Hope in Community


Sometimes it all just feels like too much.

I look around at all of the disagreement and polarization and talking without listening to each other. It’s like the Tower of Babel must have been: chaos.

I’m guilty of this too. I have run from conflict, more often than not, I’ve capitulated, said things for effect, or metaphorically plugged my ears, waiting for my turn to talk. I’ve left relationships, conversations and places of business because I’ve wanted to be right. I’ve wanted to surround myself with people who think the way I do so that I never have to be uncomfortable.

Little by little, God has drawn me out of those patterns. He’s put me in situations, groups, conversations. He’s pointed out books and blogs and people. I don’t agree with everything said in these settings, but that isn’t the point.

The point is not for me to be right. That’s God’s job, wrapped in mystery.

The point is for me to listen, to engage, to love, to speak my opinion, even when it’s unpopular.

All of this sharpening and challenging is good, I know, and I’m pursuing it in my life. But recently, I’m realizing how thankful I am for the people (a precious, wonderful few) who pour out hope into my glass like wine, clinking their own glass with mine and drinking deeply.

I’ve been intentional with these people, sharing who I really am. They have shared themselves with me, too. I don’t worry that someday they are going to find out the truth about me and gasp in horror. They know the truth, they are still here.

As we drink up our hope, we can dream together. We can dream without censoring our language, without monitoring how we’re coming across. In settings like this, I know that I am loved, that I am safe, that I can be frank.

Some of these connections have been very unexpected. I’ve spent a good portion of this year praying to find my tribe. I’ve found them, among the interwebs, the stained glass-windows and at the head of a classroom. I am still finding them.

I’ve written a bit about about my dark time this summer. As I walked through that, I began to see the gaps between what I thought community should be and what I had. I’d been faking community. From the outside, it was hard to tell the difference.

Life never seems to cease to throw me curveballs, some subtle, others not. Instead of standing near home plate, praying I can knock it out of the park, I’ve been calling up my team, asking them to help me get the ball where it needs to go.

Recently, several circumstances conspired to make me feel like I was drowning. I reached out, within moments, my people were on it. It was then that I realized how distinct these gifts are. The people in my life offered practical assistance, emotional support, prayer, perfectly suited words of encouragement. I could feel them pouring out glasses of hope for me, and raising their own.

Life mystifies me sometimes because it does not stop. No matter what I do, or what is shaking the planet, it never pauses. My world can be crashing around me, my heart can be lighter than air. It continues. I’m making peace with this, but I’m not doing it alone.

{photo credit}

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  • http://www.carisadel.com Caris Adel

    I love this. I can relate so much.

    • Cara Strickland

      Love having you as part of my surprise community, Caris.

  • http://growingingreenwood.wordpress.com growingingreenwood

    Community is definitely a buzz word in Christian circles. I’m curious about the specifics of what you saw in fake community?

    • Cara Strickland

      Thanks for asking this! Honestly, it wasn’t that my community was fake, it was that I was being fake about doing it. I wasn’t sharing who I really was, I had my guard up so far that I couldn’t connect with people. Now that I’m not doing that, I’m finding that community looks different than I thought, I don’t have to worry about whether people would like me if I slipped and shared too much.

      • http://growingingreenwood.wordpress.com growingingreenwood

        I can totally relate. I’ve been really encouraged by your blog. You and I write about eerily similar topics.

        • Cara Strickland

          Thank you so much! I love it when that happens, clearly God is moving in similar ways.

  • http://redneckgarage.wordpress.com Redneck Garage

    In the end one has to remain true to who they are and what they believe. We all need a team of close friends who we can trust to help us through the rough spots in life (I’m gaining expertise in this area myself). Sounds like you have found a winning team! Life is all about quality relationship not the number of “friends”, as some would lead us to believe.

    • Cara Strickland

      So true, Patrick.
      I’m watching the Lord bring an amazing team into my life. It’s wonderful.
      Hoping just the same for you.

  • mizcaliflower

    Oh my word!
    You took the thoughts right out of my head. Those first six paragraphs…You put words to so many of my thoughts,
    Though much of my circumstantial life, leaves me gasping for air, I’ve yet to connect with my tribe.
    Thank you for sharing these profound insights.

    • Cara Strickland

      I’m so glad!
      It’s so easy to feel all alone, for me, and to feel like I can’t make a difference.
      I hope that you find your tribe soon, although I think that it’s probably a lifelong process.

  • http://www.natalietrust.com Natalie Trust

    All my love for these words, and I saw myself in them too. Thank you, Cara.

    • Cara Strickland

      You’re in here, Natalie, and I’m so glad. xoxo. Thank you for being present and real in my life.

  • http://www.mywordstudy.com Lisa

    Wonderful post. Unfortunately, I feel I can relate too much to this. Fake community, looking for my tribe. I’m so happy for you to experience this new freedom. I’m looking forward to my own.

    • Cara Strickland

      Thank you, Lisa!
      I hope that you can find true, brave community soon.
      Thanks for being here.