It’s a place where you know each other’s hard, and you love one another even deeper for it. It’s a place of authenticity and forgiveness because it’s rare that you can have one without the other. It’s a place of being broken together which can’t be said about much else than humanity. It’s a place where serving grants a better – not bitter – attitude. It’s a place where you come empty and leave full even if you’ve been pouring out of your cup all day. It’s a place where you can wear your cowboy boots, Toms, Sperry’s, flip-flops, stilettos, and Converse.
It’s people that hold you accountable and know that a long-lived hug can make all the difference in the world.
It’s people that treasure your future and see your heart. It’s people that give up an evening to help a stranger move or that see the need before it’s spoken. It’s people that make you laugh until you cry, that cry with you, that stay awake tossing and turning if they know your heart is broken. It’s people that step up, out, over, under, and through if they believe in the good it can do. It’s people that pray endlessly and serve tirelessly. It’s people that never stop being real even for a second.
Sometimes it’s fall festivals with a life-size Candy Land made by the teenagers. Sometimes it’s church picnics hosted by a life group. Sometimes it’s Volunteer Appreciation Nights full of laughs and games. Sometimes it’s serving a local elementary school by handing out 100 backpacks with school supplies and sweating through every piece of clothing you’re wearing. After all…those that sweat together, smell together. Sometimes it’s loving on kiddos with pancakes, smiles, and gifts for the Angel Tree party. Sometimes it’s lock-ins, marriage enrichment nights, and late night talks with a life group. And, every week it is sausage biscuits to “feed His sheep.”
It’s a lot of things that are hard to put into words without getting emotional – like the shoulder to cry on when you’re at your worst, the wisdom you need when you’re stuck at a fork in the road, and the push you need toward your goal no matter what it is. It’s the place you want to be when you don’t feel like being anywhere at all. It sounds dreamy, but there’s also a lot of things that it’s not. It’s not a place where faith stands still. It’s not people that let you crumble when the mountains around you do. It’s not a time when hope falls to the wayside. It’s not people that hate you at your darkest. It’s a place where people comprehend that some times are hard – life isn’t always peaches and cream, mashed potatoes and gravy –
but there is ALWAYS a God that redeems, renews, rebuilds, restores, that counts the stars and knows them all by name, gives constant strength, forgives, and goes before us so that we may do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.
For me, it’s grace in trying times. It’s a place where I’ve seen my weaknesses and my strengths work together for the Lord. It’s support in my brokenness. It’s learning from the body of Christ that values everything I’ve written so far. It’s serving whole-heartedly together and doing life instead of just doing church. It’s a place that God used to renew my faith in what He had given me a passion for. It’s a place where children know – and exemplify greatly – that when God calls you, you say yes. It’s a place where you’re more likely to know someone’s hard before you even know their name – and that’s a good thing. It’s being part of something bigger – a church plant, a district, a country, a huge community of people connecting, growing, and sharing. It’s having the incredible opportunity to grow professionally and spiritually at the same time in the same place.
I’m a Connections Pastor at Real Life Community Church. It’s one of the ways that I spend my time. A year or so ago, I wrote about how I wasn’t looking for the perfect church. This church isn’t perfect at all, but it’s full of people that are growing together, experiencing imperfection together, and supporting each other through it all.