Today's reading caught me by surprise. As I read through the bible verses, I began to reflect on my past experiences faith communities. As I read through the lesson, I prayed - Lord, what do you want me share?... Not THAT...?!
Here's the thing. That 'time with the nuns' I've been talking about had a really really dark side. I had gone to Canada to attend a private 'Christian' boarding school. Anglican. (sort of) It was led and administered by a community of people who were devoted to the school - they all lived and worked on the campus. On the surface it was an idyllic picture of Christian community.
The longer I stayed, and further involved I became though, I realized that the community part was pretty twisted. By the time I left, I understood that this well-meaning group of people had allowed themselves to devolve from community into cult. Lots twisted spiritual beliefs and outright lies. Really bad relationship practices. Lots of 'discipline' that was outright emotional abuse.
So... talk of 'community' can be tough for me. Over the years, the Father has worked on healing me from my wounds and brokenness related to living in a cult. Lots of lies to be renounced. Lots of love to receive and trust to rebuild.
Last year, I was invited to join a small group at Tri County Church - North Central Campus. And I loved the idea of it. But I was terrified. Because, in my experience, we're all just one bad idea away from spiritual and emotional abuse. ( That can become tangled up in some really awesome experiences and learning...)
Ugh. Talk about baggage.
Healthy fellowship with a group of Christians is a positive discipline (training) for me. I love being part of a small group, but sometimes it still scares me. I am so grateful to have developed deeper relationships and friendships - and to have been given another opportunity to "learn to respect and care for people who aren't exactly like me". (Without all the twisted stuff.)
If you struggle with relationship-building in your church, or don't even go to a church because of past wounds - I totally get you. Let me encourage you though - nothing replaces working through life with each other. Even when it's hard. Especially when it's a personal challenge.
Online is good for a season, zoom is a 'just for now' solution, but nothing replaces the rewards of trusting God and responding to the call to 'not forsake the assembling of ourselves' (just fancy words for - Y'all need to be together!). I'm praying for you if this is something you struggle with. If you don't struggle with it, hey, I'd appreciate any of the prayers you can throw at me and others like me.
You can find the lesson for today at She Read Truth - Fellowship