeat and sorrow etched into the deep lines of worry on her face. Elijah tells her to step out in faith.
She did as he asked. She prepared the bread and gave it to the stranger.
She gave all she had, even thought it wasn’t much to look at. The flour and oil never ran out. He turned her little into a lot.
Her inadequate offering became adequate.
I opened the mail.
In an instant, I was furious.
I’ve been having some medical tests run lately to try and diagnose the chronic pain in my neck. One of the tests was faulty and had to be repeated. It involved needles and electrical current. And tears. So, when I received an $800 bill from a doctor I’d never seen-the one who read and declared the test faulty, I was mad.
It was an insurance nightmare and on my fourth frustrated phone call, I lost it.
I ranted and complained and whined to the billing lady on the other end. It was ugly.
I was ugly.
I got off the phone and it took about 7.2 seconds for me to get the feeling. You know the one. Conviction.
Oh, but it gets worse.