Joining the Circle: The Need for Community
As a child, I loved to make a “blanket house.” It was this magical place where you could just barely see the light between the gaps in the comforter hanging on the dining room chairs. Someone could walk by, and they wouldn’t even know you were looking at them. Or you could curl up in the corner and just listen for the footsteps: the hard and the soft. My love for solitude continued to adulthood. So, it probably comes as no surprise that being around groups of people is not easy for me.
God has been dealing with me lately on how important it is to be in community. So when I saw the deadline for signup for the Women’s Retreat at Peace, I had to push myself to register. It wasn’t easy. But church dinners and even church (gasp) sometimes aren’t easy for me. Frankly, community exhausts me a lot. Don’t get me wrong; I love good conversation with a few, but the thought of nonstop chatter with a large group makes this pregnant woman nauseated, and not because of said baby.
So of course, during the retreat, our speaker, Debbie Mays, talked about how important it is to be connected to a faith community. And then I felt the discomfort in my belly. Whoops. Here is when I become a spiritual recluse: I get busy and the only thing I want to do is read my daily devotion while listening to the dishwasher hum. But the problem is: Who is going to call me out if I start to love on some dark fantasy? Because for me, the biggest enemy is my mind. In Proverbs 27:17, it reads: “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Mrs. Mays reminded me of this important truth. She spoke of the importance of having many different people in your community, including a mature Christian who can keep you on track. Many of the ladies I chatted with over the weekend helped me wise up spiritually. The Lord knew it was not good for man to be without people. You can find this truth all the way back in Genesis 2:18 where it reads: “Then the Lord God said, ’It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’”
My best friend is extroverted. A year or so after college, we gallivanted around Europe together. I remember one train ride where I encountered a couple of men in a drum circle. They invited me to come drum with them. I declined and raced back to my seat and my waiting book. At one point, Rosemary (my friend) disappeared to go to the bathroom. She didn’t come back for a while, so I went to go check on her. It didn’t surprise me when I saw her playing a drum alongside those same men who had invited me to sit with them. She was having a grand time. I shook my head, but at the same time I was envious of her bravery. I think of this event often when I find myself filled with trepidation about joining the community or believers, or the community at large, and I give myself that push and join the circle.