In my last post, I talked about the drawbacks of my not having a community; in this post, I”ll be discussing why it’s important for you to have a community.
The thought of community kept popping into my head. I always loved being part of a group of friends with whom you can just be yourself and go through life with them. Going through the Bible together, talking about personal issues, etc.
I noticed that having a group of friends is very good, and it’s important to have trusted people in your life! It helps you mature, and it helps your walk in the Lord.
As time passed, I pondered this question: why is it important to be in a community?
While being part of a small group, I picked up 6 reasons why you need a community. And I want to share them with you guys.
Reason #1 You Need a Community: Diversity
All members of my small group come from different backgrounds. They all have different stories of how they came to Christ, and they all have different struggles. Yes, some struggle more than others, but they use that to pour into each other.
All of us have different perspectives about stuff, especially when expounding the Bible. Thank God all of us do not have the same mindset! Imagine if we all had the same thought processes! Life would be so bland.
God is leading each of us on a different path, yet we meet up every week to discuss the Bible, dissect the Word, and apply it to our lives daily. At the end of the night, we challenge each other to open our minds and look at things differently from our own mindset.
Sometimes we need a dose of someone else’s perspective — even if it hurts.
Reason #2 You Need a Community: Loneliness
Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, you need some sort of community in your life. Whether it’s family, friends, or a significant other, you need at least someone to hang out with you. Being alone sucks!
You long for relationship with another human being.
And for most SSA guys, it’s wanting that straight guy friend.
I know that longing; I’ve been there! It hurts not having another person to lean on whenever life is giving you a hard time. But in due time, you will have at least one person in your life who will help you along the way — if not an entire community. This goes for those extreme introverts, too; you know who you are!
Reason #3 You Need a Community: Accountability
We may not want to admit it, but something in us wants to be held to a standard. We know ourselves, and we know we make mistakes, yet we can’t always do it by ourselves. Though wanting to be accountable for our actions is a tough one to swallow, we believers need some sort of accountability.
Even if it’s something small, that mere knowledge of someone looking out for us and checking up on us is an amazing feeling!
You don’t have to shove accountability down someone’s throat, but you can say, “Hey, remember when you asked me to check up on you? How are you doing with *insert accountability*?” And if the other person isn’t doing too well, just smile and affirm that it takes baby steps, and they’ll get there eventually. I’d say this is one of the things that separates us from non-Christian believers.
Reason #4 You Need a Community: Transparency
This one is very tricky! When we have or want to have some sort of community, we want at least one person with whom we can be honest. It sucks having stuff bottled up inside with no one to whom we can vent.
Especially someone who doesn’t judge you for it!
On the other hand, we don’t want to spew our word-vomit in such a way that we’re considered weird or a freak! Let’s be honest, there are people who take it too far!
Once we do find that balance, finally coming out of our shells, and we’re honest with one person or a group of friends, it’s a freeing feeling to have! From there you can be yourself, showing more of your true self, piece by piece.
Reason #5 You Need a Community: Trust
Following transparency, trust is a big factor of community with one another. For us SSA guys, it can be challenging to tell someone who doesn’t struggle like we do. It can be especially challenging when we’ve never told anyone our “secret.”
It’s challenging to be very vulnerable with someone else, someone who probably has no clue that their friend or “the new guy” at the group struggles with same-sex attraction.
Once trust is established, you can move forward with hopefully an awesome relationship.
Reason #6 You Need a Community: Love
I think this final reason ties everything together. John 13: 34-35 and 1 Corinthians 13 sum up everything by saying that if love isn’t in the equation of your actions, then all of this is for nothing. Go read it for yourself! Wanting to be part of a community should be entangled in love!
If you don’t know how to express love to someone, I think being part of a community is the best place to start. In the end, we want to love and be loved.
It’s hard finding these traits in a community! Especially if you live in a very rural town. I hope and pray that one of these days you’ll find a group of friends or a community to call your own.
Remember, you don’t have to fight your battles on your own.
Do you have a regular community where you live? Do you see yourself lacking in one of these six traits? What’s the easiest trait, and what’s the hardest one? What is your ideal community?
* Photo courtesy Astrid Westvang, Creative Commons.
Great post Matthew You are so right on with each point. I am blessed in my church experience to have all these pieces in place and to be affirmed that they are all really important. The easiest one for me is the church community itself as I have been involved all my life. Ultimately we need the fellowship of the body of believers to facilitate our own spiritual wholeness and growth. It is in this fellowship where all the other pieces have become part of the total Christian community experience. The hardest one for me is the loneliness part. Being one of those extreme introverts( first time I’ve heard that one ), Ive struggled all my life to have intimate relationships with any one , male or female, ssa or straight. This was a challenge for me before being tempted by ssa. I have failed this past year in all my intentional attempts to change this but I am not giving up. And from what I read on this blog I have a fair amount of company on this one. Thanks for sharing you insight and thanks be to God who calls me his friend.
Thank you for sharing Chris…I appreciate so much you sharing
Thank you for the comment Chris B! What I also found, which I may have talked about in the last post, is that sometimes you need to let that intimate/one-on-one friendship envelop by itself. It may take awhile, but if you let it manifest for itself, then you’ll be ready for it! You’ll also learn more about yourself, life, and what it means to have a biblical sacrificial friendship. Plus you’ll mature in your walk with Christ, that way you can share, and pour out into another’s life, but don’t force it. Just be in the moment of having a group of friends, because you may not have that experience in the future.
What a wonderful post! Since moving to a new state last year, I have found it hard to connect with anyone. A small town where everyone seems related in some way, people like one to give but don’t reciprocate, where anything SSA is not considered well…I have the Lord but I do need some “friends with skin on” too. I have tried over the years, but have never had an accountability partner, a prayer partner etc. I take comfort in God’s promises to me but I would sure enjoy having some friends to hang out with, go out to eat with…just have someone to talk to would be terrific!!!
Yeah, it’s hard to find that type of friendship or community, especially in a small town where everyone knows everyone! I’ve been down that road before. But sometimes you need to show people by example of how it looks like. What your looking for might mean you need to show others how it’s done. That’s actually the case for me the past few years, but once you show them how it looks like, then in turn, either to you or other people in the future, they’ll show what friendship looks like. You gotta be patient, and sometimes make tough calls too.
I <3 this community.
And we <3 you!
Hi Matthew, thanks for another good post. All six of your points are true and vital. I think the hardest trait for most is the diversity. I think for my wife and I that may be the easiest. We love different cultures, art forms, expressions. And it has been difficult over time to find a church community that has an appreciation of diversity. Many people do not want to take the time to understand a different viewpoint. Everything, even minor traits like hairstyles or dress , is seen as a salvation issue, and those who do not conform are not trusted. We do have a regular community. It is small, but it is solid. Most have been hurt badly by the church, but they do not blame God, and they know he is concerned about transformed lives rather than petty details or manmade dogma. Our church of many years was recently split over the issue of diversity. One leader was called to reach out more to the marginalized. She spoke out at a meeting. She was erroneously labeled a socialist, and a horrible, devilish chain of events began. She is no longer in our church. But she is in our community. She greatly encouraged my daughter this week in her struggles in ministry. Not long ago, this lady was not terribly diverse herself. Now, she has been blacklisted for obeying God, but she is still reaching out to the homeless, transgendered, etc.My ideal community would be a little bit larger with a lot of folks who look like her. Well, it doesn’t matter if they look like her, but I would want their hearts to be like her heart.
Dude! That’s amazing to hear about your friend! That right there is Jesus’ love put in action! I hope you never loose this community or that you learn great while you’re in that community where you share what you found to others.
Thanks Matt! I hope so too. Yá’át’ééh Keshmish
Dude! Glad you found this place! Yeah, I used to get that feeling of like your a lab rat, feeling like your an outsider, or you might think they don’t understand you. That’s where I had to step up and show them that there are people like us, who struggle with our sexuality, and if they view us as lab rats, then I’m gonna make sure they learn a few stuff while they’re my friends! And if they don’t understand me, then I’ll make sure they do before them or I move on with our lives. Haha.
Definitely like how you put it towards the end.
It does take a village to raise a child. I’ve always felt like I’ve lacked community because of my small family and extremely limited social circle. This is definitely something our modern culture has forgot about and instructs you should open your hear to only your intimate family. Number 2 is the main reason I need community. I’ve had some crushing loneliness. Oddly enough it has been loneliness while being in a crowd of indifferent people. That really gets hard after a while.
Another excellent post Matt.
Merry Christmas to everyone that is celebrating.
Merry Christmas DGH!
Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. That’s 6 yes’s
Jesus, brothers. Wishing y’all Jesus this Christmas. And grateful to each of you who pointed to him this past year.
Merry Christmas bluzhawk! I have greatly enjoyed sharing with you this past year. Christ’s peace to you this day and in 2017. I have to go prepare for our Christmas decathlon.
Me too, back atcha brother.
I heard it helps to catch a breath between events.
Good advice! I’m sure I will need to pause after the “put garland and santa hats on the goats” event and before the “doing planks with the holy family on your back.”
Great topic and post Matthew, I resonate with the need for community. Been feeling it a lot lately. Thank you for talking about this! Loneliness and Transparency especially hit home; and I know I need Accountability as well!
Matthew. Yes. I’ve been meaning to respond for awhile now (this blog has been a tab on my browser for a few days).
Loneliness – as somebody who has trouble staying in one location for a long time, I resonate with this too much. Those first weeks, months in a new place it’s REAL easy to feel lonely as I search for new community. And since I’ve had good community in my life, I know what I’m missing out on when it’s not there. Some of my most fun experiences have been when community, other guys, have “forced” me to come along!
Accountability – the best/worst part of community. In the short term, how painful (and awkward?) it can be, especially when I wasn’t used to having it. But in the long term, how beautiful to have other guys asking questions that matter and knowing that they are interested, invested in my responses.
And Love – this is part of why I’m here. Because love can be tough for me – to give and receive. Yet, in community I have been growing in both of these. Understanding love I think is a life-long process for all of us – no matter our attraction.
Thanks for sharing this brother!
I started a community in the East Idaho area. Ever so slowly, our numbers are growing and it is wonderful! I look forward to our weekly meetings so much. It is absolutely VITAL to have a safe place to talk, connect, touch, share, cry, love, rage, listen, and support other Brothers in the area who are walking this same path. <3