God keeps driving home to me how important community is. Today my dear friend who is still at Melrose texted me. She is seriously struggling, so much so that she has all but given up. She can’t fight anymore. She’s done. I had no words for her. Usually I know what she needs me to say, how to encourage her. But today I had nothing. That is, nothing from me. What I had for her was God. I told her that today she did not have to fight. Today, we would fight for her. I emailed as many of my prayer warriors as I could think of, and we are lifting her into God’s arms because she cannot crawl there by herself today. She needs us to set her in the safety of his arms, and all I can do is live in the certainty of my faith, that my God will carry her to where she needs to be. I know as I know I have ten fingers and ten toes that God has her. I don’t know how deeply she understands this herself, but today, she doesn’t have to. Because I know it for her. We will lift her up and God will take her from us and hold her.
That is community.
That is this community that I surround myself with. I need this community, just as we all do. I need my dear friend to understand, just as I do, that this fight is not hers alone, or mine alone. That is why God made us family. So that when we are absolutely done, when we have nothing left, we know we have this family to take us directly to him. That is the only reason I know that I am where I am now in my fight with ED. Every day I remind me, remind her, remind any one who needs to know that we are stronger together. Because the fight continues. It’s not going to go away in this life. We get tired, but others will pick us up and carry us to Jesus. I have been reminded of this community countless time and in countless ways in this journey I would never have chosen for myself. But in this dark road, God has given me joy I never understood before in the circle of his love.
Benj wrote his heart last week in his blog and in his words the message was clear. Sometimes each of us is too weak or too blinded to see our own struggles. In God’s love, community has no choice, no choice, but to reach out in love and bring us to the place of healing. A cheese stick almost broke me, but the prayers of dear friends pushed ED back outside into the cold. Each day his voice fades further into the distance once again. That is community sandbagging against the flood of lies and manipulation. Never be afraid to ask, “How goes the fight?” The typical, “How are you?” just doesn’t cut it for any of us. We are programmed to answer that question.
“Fine. Yep, I’m good, thanks for asking.”
Ask the questions that cut through the walls we build to hide our hurts.
“What are you struggling with today?”
“What lies has Satan been telling you lately?”
“How can I pray for you today?”
What if we all stopped hiding behind “I’m good”? What if we weren’t afraid to admit we needed prayer? What if we stopped to see the fear in another’s eyes or the defeat and pain living there? What if we were willing to slug through the BS and get to the truth? What would our community look like? I know people are still shy to ask me how things are going. It’s so easy to assume time passing means struggles have subsided, and often, time does heal. But that doesn’t mean we can stop asking. I love when people ask me because I often don’t volunteer my heart either. I feel like who really cares. I don’t want to bother them. They have their own lives; why interrupt them with mine. But when someone asks, truly asks, the gates are opened wide and I feel freedom in being able to share: Yes, ED still gets in my head. You know what, I thought I was doing really well but I realized this week how many of my thoughts are still ED thoughts and not my own. I’m stronger, but I still realize my weakness when I have to force myself to step off the treadmill instead of going the extra minute. I see myself blurring my tallies and justifying a little less here and maybe a bit more there. I feel guilt over what I did to Benj even though it was ED and not me; it still feels like me. It’s so hard to separate ED from me sometimes. And yes, I get scared that I might never really get him out of my head.
But community is a two way straight, right? I find myself praying lately that God would show me how to get out of my own head. Building relationships has been so out of my norm for such a long time, that reaching out to people is a skill I have to reteach myself. But I want to learn. I am a student of love. Community is brick on brick mortered with love. If I feel freedom to share when I’m asked the right questions, I can’t be the only one. But I know myself how scary it can be to actually ask those questions. What if I’m being nosy? What if they think I’m being pushy? What if I step on toes? What if I hurt their feelings? What if they aren’t in the mood to share with me? But – but I think all of these what if’s are based on one thing – fear for myself. I don’t want to look stupid by asking the wrong thing. I don’t want to feel uncomfortable. I don’t want to open a can of worms. Try this “what if” on for size –
What if I don’t ask and their pain becomes too great for them to handle on their own tomorrow?
What if I don’t ask and what could have been considered a minor problem turns into a deeply rooted issue?
What if one moment of uncomfortable-ness turns into a moment of true compassion and love that someone was dying to feel?
Those are the “what ifs” that matter. Those are the “what ifs” that move into eternal issues. Instead of locking my eyes on my own feelings of inadequacies and comfort, I need to lock my eyes on Jesus and remember what he suffered for me. He didn’t beat around the bush when I sat on that bed in Melrose on November 7. He brought me to the pit because one moment of pain brought me to the true definiton of joy. God doesn’t tread lightly. He treads where he needs to go in order to bring me into his Kingdom. Do I have that determination to spread the morter between the bricks of my community? Can I be love to those around me? It’s easy for me to run the words through my fingertips onto this screen. But can I turn those words into action? I’m working on it. I’m praying on it. Doors open. God gives the courage to walk through and do love. God gives community to build his kingdom in strength and vitality.
My friend needs me today. She needs us. She can’t do it by herself. I may need strength to fight tomorrow. Someone else may need it the next. I commit to opening my eyes to God’s family. It will take some work to relearn reaching out. But this skill is an essential one. This isn’t open to excuses – no “That’s not my gift” or “I’ll let someone else do it.” Community is life giving. I’m alive because of it. This I pray, “God, let me build your wall of love.”