(Come back for a video post later today.)
When I wrote My Battle With Chronic Pain I had no idea what kind of response I'd get. Today, 2+ weeks after that post, the comments are still coming in. Your candor and openness in your struggle were unexpected, but welcomed. Your comments painted a picture of real hurt. I was touched by stories of infertility, depression, isolation, and being misunderstood. My first reaction was to reach out to each one of you, and stand by you in you circumstance. Unfortunately, the reality of you being there and me being here makes that impossible.
Though we're strangers, I love you and care deeply about what happens to you. When you share your pain I don't take that lightly. I know what pain is, I know depression, I know frustration; we are connected in these ways. (But I also know joy and pray we're connected in this way, too.)
So I started to pray for you (and continue to do so). And God started working in me.
Then, clearly, it came down to one small word: community.
God made us for relationships. I need community and so do you. While blogging and leaving comments is great it falls short of true community. It's easy to visit a blog, identify with a topic, write a comment that connects you with it, but still leave unfulfilled. I know this because it has happened to me. I may leave a zinger of a sass mouth comment of Stuff Christians Like. I laugh, go back to the comments later, see what others have to say. There's nothing wrong with any of that, as long as it's not an idol. But sometimes, when a topic hits a nerve, regardless of whether or not I comment, I draw back from the computer wondering, "What now?" You see, I'm still sitting alone behind the same computer I was sitting behind 10 minutes ago. Yet now I have questions and I feel alone in them.
Maybe this sounds familiar to you. Maybe not, and I'm glad for you. Either way, keep reading.
When a blog touches on an issue, like your very personal battle with pain, I think you should chime into the discussion. Pour your heart out, whether it's to agree or disagree. But, please, as the author of this blog, I'm asking you not to stop there.
What I'm saying is don't let this blog, or any other, mask your need to be in real, open, and vulnerable connections to your church family. Share your pain with the people around you daily.
You may be thinking what I thought for years: No one at my church cares or wants to understand. Are you sure? In your entire congregation there isn't a person who cares? If that's the case it's time to find a new church. Before you say goodbye, ask yourself this: Is it possible you've looked for friendship and understanding in the wrong places within your church? Not all groups will work for everyone. If you think you can't be yourself with the group you associate with now, maybe it's time to gracefully move on in pursuit of other friendships.
This will not be comfortable at first. But once you commit to finding your place in the Body of Christ you will find freedom because you don't have to be a square peg in a round hole anymore. You get to be you, exactly as God made you. Satan is lying to you and you're believing it if you think you're all alone. (We got 41 comments in the post My Battle With Chronic Pain. If that many people commented here I guarantee your church home is full of like minded people. Struggle is universal.) You don't have to be alone, but you do have to put forth the effort to pursue relationships.
God IS ALIVE in His body. He actively ministers to us through other people. But we have to make efforts, too. No matter if we've been hurt before, ignored, wronged, etc. For the sake of Jesus in you, please, find your place in The Body.
I write these things to you not as a know it all, but as someone who is making this change right now. It has taken me nearly 7 years to do this, but better late than never. What I'm finding is that the world is opening up to me via putting myself out there. And I'm finding ways to serve back. Before I decided to get serious about my needs, there were people who knew I was in pain. But I held myself back from them because I believed the lies that said they wouldn't understand.
Now I know "they" were not the problem, my church was not the problem - I was. Well, me and my sin of isolation. That's right. For me it was sin.
So today, when several people asked how I've been feeling, I was able to tell them, "I had a good week." They were happy for me. They care. Letting God redeem my pride is replacing my heart of stone for a heart of flesh. The biggest difference: flesh is alive!
I think the same thing is waiting for you. Like I said, I love to read your comments and you are always welcomed here. Just don't let this be the only place where you get fed.
Perhaps you're already involved in strong community. Or maybe it's time for you to leave the nest. Either way, I have one pointed question for you today, my friends: What can you do this week to take a step closer to community? How will you further define your place in the Body of Christ?
Today especially, I'd really love to hear from you.
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