contemplating community & becoming a beautiful mess

In the past 9 months, I have slept in nearly 30 different spaces spread out over four countries and three states. Planes, buses, futons, sleeping bags, cement floors, guest bedrooms, bunk beds, airports, teepees (okay…just one teepee).  Over the past 5 years, I’ve stayed in seven different countries, functioned in four temporary communities (by design), and called six different structures home for at least 3 months – 2 years being my longest residence.

And I’m tired. Because change can be exhausting. And I feel like all I’ve done is live in transition. Which has left me worn out and wondering, more than ever, what community is really all about.

I wouldn’t trade the opportunities I’ve had over the past few years for any amount of money. I have loved every minute of this crazy, unpredictable adventure with my Best Friend. And even when the experiences have alienated, drained, confused, and intimidated me, I could still taste and see the goodness and provision of God in my circumstances. (Though, I will admit that sometimes, the revelations of His constant care came hindsight.)

And now I’m in Denver. A place that God has so clearly called me and established as my home for at least the next years and at most, until He calls me elsewhere. I love Colorado. It has been my favorite destination since I was a kid. But as I am getting settled in and trying to find my way in this new home (which, by the way, is a word that I have learned to apply to any place that I live for more than a month…adaptability grows with practice 😉 ), I am realizing that the longing for community and belonging is something that will never be fully satisfied until we reach the shores of Heaven. Because that is the place and community that we were designed to dwell within.

So where does that leave me now? With a heart burning to know and be known and a passion for people and their stories, weaknesses, brokenness and deep yearnings for redemption?

Sometimes it leaves me vulnerable. Vulnerable to heartbreak, unhealthy relationships in which I try to substitute the love and affirmation of another person for the all-satisfying love of God, disappointment, physical vices to fill a spiritual void. Sometimes it leaves me lonely and wanting. Sometimes it leaves me fearful that I will never be fully known, loved, or appreciated on this side of Heaven. Sometimes it leaves me discouraged and depressed.

But sometimes it leaves me hoping. Hoping that Jesus will take me by surprise again – that just as He has taken me by the hand and kept me throughout this remarkable journey on earth, He will take me by the hand again, here in Colorado, where He has planted me for such a time as this. Hoping that just as He has satisfied the deep places of my heart when I have felt isolated in foreign countries, He will satisfy the deep longings of my heart here in Denver. And once I am satisfied in Him, I believe He will bring the right people into my life who will become my daily community.

Sometimes this longing to be known and this craving for community brings me to my knees, on my face, shaking with sobs in an empty room with an unseen God watching over me. And I can be weak and let Him be strong. Because I am. And He is. And the best part of me is Him. Always. Forever.

And there is something beautiful in the real, the raw, the messy. When we get our hands dirty in the beautiful mess of life and try to untangle the strands that have gotten muddled together in the ups and downs of our respective journeys, that is when life happens. And when I let you into my mess and my raw emotion and my struggles and my wrestling and when you let me into yours, that is when life happens together.

I have this goal in this new chapter called living in Colorado. And it’s this: to live simply and to embrace the mess, confusion, and adventure with honesty, integrity, authenticity, transparency, and intentionality.

But before I can be honest with others, I have to be honest with myself. And when I’m honest with myself, then I can have honest conversations with God which will impact my conversations in community. Only then can I live a life of authenticity and transparency which will foster an organic community of men and women who can walk with me and hold me accountable to integrity and intentionality.

So I’m ready to have some ideas, habits, and preconceived notions uprooted so God can plant some fresh seeds into the soil of my life. And though there are still many unknowns and though the longings for the kind of intentional community I’ve experienced in past seasons remains, I can see hints of my sovereign Lord working all things together for my good.

And though I know that much of what God does for us is behind the scenes and we will never fully know the depth of how He is working on our behalf, I know that He is working on my behalf. Because He brought me here miraculously and quickly, yet with great care and precision. He is the God of the details.

And as I pray to see the big picture and aspire to rejoice in the BIGNESS of who God is and how this adventure fits into the grand story of God’s story, I know that He will replenish what has been taken, breathe life into the desert places of my soul, and grant me the community I need to thrive in this season.

So I am thanking Him for what is behind and all that is before. And I’m thanking Him for the freedom to be real and raw and at rest as I watch this journey unfold.

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