Why Community Matters: Confessions of an Introvert

 
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I grew up thinking I was an extreme introvert. Much of my life, I used the “introvert card” to escape situations where I had to be vulnerable in group settings. Only after God took me on an intense journey of restoration did I begin to look forward to spending time with people. Healing began as God led me to open myself up to others. I realized I often confuse my introvert needs for “personal space" with a tendency towards isolation. I often distanced myself from others in fear of getting hurt or misunderstood. My mind grew accustomed to negative thoughts centered on lies that nobody cares for or would ever be able to understand me. I recognized past wounds and disappointments with former friends which left me with trust issues, bitterness and fear that did not permit me to walk in community. It was through relationships built on God’s love and forgiveness that I was restored to a place of wholeness where I can now walk in trust, commitment and confidence in God and those around me.

To be clear, we all have different personalities. Some people are more reserved. Others are more  outgoing. Yet, our individual differences should never result in us living in isolation. We were made to live in community; in relationship and trust with one another. Walking in community is a genuine mark of a believer as we live to fulfill the two greatest commandments: love God and love others (Matt. 22:36-40). In Acts, after the believers received the Holy Spirit, they shared everything they had with one another and "ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God...” (Acts 2:46-47). There was a joy evident in the believers as they gathered and shared their lives with one another everyday. This same heart of joy and gratitude should be present in our lives as we live in community with one another.

If you find yourself struggling with isolation, past pains and loneliness:

Find a community. This doesn’t mean we find a perfect community. Find a community, whether a group of friends or local church, that genuinely loves Jesus. All too often, we let ourselves simmer in our past hurts and bitterness. We construct walls around our hearts impossible for anyone to climb or break down. If we want to be healed, we must be willing to let our guards down and be vulnerable with those around us. Chances are, we’ll be disappointed and hurt again. But that should not stop us from seeking out community. People are messy, but we are who Christ came for. We have to let go of our expectations for others to perfectly meet our needs. Instead, we ought to embrace the truth that only Christ is perfect. Only He will never disappoint.

Commit to a community. Wounds take time to heal. Sins, struggles and hurts do not disappear overnight. God’s truth is made manifest in our lives as we walk together with people around us. It is only in community that we can experience true healing that comes from the confession of hidden sins, struggles and insecurities that are brought to light (1 Jn. 1:5-7, Jms 5:16). The more time we spend with other people, we learn to trust one another despite our imperfections. We learn to empathize, to respect different opinions, to share our hearts, to forgive mistakes and sins. We learn to communicate and express our thoughts. In this process, we experience the freedom of no longer having to mask our sins, failures and imperfections. Although no community is perfect, it is important to commit to a Christ-centered community so your relationships grow deeper with time as you choose to partake in the process of being vulnerable and embraced by those around you (Eph. 4:31-32).

Grow in community. God doesn’t want us to just confess, but He wants us to mature spiritually as we serve one another from a place of wholeness. Christ exemplified this truth when He humbled himself upon the cross. By His wounds, we are healed (1 Peter 2:24). This means we are renewed and restored because Christ first served us through his life, sufferings, death, and resurrection. In the same way, our lives are not simply meant for our own pleasure but to bless others as we strive to be more like Christ. Scripture says we should continue to meet one another and spur each other on to do good works (Heb. 10:24-25). We need to recognize that we cannot advance God’s kingdom without one another. We are one body with Christ as the head (Col 1:18). Each part of the body is important to the functioning of the entire body (1 Cor. 12:12). We need each other.

Today, I want to encourage you to take some time to reflect if you have been isolating or distancing yourself from others because of past hurts and disappointments. Prayerfully reach out to those around you so that you can walk in community, the way that God has designed us to.


Andrea Chung is a wife, mother, and on staff with The Meeting Place TMP. She attended University of California, Davis where she studied Sociology. She furthered her education at UCLA where she received a M.A. and Ph.D. in Comparative Education. 

 
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