Mindy Braun has been attending Redwood Covenant since Spring 2008. She is currently serving once a month in Redwood Kids as a helper and also is one of the Guides for Walkabout Community Group. She has been married to her best friend, Lyndon, for 19 years and has three boys. When she’s not homeschooling, you can usually find her in the garden or out in nature somehow.
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset at Christ Jesus. — Philippians 2:1–5
Community. It seems people are desperate for it, yet it is hard to come by. I know as an introvert, it is easy for me to convince myself I don’t really need it. It takes too much time and energy to invest in it. I’m fine on my own, right?
I confess it is humbling to say that yes, I do need community. I need others to give me a larger perspective of who God is. I do not carry the full expression of God on my own. I was never meant to. In addition to this, the community will lack what only I can bring if I decide not to “show up.”
In the New Living Translation, the word “wholeheartedly “ is used in the Scripture above. It made me think of Brené Brown’s concept of being wholehearted. Showing up – being real, being vulnerable. Here are some quotes from her book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” “Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” “Wholeheartedness. There are many tenets of Wholeheartedness, but at its very core is vulnerability and worthiness; facing uncertainty, exposure, and emotional risks, and knowing that I am enough.”
It is a courageous thing to show up to a gathering being vulnerable. If you try to participate any other way, community will be hard to experience. I have to say that as I show up and let myself really be seen, I find that I am welcomed and I find that I belong.
Earlier I used the word investment, and it was not an accident. Our family was recently reminded of the value of being in community. My husband was laid off without notice or severance. It was a huge shock to our single-income family. It was simply wonderful to have our community surround us with prayer and encouragement. We were not alone. We experienced the hope that comes from knowing that we were not walking this scary road alone. There were others that had been in our shoes before. There were others that were moved to pray daily. What a treasure to experience the community we had invested in. Praise God that scary road didn’t last too long.
It is also a treasure to experience the other side – to be the blessing to someone else. Each one of us has a gift to bring, a smile, a listening ear, laughter, understanding. Be courageous. Be vulnerable. Find a group to “show up” in. Discover the beauty of community. It’s worth the investment.