Community. Love. Relationship. Authenticity. Comfort
In my opinion, these words should always coincide. When you have a community of people, you should feel loved. When you are in relationship with others, it should be unashamedly authentic. You should feel safe and cared for. You should feel as though you can open up the deepest and darkest parts of yourself and still be loved for exactly who you are. Sadly, the idea of these five words being able to live harmoniously in regard to relationship with others, is foreign to a lot of people.
I am not an expert on this topic, or any topic for that matter. However, I can almost guarantee that anyone that thinks these words cannot possibly relate to relationship with others, does not have a relationship with Jesus Christ. I know this because, less than two years ago, I was that person. My family called me the “Grinch” all throughout high school because my heart might actually have been two sizes too small. I had a very negative outlook on life and other people and I was very selfish. Love to me was just a word, not a feeling, not a way of life, and definitely not something I shared with other people. It wasn’t until the day I met Jesus, in the most unexpected and perfect way (for me), that my heart not only grew three sizes in one day, but it was completely transformed and made new.
'I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. '
Now that I have this new heart, I see the world in a completely different way. I often joke about how much easier life was before I met Jesus and had this new heart that He gave me, because if I am being “unashamedly authentic,” loving like Jesus is a whole different type of love that requires sacrifice and daily commitment and prayer. I am not perfect, I have never been perfect, and having a relationship with Jesus did not make me perfect. AND THAT IS THE BEAUTY OF THIS WHOLE THING! I have always known that I am not perfect, and I have definitely always known that other people are not perfect. The big difference now, is that I can love myself and other people BECAUSE they are not perfect. I can now listen to my friends at small group and even my coworkers and strangers vent about their deepest, darkest thoughts and struggles and I can LOVE them through it. I can now trust those same friends to hear me vent about all my dirty laundry and have faith and confidence that they are going to LOVE me through it. Each day is a challenge and I have to continually seek God when I am loving others, but it has become so much easier knowing that I have the Ultimate Friend walking alongside me. Jesus is the reason that I know in my heart that these five words can absolutely coincide. Community. Love. Relationship. Authenticity. Comfort.
'Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.'
1 Corinthians 13:4-7