Community: Outside Your Comfort Zone

lyrics for life

There are basically two ways to get community:

  1. You step out of your comfort zone and into someone else’s.
  2. You wait for someone else to leave their comfort zone and step into yours.

One Saturday in late April, five beautifully brave women and two toddlers stepped out of their comfort zones and into my home, while I stepped out of my comfort zone and hosted an (in) Real Life Conference.

What is the (in)Real Life Conference or (in)RL, you may ask? The conference that comes to you, the women behind (in)courage.me host a webcast on the last weekend in April and encourage women to meet together in homes across the country.

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The discussion centered around community and learning to tell your story. It’s an amazing thing that by one person opening up and sharing part of their story, others find the freedom to do the same. We end up in closer, more honest, community as a result. Through the course of the that Saturday, the six of us were able to share parts of our stories with each other. Even though I knew all the women on varying levels, I was thrilled to learn something new about each one of them as we shared.

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Earlier in April, my friend, Brooke, led a women’s training session for our church. She shared a great article by Paul Tripp that fit so well with the conference. In Who Knows You?, Tripp talks about two character qualities to shape your life by:

COURAGE OF LOVING HONESTY. “You will want relationships where truth can be spoken, where honesty lives, and where candor thrives. Truth should be spoken in love (Ephesians 4:15), but you won’t be afraid of what will be revealed about your heart and life.”

HUMILITY OF APPROACHABILITY. “When sins and weaknesses and failures are revealed about you, you won’t rise to your own defense. You won’t summon your inner defense lawyer and try to argue for your own righteousness. You will admit your need for help and run to where help can be found – Jesus Christ and the promise of a new heart.”

I highly recommend you read the whole article.

Don’t wait for someone else to break out of their comfort zone. Make the first step. Grab that courage and humility and dive into life where you can share your story and get to know someone else’s.

What can you do to build a deeper relationship with someone around you? What would be the first step to breaking out of your comfort zone?

**Thanks to a gracious host gift from Dayspring, I was able to offer these gorgeous Lyrics for Life plaques as giveaways to the women who attended the (in)RL Conference in my home. **

 

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Why I Get Excited about the True/False Film Fest

Poster created by artist Akiko Stehrenberger with art direction by veteran T/F collaborator, Erik Buckham. More of Akiko’s work will be on display at Uprise Bakery during the festival, with 10% of the sales going towards the True Life Fund.

Columbia is about to explode with the True/False Film Fest, a documentary film festival, beginning Thursday evening through Sunday, March 2. It’s one of my favorite things about this city. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll probably see a lot of T/F posts in the next few days.

Tom and I had the privilege to be Juggernaut Volunteers for 3 years, beginning in 2010. It was a purposeful decision, prompted by one of our elders at Karis Church, to be involved in the life of our city, by giving of our time and energy to support the welfare of the city. Prior to volunteering, we essentially avoided downtown during the Fest due to heavy traffic and crowds of people.

We just weren’t documentary people.

Wow. We have so changed since then.

After having missed last year due to a work conflict, we are so excited to be back this year as both passholders and sponsors of True/False. We love the crowds, because it’s a community. Standing in line, you compare notes with total strangers about the films, the buskers, the restaurants, and the parties. Everyone you rub shoulders with during the Fest has a great story to share about how they were touched by a documentary they just watched. I love hearing the passion in the directors’ voices as they share how they were led to create their documentary. It’s a thrill to be part of an interactive crowd whose emotions audibly follow the highs and lows of each film.

I mentioned that our involvement was very intentional. Along with friends of ours, we didn’t want to be Christians who stayed in our secure little corner, only touched by and touching the lives of other safe Christians. Tom summed it up so well in his blog post from our first year’s experience:

“…we, as Karis, are located in the downtown area and we feel a close connection and a real love for our City, and when you love something you want to serve it, and serve it well. So what a better opportunity to serve our City by serving at the Festival.

I didn’t really understand the importance of this, or really even think about it, until early Sunday morning. I volunteered to make a couple of airport runs during the festival along with serving on Rob’s team. I got to pick up a film director in St. Louis on Friday evening and I got to take a festival celebrity to Kansas City Sunday morning. So, at 5:15 am on Sunday, I picked up Jonathan at the hotel so he could make his 8:30 am flight to Los Angeles. When he got in my car he immediately thanked me for volunteering to drive him two hours one way at 5am. Then he asked me, “How did you get involved with True/False and why are you doing it?” So I told him about Karis Church and the “Rob Squad.” I told him that we were a group of people who loved Columbia and we just wanted to be there to serve our City. His response was probably one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard. At first he just sat there with his mouth wide open. Then he said, “You mean a church is out doing practical things and serving a film festival? No f*****g way! Whoops, I guess I shouldn’t cuss in front of you!” He then went on to tell me about Los Angeles where he lives and how churches there are so self-focused and that there was no way any church there would ever do what we were doing. Now who knows if that is really true, but that is at least his perception. Then he thanked me for being part of a church who was not afraid to step out of our own little comfortable box (Not his exact words, but that was what he said in a nutshell).”

Don’t you love it?

Last week, we were thrilled to hear that the NY Times ran an article about True/False and its partnership with a local church, The Crossing, which also seeks to invest in the community around it. You can read that article here, along with a thoughtful response from The Crossing’s pastor, Dave Cover, here.

I’m excited to live in a community that not only hosts festivals like True/False, but also consists of Christians and churches who are willing to roll up their shirt sleeves and get involved, for the good of the city.

Altogether Separate

fall leavesI always thought that growing up meant you no longer felt left out, the misfit, alone.

Altogether Separate.

That’s the phrase my husband and some friends used to tell the waitstaff when 20 or so of us would go out to eat. Are we together or separate? Altogether separate.

That’s how I feel today. Right or wrong (and I almost didn’t post because it feels wrong).

I had dinner with a group of gals from church. From my Missional Community. The name implies we should be best of buds.

I felt altogether separate from them most of the evening.

The FMFparty was delayed. Because a huge group of fmf-ers are at Allume and were having a FMF live party. I sat altogether alone in my dining room, refreshing Twitter for the prompt. Altogether separate.

I always thought that growing up meant you no longer felt left out.

Some of this is my fault. I’m not an outgoing person. It’s hard for me to engage someone in conversation when I don’t know them or feel comfortable with them.

Some of the fault is mine. I withdraw because I’m comparing myself to the beautiful faces around the table, representing young, talented, thin, pregnant, motherly, energetic, creative, outgoing, strong, successful women.

I can’t compete with that. The same as I can’t afford a conference ticket and even if I could, would I dare to walk up to a stranger and welcome her? If I had been in that live party tonight would I have felt a part of the togetherness that I saw in twitpics and instagram photos?

This post doesn’t have the cutesy wrap-up, the illustration that makes you leave with a smile. Growing up only brings out new ways to feel alone that I never could have imagined as a child. In some ways they hurt more because there’s no promise of rosy tomorrows to brighten today’s clouds.

Nope, tonight there’s no cheery ending. Tomorrow, I may not compare myself to others. I may be content, trusting in who God has made me to be and resting in his plan for my life. But I might still feel alone come Sunday morning, when once again I can’t quite figure out how to break into a circle of girls laughing together.

Fall trees

To publish or to trash? That is the question.

I picture different people I know who might read this. What would their reactions be? My mom, my pastor, a friend… This is a peek into me. But it’s the one that we’re not supposed to show – especially in church. It’s the one that people say they want to see, but when it comes down to it, that’s not really what they meant. There are a few people who most likely will avoid me after reading this. I can picture them. I can also see a few similarly lonely people like myself. This might be encouraging to them.

Ah, it’s only the internet. Why not? 🙂

(This post is part of Five Minute Friday, hosted by Lisa Jo Baker. This week’s prompt is “together.”)

Update: I added a follow-up post of truths we should rest upon.

A little intro to The Wall Around Your Heart

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Mary DeMuth’s latest book, The Wall Around Your Heart, is set to release in October, but I can’t wait ’til then to tell you a little about it. In my very limited spare time, I’ve been eagerly devouring an advance electronic copy and I’ve got to tell you – it is so good.

Hard, too, though. There are some challenging parts, oh yes. My first clue was the promo video, when Mary says, “the very community that breaks you is the avenue by which God heals you.” Oy.

Community is hard. We, in Karis, often say community is messy. But there’s good in the mess, there’s joy and comfort, and fellowship. I like how Mary says to view the difficulty in community as gifts:

When we have difficult relationships, God often uses them as gifts in our lives—to shape us, conform us to His Son, and make us gutsier and stronger.

We can be thankful for these gifts that God has given us. Here’s to staying in community and working through the tough things together. Here’s to being gutsier and stronger!

I’m looking forward to sharing more about The Wall Around Your Heart as I get further into it. Stay tuned!

 

  • Hi, I'm Janice. I'm part bookworm and part creative. I love both science and music (and the science of music). I'm stumbling around trying to grow closer to God. Click the photo to read more about me.

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