Finding intentional, vulnerable, and consistent community can be a scary thought. In Florida, I have an authentic Christian community. Most of these friends are from Cru, a college ministry at USF, or my church. But this summer I will be leaving my community in Florida and moving to Pittsburgh to attend Pittsburgh Theological Seminary for my masters degree. I’m incredibly sad to leave the people in Florida who have shown me God’s love, forgiveness, and grace over and over again.
In Lean On Me, Anne Marie Miller describes how important it is to find intentional, vulnerable, and consistent community. Anne was going through a dark time and desperately needed that community. In her book, she shares her story of how community brought her out of darkness and into God’s light. After a year of healing through her community, she moved to another new place where she had to search for authentic friendships all over again.
As sad as I am to leave Florida, I also fear leaving the community that I have formed. I won’t forget the nights my roommate Alex and I sat in her room and laughed, cried, studied scripture, and prayed for each other. I won’t forget the multiple times my friend Becky saw the pains and sins inside my heart and yet still loved me. These are just two of the many friends I have in Florida who know me inside and out, still love me, and always provide Biblical truth in every situation.
I believe one thing makes this community different from any other I’ve experienced – they love Jesus. These friends don’t just go to church on Sunday, they have given Jesus their whole life. Every decision they make revolves around Jesus. They long to obey him because they have fallen in love with him. Because they have experienced Jesus’ love, they can love me. I fear not having these friendships by my side when I move, but reading Lean On Me happened at the perfect time in my life.Each time Anne moved, she trusted that God would bring her more authentic friendships. And God did just that. She found friends in church, school, and at the local coffee shop. They seemed to pop up everywhere.
I realized that my fear stems from a lack of trusting God. In her book, Anne’s friend suggests that she make a list of everything she fears – the people who hurt her or could hurt her, situations that scare her, the future, anything and everything she feared. I made a list and I suggest you do it too.
My fears revealed the root issue – I don’t trust God. One of my fears was not finding authentic Christian community in Pittsburgh. Now, even though I don’t move for months, I’m starting to pray for friends in my classes who are pursuing Jesus with everything. I’m praying that I find a church near my apartment that is Bible focused and desires to have authentic community within it’s members.
If you are lacking Christian community, join me in praying to God that he would give us these friendships. God never wanted you to be alone. He lives in perfect community with himself, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. If God needed community, then we definitely need community.
We all need a place to belong. Let’s trust God with this desire in our hearts.
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I received this copy of Lean On Me for free from Book Look Bloggers in exchange for this review.