COMMUNITY

woman near window
Photo by Martin Péchy on Pexels.com

I have been in personal hiatus lately, meaning, I’ve spent lots of time alone. There are a few reasons for this need at this moment. Life has been a little topsy-turvy and cumbersome over the last few years. Trying to find my footing through events, circumstances, hills, and valleys requires personal reflection. I am grateful for the journey, and the lessons being learned. For times such as these, the growth and outcomes generated are profitable, leading to the place of much-needed serenity and peace.

Some people look at being alone as something taboo. For me, it’s one side of my personality I have to indulge in and balance. I’m an introvert who has learned to socialize like an extrovert in various settings. Being quite reticent, I spend time internalizing life (mine, others, the world we live in, etc., etc., etc.). Summoning memories of my youth confirm writing as a natural place to dispose of my uncomfortable thoughts. Writing has become my road to sanity; a place I can’t deny to extinguish the ugliness of negative emotions. I chose to empty my thoughts on paper rather than wreck my limited relationships through verbal carnage.

This weekend I learned something in my hiatus important to me as an individual. As much as I enjoy my alone time, I still need my community! I googled the word community for the relevant definition and found it – the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common [1] Although I enjoy my periods of alone time, I don’t want to be alone all the time. Socializing provides laughter and deep conversations about God, family, and all things life-related. In those times, I feel a part of something intensely gratifying. My heart warmly enthralled with God in knowing I am alone only when I choose to be.

grayscale photography of people worshiping
Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

Being a part of a community of like-minded people who care for you creates a sense of connection. A church community joins like-minded believers into a body that guides and cares for your salvation, spiritual growth, and servanthood. In a job community, some people help you develop skill sets for career elevation. The community of family fosters a place of unconditional love, encouragement, protection, and treasured examples of leadership.

This weekend I joined another community. An affinity of writers and would-be writers called to tell their stories. Memoirs, poetry, non-fiction, fiction, devotionals, bible studies, etc., an amazing expanse of creativity. I needed this community with whom I could share this part of my life. They host my passion to share and enthusiastically celebrate life on its terms. In this place, encouragement and support abound. Without hesitation, it is the solid ground upon which to plant my author’s feet as I grow into the writer I am destined to become.

At the end of the day, we all need COMMUNITY.

[1] https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/community; 2 [mass noun]

Blindsided by the Blind Spots in the Wall

Beware of the dust that gathers while standing still at the gate!

Copyright © Wanda Murry, Speak True Life, May 23, 2018

Encarta Dictionary: English (North America):  blind–side (transitive verb), blind–side (blind·sid·ed, blind·sid·ing, blind·sides)

  1.  Attack from blind side

to attack somebody suddenly and physically by hitting the person on a side where his or her peripheral vision is obstructed

  1.  Attack when vulnerable

to take somebody unawares suddenly, with detrimental results to that person

WebstersDictionary.com – blind spot  noun

2an area in which one fails to exercise judgment or discrimination

Your chest is on fire; your eyes burn with cloudiness; your breathing is labored.  Your head hurts as swirls of darkness envelop you like a soft glove.  You are rattled to the core and left feeling as if a sledgehammer has pummeled your chest. Surely you must be dying; surely the pain will be to your demise.

Tremors ripple throughout your body leaving you spineless.  Your body, in slow motion, crumbles into a heap upon the floor.  Using the last bit of strength you can muster, you wrap your arms around your body as you curl into a ball.  As tears fall, draining you of any coherent thought, even death becomes a welcome idea.

You have just been blindsided by the blind spots in your life.  While you were busy managing the multiplicity of life, you left yourself vulnerable to the attacks that are constant against those in Christ, and that which is common to the flesh.  Sometimes, the greatest blind spot is to believe one is exempt from the very temptations and troubles that accumulate into lusts of the flesh, the eyes, and pride, even though God’s Word speaks to the contrary.

In our failure to stay spiritually and mentally alert through God’s Word and an active prayer life, complacency creeps in like a tiny spider—unseen until its webs are anchored in the dark spaces our eyes did not see — and our lukewarm hearts did not feel.  Blind spots take many forms: stubbornness, carelessness, laziness, pride, trust issues, scriptural starvation, spouses, work, multiple endeavors (spiritual & physical), worldly lusts, fear, ministry(ies), bitterness, fatigue, children, weariness, etc., etc., etc.  Their development grows as one gets a little too comfortable in their state of fellowship and worship with the Holy God.

Old Testament stories highlight this common breach in the life of those on varying levels of relationship with God.  Nothing new under the sun, for there are many examples of strong beginnings of faithful servants who later falter and fall.  A tour of the internet provides an increasing number of moral failures in our churches for our learning in these modern days.  And, it is this faltering that creates the breach in our spiritual fortress.  The story found in Nehemiah is a welcome reminder.

worm view of concrete structure
Photo by Chris Carter on Pexels.com

In learning that The remnant left of the captivity in the province … (were) in great affliction and reproach: (1:3), Nehemiah’s response provides us with a picture of one whose heart is towards God and God’s people, much like an uncompromising shepherd in this Laodicean church age.  In short, verses 3b-11 is the hope of a heart for what God loves … his people.  Note:

… the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven, … Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, … 11 O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: … and grant him mercy in the sight of this man…”

We are warned to remember the examples in the Old Testament by 1 Corinthians 10:1-12 – to not lust after evil things, be idolaters, commit fornication, tempt Christ, or murmur. Nonetheless, when there are blind spots in our vision, the walls of spiritual protection fall, delivering our moral compasses into the hands of worldly versions of right vs. wrong, causing spiritual weakness and compromise.052418-PrideWhen I read “There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.” (Proverbs 30:12) or the warning cry of Isaiah 5:21-Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” it is like the slap of wet hands upon the face saying, WAKE UP!  Ignorant I am not – I have fallen into several pits with scars to show.  I suspect there may be more.  So there is a great need to minimize more damage by banishing complacency, and opening my eyes and ears.  It is as good a place as any to start – at least for me.

 

The walls are failing, the breaches are widening, and God’s people cannot afford to abandon their posts#2.

Lord, wipe away the haze from our eyes; open our ears to hear the crumbling of the walls that we may turn our hearts to you again. Though our fortresses are weakened by decay, help us arm ourselves with the building materials of your mighty sword (Hebrew 4:12) and vanquish the enemy of our flesh.  Keep us from getting lost in the fabric of a busy life, that we may fortify the kingdom of God and secure the breaches with armed watchmen upon thy walls.