A God sized dream became realized over the weekend. 1700 women from all over the world gathered in small groups to share life together. Introverts, extroverts, single, married, leaders, followers, a magnificent paradox of people created real life community that was “seeded on- line” but came to fruition in real life.
The Lord used (in)courage’s inRL weekend to speak differently to each woman. He opened eyes, quieted hearts, restored relationships, birthed friendships, and allowed Life (yes, with a capital “L”) to bloom. It was such an over the top God thing, that we can only do a collective sigh, well, maybe a shout, giggle or happy dance too, and say, “Thank you, Lord.”
As I watched the inRL twitter stream and read the comments, one truth resonated, “I needed this. I need real community.” Not the Webster’s dictionary kind of social group community, but community that calls us to bring our messy, our misunderstood, and even our mundane. Community that allows us to acknowledge our failures, but will also let us celebrate our successes. Community that will sometimes just “be.”
I have no beautifully poetic words to describe this, so I’ll just state the fact. Community is hard. As we shared in the keynote, it can be scary, and it can hurt. Yet the Lord, in his infinite wisdom, wired us to crave community, and when true Koinonia occurs, it points others to Him.
Referenced nineteen times in the New Testament, the Greek root for fellowship, Koinonia, is also translated by the words, “participation and sharing.” Commentaries suggest that Koinonia always includes action in its meaning. Did you catch that, ladies? Action!
Community is not just about being together, it’s about doing Life together.
That’s why I typically refer to Life with a capital L? I want to be intentional with my moments, but it’s more than just living Life to its fullest, it’s about doing Life together. It’s about bringing both our beauty and our bedlam to share with each other.
As a guest in our home, friends are greeted with this reminder. Can we truly celebrate both our beauty and bedlam? It’s my heart’s desire.
On-line community is precious, and offers many of us a place to be ourselves when we feel there’s no where else to turn. My on-line community has encouraged me during moments when I most needed it, yet true koinonia shares all kinds of life together, in real life, in real time, and not just on blog time.
A problem with on-line community is that it’s on our time. Life is done on our blog time. It’s community when it’s convenient. It’s community when I decide I want it to be. It’s community when I decide to comment, or ignore a comment, but that’s not reality in true fellowship.
Bonhoeffer reminds us, “Those who love their dream of a Christian community more than the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest, and sacrificial.”
Ouch! But so true.
Some of you look at this picture and dream of a perfect christian community. This picture seems to symbolize what that might be, but in reality, many women in this picture carried heavy burdens that weekend. Some even felt as if they didn’t fit in or belong, yet all of them, all of us there, desired to be the hands and feet of Jesus to others.
That, my precious sisters, is real life community. In those vulnerable moments, the Lord meets us and whispers His love words to our heart and reminds us that He is enough. For me, in the midst of those times, I pray and ask the Lord to bring just one person to walk along side me, and He always answers. Now, His time table may not always be my time table, but He answers, and while I wait, I grow and learn and reflect.
We’ve spent all month talking about community here on (in)courage.
We’ve shared vulnerably about how community can make or break us, and tried to be practical with some action steps on building community right where you are at, regardless of life stage or location.
Now, I would love to hear some of your reflections.
Do you have one take away point that you planning on implementing in your own life?
For me, I am going to start up my Kitchen Sister’s Club again. It was a wonderfully practical way of making meal time madness magical, while enjoying an intentional time of fellowship and sharing together with my friends. Yes, it’s work, but it’s worth it.
So, what’s yours?
Jen, from Balancing Beauty and BedlamLeave a Comment
Oh, there were so many take away moments that I want to live out. I didn’t write down the lady who said this and I can’t remember which one, but she said to know and known, to love and be loved. I want to be known and loved but I also want to know and to love others. I really need to work on that in the flesh more.
Anna Marie says
Oh I LOVED so much of what you said throughout the videos, Jeni. But I especially loved the Kitchen Sisters idea! THAT one I want to try and live out. I have been on a healthy eating plan with my doc since last November, trying to shed the excess weight i gained in my 20’s due to an eating disorder (BED). I have already lost a stone and gone down 2 dress sizes, but have been lacking motivation these last few weeks. Mostly because I have to do so much cooking in advance and so far, always on my own. But not anymore! No Siree – with YOUR idea, I can totally get moral support, achieve my cook-ahead goals and hopefull get re-inspired. Will let you know how it goes x
Jen (Balancing Beauty and Bedlam) says
So thrilled you are going to use the Kitchen Sister’s idea. Tying it in with all your goals is a perfect blend. Please give me an update of how it went. Take pictures. 🙂
janmary, N Ireland says
“Jesus with skin on!”
This is beautifully written. As I sit and read I think of how much I love to dive into the arms of the women in my little community and my much larger community. They are there and there is so much Life to do with them. I’m going to be intentional today, this day, about picking up the phone and calling 3, to pass on love, encouragement and knowing how Jesus always works, receive blessing in the reaching out. It does take going past the threshold of one’s own life into community to get to those arms that wait in love. But oh, the blessings that wait.
Thanks for inspiring in such a eloquent way. And I love the Greek, beautiful so beautiful. Great way to start walking out His new Mercies on a Monday.
Jen (Balancing Beauty and Bedlam) says
Elizabeth – thanks for sharing your intentionality. Those three ladies will be blessed by your words.
Blessed beyond a doubt says
I was not able to participate this year in RL, but wanted to. I LOVE on-line community! It’s a wonderful way to share His Holy Word and to meet like-minded people who share their hearts and struggles. It makes life REAL.
I’m there next time (:
Thanks for sharing your heart!
Beth Williams says
One thing I love about Community–big, small, in person or on-line is the open & honest sharing of life’s struggles and victories. It is sooo wonderful here at In Courage that women are free and willing to be truly open and honest about their lives.
This give me a better perspective on my life and allows me to pray for you all out there and not “whine” so much about my small/minute problem.
Thanks soo much everyone!
“Community is not just about being together, it’s about doing Life together.”
Oh I LOVE that Jen. Thank you so much for being such an honest voice in this community, such an encourager, such a champion of deep friendships. And I would SO come over for bulk cooking day if we were neighbors!
I don’t have time to write all I hope to take and live in real life, but I have a plan. I want to walk through doors God opens to community. Even if it is my own door, and I walk through to invite someone in.
while I did not get to be part of this weekend, I took what you said about community very serious. I am praying to find my niche and step out of my comfort zone and it seems God is helping me. He has brought bible study to me with a group I have never met because my other group disbanded. I am nervous. What if I don’t fit in, but I am taking hte leap of faith.
Janelle-A Story of Grace says
I’m truly blown away by the sense of community here. What a joy to see.
I loved this conference!! I love it when I see women connect in real ways. Not just surfy chit-chat. Nothing wrong with it but I love to go deep. Jen I don’t think I have ever heard someone else say that ! I have always felt that. I absolutely love it when women get real with me and share their hearts. One take – away for me is to wait for God. Listen for God and don’t go ahead of God! Let Him guide and direct me. I have a God sized job ahead of me in my church. Don’t feel real adequate for this particular job but I know that my God is adequate. Perfect timing for this conference !! Thanks so much for all the hard work you all put in!!
Maybe this was already asked, but can you tell me where to get one of the “God-Sized Dreams” bracelets shown in the picture?
I can’t tell you how much I have took away from this conference,I would be writing an essay in the comments sections. What I do know without a doubt was that Jesus was in the words spoken crying out to me saying “hey girl this Is what I want for you”. Life isn’t meant to be walked alone, incourage has inspired to try again In friendship, in hope.
Stepping Out of My Box:(in)RL Meetup | A Delightful Glow says
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