Change isn’t always fun, and for the past few weeks I have been experiencing much of that mundane, anxiety-filled change. Not the “I dyed my hair blue” change, or the “I just upgraded my iPhone” change. I’m talking about I moved from a space of comfort, one that I felt was completely mine although it wasn’t, to a less private and less familiar space all for the sake of saving some dimes for my own wedding.(Although I am grateful for the Lord’s provision.) I’ve been traveling back and forth, missing out on time with my community, attending wedding showers, moving, working and this type of change has not been entirely fun. More often than not, I’ve found myself in a space of anxiety and worry and feeling lonely. And right about the time it began to hit me that I was feeling lonely, it hit me that my own friends had their own share of change and experiences and instead of love and empathy taking room in my heart, I was beginning to feel angry and sad.
The people I felt like I had most needed couldn’t cater to my needs the way I had felt like I needed them to and I was left feeling abandoned and not cared for. And even more than that, I found myself frustrated because I found that I was being asked to care for them when I felt like I was the one that needed the care!
It was then that the Lord checked my heart. He brought back to remembrance a simple statement my counselor had shared with me some time aback: “You cannot love what you need.”
Y’all don’t even know the depth of that statement, LOL!!!
During my time in counseling, a very simple yet profound fact was stated to me: We are innately selfish. And because of this, we cannot love what we need. If we need love, or affirmation, or care, or identity from someone it is impossible for us to actually love, affirm or care for them in the way that we are actually called to. The focus is so much on ourselves! But even bigger than that is the poisonous idea that we need them!
Now let me make this disclaimer: To a degree we need people. No man is an island. But the deeper question is, to what end do we truly need community?
In this case, I had felt so deeply that I needed my friends to cater to me so badly, that not only have I been rendered incapable of loving them well in their own seasons, but I’ve put them in the place of God! I had turned a very true thing, namely ‘that I needed care and love,’ into an absurd lie, namely ‘that these people are the source of my care and love and if they withhold that from me then I am unloved and I am losing my friends.’ And, in turn, I didn’t know how to pray for them or talk to them in the middle of their own heat. I wasn’t allowing the only One who is enough to care for my soul and replenish it and give me the love I needed to go on and love my own community.
My community was not enough, and I was left with the question: Then Who Is? My family isn’t near me. My single friends have either busied themselves or are experiencing their own tough seasons and fiancé cannot possibly fill me the way that I desire to be filled! So then who? Who is enough for me?
And then the Lord sweetly reminded me, “I Am Enough.”
You see, community is a gift given by God, and, indeed, by it we experience the love of God and the care that He desires for us. He works through His body to care for His own and there is no wickedness in saying, “hey, I felt unloved by this or that,” but before we get to that place, there has to be some soul searching. Before you call something a sin, there are the questions, “What is my expectation?” “Why am I so offended?” “Am I looking for these people to do something that only God alone can do?” It was that final question that really did it for me. My overwhelm in this wedding planning process, my frustrations with the change my own friends were experiencing, my anger that had led to gracelessness at their own lack of noticing my needs, at the heart of it has been that God has not been enough for me because I have not been allowing Him to be. He has been asking me to let Him love me and remind me of His truth, but I have been looking for fullness and truth from people before Him. I have been talking to people before I talk to God. I have been seeking provision from man and not trusting the great God who owns every cattle on the hills. Somewhere in the change, I lost my awe for and trust in God and I tried to find it in others.
In the midst of this, I’ve also failed to love my fellow body members. In stepping outside of God’s pool of love and overflow for me, I lost the source I needed to fill me with what all it would take to keep caring for my friends and for their spiritual, mental and physical well-being. I had concaved into myself and really put myself above others. I had really begun to believe the subtle lies that this season was about me and only about me, since it was my wedding. But the reality is that I’m never living for myself with myself. We are made for community. But community has one unique lane laid out by its founder, ordained for proper usage and that is always important to remember. God created community. Community is not God.
My challenge to you today is that if you find yourself drowning in the overwhelm of change and life:
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