Part II- Areas of Hidden Grace in Community
Updated: Mar 16
The God Who Heals & Delivers in a Thousand Different Ways Part II
How we bond together can take on many different looks. As we let others into the private parts of ourselves, we can experience healthy and unhealthy attachments, both of which come from forming community with others. It is important to keep in mind that our deepest need for attachment is actually based on our essence, founded in the character of God (Psalms 139:16).
Building out a sense of family takes intentionality, and a willingness to embrace the variety of ways in which relationships can be used to strengthen our place of belonging, validation, acceptance, understanding, vulnerability and welcome. Family takes time to develop and requires that we embrace both joy and pain along the way.
Attachments of a healthy nature build a bridge of trust where others are safe to be themselves alongside you. The bonds that connect a bridge of trust are joined together, one by one, a plank at a time, one choice after another.
Moses was placed in such a position, in Exodus 17. No way were the Israelites ready to fight the Amalekites, yet there they were. That battle would be primarily fought by God Himself, but not without a little help from some friends - Joshua, Aaron, and Hur.
How does that look today?
Let’s take John (not his real name): he came from an abusive childhood where he was passed around like a hot potato from one family member to another. His mother wasn’t available much, as she had ‘her own problems.’ John, in her eyes, seemed like just one more of those problems. When John was just 3 years old, his dad left the family, and John quickly found ways to fend for himself. As a young man, John came to know the Lord Jesus as his Savior, and it was easy for him to just add Jesus like another trophy on the shelf of his growing number of successes. He was quite an accomplished adult; but when it came to relationships, not so much.
Finding his highest value in those moments of success, John discovered repeated patterns where attention was given him because of his vast knowledge. Most often John was showered with accolades from noteworthy leaders, and his heart would swell with a sense of acceptance from those with whom he could agree. Where it got uncomfortable is when conversations seemed to bring a different viewpoint or a challenge to what John believed as ‘right’. He would avidly avoid any such negative experience which might lead towards a painful challenge by one or more who did not agree with his views.
All his life it had seemed to John that he had to prove his worth to someone in order to be valued for his existence. Repeatedly, he found himself seeking to please someone else’s needs, or on the opposite end of the spectrum, defending his positions and beliefs to the point of cutting off relationships rather than facing the pain of reconciling differences.
What John was missing was the grace which community is designed by God to bring to one another. In John’s example, he could receive others only if they conformed to what he considered ‘right.’ And when things inevitably went south, it would become impossible to stick around. He would sense others’ discomfort and feel trapped in the resignation to either become a doormat for whatever the other person wanted, or to exit the relationship altogether. When we are not able to hear and receive corrections, we will develop offenses. John found it very, very hard to deal with close relationships.
Why is community key for John’s story? John Sandford once said, “We are wounded in relationship, and we are to be healed in relationship.”
Relationships start with recognizing our own limited viewpoint and any areas of woundedness which may be blocking our true identity. These triggering areas relate to unresolved trauma and can be difficult to see, especially when they involve a lack of nurture from our childhood. However, such blockages build a false refuge through which we filter our view of others, ourselves, and even God.
Part of God’s plan of restoration includes community - to help us break through unhealthy attachments of the past and come to see our true value based on God’s grid, not our own. Sometimes this takes moments when a direct word from someone in our community is necessary, so that we can come to recognize these areas where God is trying to get our attention.
Who have you allowed into your community? And what is God trying to communicate to you through your interactions with others?