In 2010, Tenth Avenue released their album “The Light Meets the Dark,” featuring a list of songs that had gotten me through a rough season with anxiety in the summer of 2012. These are the lyrics of the chorus of the song “Healing Begins”:
This is where the healing begins
This is where the healing starts
When you come to where you’re broken within
The light meets the dark
I believe that you come to where you’re broken when you are surrounded by a great community who can support you while you are dealing with your feelings.
Naturally, I am an introvert. I prefer to be by myself most of the time. While it is healthy for me to journal and process my feelings on my own, I learned early on in my faith that I needed to be around people who can help affirm my identity and remind me that I am bigger than my darkest moment.
I praise God for the many communities that He had provided for me throughout the years. At age 12, I accepted Christ at the church I now attend because of the non-judgy attitude of the youth group. In college, I had friends on campus that would understand me at my core, because they loved me and pursued me enough to reach into those depths and ask me deep questions. In the summer of my sophomore year, I relied heavily on my college-aged friends from back home when I was dealing with loneliness and depression. When I went to Spain, my culture shock immediately dissipated when I met the godly group of young adults and teens who volunteered to take me under their wing. Because I’d had such an easily accessible community at Nyack College, it was difficult for me at first to branch out and make new friends when I graduated. However, God shortly provided a co-worker that would eat lunch with me and challenge me to grow.
I’ve found that at this time in my life, I truly need intentional community. The other communities that I had been a part of were handed to me on a silver platter. However, now, while I spend most of my days alone, I need to intentionally make time to be around my friends and family. Thank God for the three groups that I have joined this summer, where I can let my hair down and let people love me for me. As I write this, I’m sitting in the house of one of my best friends while she does schoolwork. Yesterday, I visited my sister, and we spent the day together while I did laundry and edited my novel. My husband and I also plan regular date nights each week.
Marriage does not make loneliness disappear. I want to be vulnerable with you and say that sometimes I feel lonely. Having a husband and (eventually) a house full of kids does not replace the need for Christ-centered, consistent community.
Community is not just sitting around the table and breathing the same air. Community is laughing together, crying together, listening to each other, and breathing life into each other. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you realize the importance of being together for the purpose of encouragement, support, and sharing experiences. While seasons change, pursue the people that fill you up, and know that they will walk with you in the best and worst days of your life.
If you’re like me and community does not come naturally to you, I would encourage you to find people in church, a gym, or in your own home. There are a ton of people around you who desire community, who have thousands of friends on social media but who feel disconnected from others. True connection is having the courage to reach deep into the hearts of those you love and pull out the good, the bad, and the ugly. Often, the hard part is allowing them to do that to you as well. However, as you open up and risk, you will grow more and more comfortable over time.
Matthew 18:20 says that Jesus is in the midst of a group of two or three who gather in His name. The same God that sheds light on Scripture in your locked bedroom is present in your meetings with friends and family who want to lift you up.
Here are some questions to get you thinking about how to have godly community and experience the healing that God has for you:
Who can you ask to be your friend today?
How can you invest more in the friendships you already have?
What is keeping you from truly opening up to your friends and family?