Hope & Community

 

I started to write a post on hope the other day and it fizzled in my draft folder. I went back to re-examine it today to see if I could breathe in some new life and it occurred to me why it had so difficult. I usually get blocked when I’m writing about something near to my heart but not being really honest with myself .

I was talking about the hope of finding a community group… and how hard it was to find true community, like a family, especially even within the church. It seems for the most part that non-Christians sometimes get the whole “community” idea better than Christians who want to meet for a bible study once a week and then not have interaction during the week because they are busy and their “community” cup is already filled. Does that make sense? Sometimes our social circle is great- we enjoy our times but our soul years for more than a play date or work-out so we turn to our church and find a bible study. At that point, if we are lucky, we connect with a group and enjoy the benefits of a biblical community where we grow and share our lives.

But then life happens. Children are born and the schedule changes, expectations aren’t met, or personalities clash. Life is imperfect, very BUSY and having that community becomes less important as we busy ourselves with life and our friends… am I crazy to go as far as to say that perhaps having the holy spirit inside us gives us a completeness that makes us sometimes excuse having Christian fellowship? To be clear here, I’m guilty of everything I’m saying. This isn’t accusing anyone- I’ve realized that I’m the first in line with excuses why a community group isn’t right for us right now.

and I realized that I love to pray about finding a group but I’m scared to jump out there and do it.

Then there’s Bear. It’s like I’m scared… or annoyed… or just not ready to let a bunch of strangers into one of the most intimate areas of my life. I can talk about a lot of things, deeply personal things but it’s different with him. He is this special part of me with a huge chunk of my heart. I feel fiercely protective of him. And it’s not just him. I don’t want to make other people uncomfortable. People get “that look” when I tell him about his diagnosis and they don’t know what to say and I hate making them feel that way. Then, inevitably, when people hear we are gluten free someone will apologize to me for bringing something with gluten products to the dinner (we are used to avoiding gluten, it’s not a big deal at all!) … or when my children accidentally get a piece of something containing gluten other people will feel way more bad than they should…  and it’s so hard to try to make everyone around me more comfortable and I lose myself in the effort of maintaining the delicate balancing act.  I feel like I need to write a script out- how to respond to people when they feel bad or awkward. Which is HARD and really keeps community from happening.

Maybe on some level I’m still uncomfortable having a special needs child. Saying that makes me cringe inside screaming it’s not true- but it’s a fair thing to ponder. Of course it’s so much easier to just say I’m great, and most of the time I am great, but occasionally I’m in situations where I don’t know what to feel, say or do. Maybe it’ll get easier because I am growing and changing at almost as rapid of a pace that Bear is so there is no way to even predict how I’ll feel in a few more years- when my challenges are different and probably more difficult than making someone feel comfortable around us.

I’ve lowered my hopes to keep myself safe, but life is not about shielding myself from potential pain or discomfort. I want to be challenged. I want to live life to the fullest and not pull back into my safety zone, which is SO MUCH EASIER. So, we will see. I want to stop making excuses and just step out there in faith that community will happen, and even if it IS awkward in the beginning… eventually it’ll be worth it.

(PS. Thanks to my family reunion for providing “Community” pictures!)

  • Lisa

    I completely understand how you feel. Mine is more about having been hurt so many times by “Christian” friends in the past, it makes it hard to want to trust again. I am also surprised at how people react when your child has food allergies. It’s not like they are broken or that we mind bringing our own food. Hope you guys find a group too!

  • Heidi

    So you’ve had similar reactions to your kids’ allergies? It sucks!

    I’m sorry if I’ve ever hurt you unintentionally! The fact is that I know I’ve been hurt by Christian friends too.. and I’ve probably hurt people on accident as well. It’s so hard- I mean, I know people (myself) are imperfect but it really hurts when a fellow Christian does something that seems mean- even though it’s (probably) an accident. I don’t know, I’m trying so hard to be more aware of my actions and how (if) they affect others.

    We were going to try a new group tonight but they forgot to send us the info. LOL- I wanted it to be obvious what we should do for community groups but this is kind of hilarious (hurtful!! HAH!)! At first I was a little miffed BUT I know it was an accident. (I only have e-mail address/ no numbers to contact them). and that’s ok.

    We WERE going to try the new group out then go back and try our old group b/c they changed up the times, etc but now it’s kind of obvious what to do so we are going to re-join that one probably. :) )

    I hope you find community in your new group!!

  • Heidi

    ****update- we DID get an email from the group leader, but we had already made our decision so I don’t think we will visit. Maybe. I don’t know… ;) ))

  • Sarea Brockman

    So, I totally understand. I have been part of a group/groups where I am not really myself too. Really, WE should hang out more, if life wasn’t so crazy…hee hee. Seriously. LET’S HANG! I digress…I have just decided that I wanted to be more involved at the church we are going to, and joined the women’s bible study on Tuesday evenings. I am SO pumped about this because I really feel like this is a nice (small) group of women that I can connect to, and allow them to connect to me as well! So maybe, look outside the small group for the whole family (although it is really nice) and find something for just you, to rejuvenate YOU and the family benefits from it as well! Did you say ‘pedicure’? ;-)
    Love,
    Sarea CLARK (freakin’ google)

  • http://twitter.com/jenniferajanes Jennifer Janes

    I understand what you’re feeling too. I’m such a chicken that I haven’t even shared with many people about our daughter’s recent (finally!) diagnoses. She’s already “different,” and I’m afraid the labels will make it even more obvious. I hope you can find some Christian community soon. We’re very blessed to be in the church we’re in—and I realize just how blessed we are. I have been hurt in churches before—and I wasn’t the mom of a child with special needs then!

  • Lisa

    People don’t understand the whole “my child can’t have dairy” thing. They think it is just milk or cheese. They don’t realize it is anything that has butter on it or has milk cooked in it. I get a lot of weird looks when I ask detailed questions about the food. I’m really not that over protective a mom. I just like my sleep and don’t want to be up with a screaming toddler because he ate something that had dairy.
    As far as getting hurt by Christian friends in the past, I was mainly referring to the saga that played out at the end of college. If you have ever done anything that hurt me, I don’t remember it, So it’s all good. :) We are going to try and start a group on Sunday. Sunday’s aren’t the best night for us, but we are going to try it out since we already know half the people in the group and get along with them well. It also helps that the family who is hosting the group doesn’t eat dairy either (not for allergies, but for health reasons).