If you’ve been a Faithful Provisions reader for a while, you know that I have gone through times in my life when I have struggled with having joy. What I’ve realized is that when I get busy, I pull myself out of community, isolating myself with all I have to do, and losing my joy.
I know exactly how this happens: When my life gets busy, I turn my focus to accomplishment and getting things done. I focus on my to-do list, and so my relationships get put on hold. In doing so, I withdraw from my sisters in Christ, who really add so much to my life and contribute greatly to making my life joyful. I might get a lot of things done, but ultimately, I only hurt myself by being out of community. I am an extrovert. I get my energy from other people, and I know that. Not everyone is an extrovert, but the truth is, God has created us for relationship. Relationship with Him, first and foremost, and relationship with others. We are not to be alone. That’s why we have community, and why we go to church.
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. (Hebrews 10:25)
God knows that we will grow and thrive in a supportive, encouraging community. We get involved with others in order to share our burdens (lightening our load) and share our happiness (multiplying our joy).
I was never more aware of the importance of community and the joy found in relationship than when my dad got sick a couple of months ago.
But the community that I am so lucky to have rallied around me! They prayed with me and for me, took care of my children, brought food to my family–I can’t imagine how I would have ever gotten through those difficult weeks if I had not been in church and in a supportive community of believers. I just wouldn’t have gotten through it. They loved me like Jesus throughout the whole ordeal, unconditionally. They were His hands and feet extended to me, showering me with love.
Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. (Romans 12:10)
My friends Kim and Melanie in particular, took my kids so I could spend many long days and nights at the hospital. They never made me feel guilty or like it was an imposition. Multiple women friends brought food and constantly prayed and sent encouraging messages exactly when I needed to hear them.
I’ve seen clearly now that when life gets busy, I don’t need to “batten down the hatches” and focus in. Honestly, during those times when there is so much to do, I continually feel overwhelmed and like I will never get enough done. I need to reach out! That’s where my joy is. I need to lay it all at the foot of the Cross and let him show me what he wants me to do. It’s in faithfully serving others just as they have served me. It is loving people first, and doing things later.
Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. (Philippians 2:4)
I want to encourage you that if you are between churches right now, or if you’re not in a fellowship group of some kind, pray about it and begin seeking community today.
Are you in a community of believers–a small group, a church, or a Bible study class? What do you love about it, and why would you encourage others to get involved in one?