A Case for Community + Connection: As Essential as Ever

Investing in community intentionally and finding safe people and places has been so essential to my healing journey. It’s often easier to isolate ourselves out of insecurity but the courage to make connection is always worth the effort. Living with a chronic illness adds layers of difficulty in building community, one of the core things we need. Fear of rejection can paralyze us from pursuing deeper connections but shame is a lie and we all belong. Shame prevents us from showing up as ourselves. You are enough, you are worthy, and so loved. We have to come closer to experience authentic connection. Seek a strong social support system. Connecting with community is so crucial to good health. Seek safe people and environments. Create the community you want to be a part of. Don’t just sit around and wait for it to happen. Reach for it and seek it out. Take time to test the waters to find out those who are safe to trust and those that aren’t, but it is always worth it to dip your toes in and see. We all have different cups and capacities but we are always stronger when we stand together. Right now, that means doing community a little differently for a while. Get creative and continue pursuing community anyways. Let go of expectations and embrace what is. Call and connect with a friend. Get rooted in community and watch it grow.

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Community is…

Little reminders of tangible love. Sharing food and recipe ideas. Sharing your strengths and struggles. Messaging each other. Emailing. Old school snail mail. Embracing differences and diversity. Weakening stigma by finding strength in speaking up. Both moments of beauty and brokenness. Where messy moments happen. Being layered in love by blankets from friends. Apologizing and forgiving. Where humility is honored and our stories are held with open hearts. Brings out the best and worst in you. Where it’s safe to talk about the tough stuff. Where we learn to break down barriers and develop healthy boundaries. Where there’s conflict and some bumps in the road and sometimes you bump heads. Gifting and sharing plants. Letting people into your space and letting yourself be seen. Occasional conflict, hurt and disappointment. Serving each other and making sacred sacrifices. Where grace is gifted. Sharing garden goods. All of the everyday interactions we have with each other. Relationships must be cultivated, nurtured and maintained.  It’s awkward and vulnerable and messy sometimes. Sometimes community comes and goes with the seasons and can be a fragile and fickle thing that takes time to develop and maintain.

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Community is the people who are there for you through thick and thin. The people who remind you of your belovedness when you’re bruised and brokenhearted. The guys who turned a building project into a tiny cabin so I could have a place to call home when I left an abusive marriage, and giving me the opportunity to garden and grow food with them. The farmer’s faces every week who grow the food you eat. The friends that offer to come to court with you. The friends that help you with practical life stuff. The safe home base when you don’t have your own. The people who love you enough to tell you the truth in love. The people who make you know with every fiber of your being that you are not alone. The coworkers that are in your corner. The online groups with people who get and support you. The ones who hold you to stay true to yourself. The people you can talk about your pain and problems with. The people who break the silence with authentic belongingness. The people you pour into and the people who pour into you. The people you love out loud. The neighbors you learn to love by imperfectly practicing loving. The old friends you somewhat stay in touch with on social media. The clerks at the grocery store, gas station and laundromat you have conversations with. The thread holding you together when things are falling apart. The friends you FaceTime. The cousin you call and the others you keep in touch with in social media. The people who make you feel safe and seen. The people that hold space for you in your fullness. The people who remind you who you are when you forget your fire. The friends who become family and adopt you into theirs. The people who are hospitable in home and heart. The people you show up for and who show up for you. The people you share books with. The strangers who become friends. The people you pray for and the ones you know who actually pray for you. The therapist who has helped me grow so much. The lawyer who helped me file legal papers in exchange for trimming her roses. The friends you have meals and coffee dates with and the ones you’ve been meaning to get together with. The people who believe in who you are and build you up in love. The people we do life with. The relationships I’ve made from serving coffee in a small town for a few years. The mechanic who checked out my car for free and the Mobile Auto Repair company my friend hooked me up with. The gifts of love that bless us.

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Some Quotes: 

“To flourish, we must work with, not against, togetherness, and to prize togetherness, we must come out of isolation and be seen”. – Jessica Honegger

“Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody” -Unknown

“Everyone loves the idea of reconciliation… until it involves truthtelling, confessing, repenting, dismantling, forgiving, and peacemaking”. – Eugene Cho

“Go and love someone exactly how they are. And then watch how quickly they transform into the greatest, truest version of themselves. When one feels seen and appreciated in their own essence, one is instantly empowered”. – Wes Angelozzi

“Relationships come in packages of potential, not perfection” – Lysa Terkeurst

“Shame is a bully and grace is a shield” – Ann Voskamp

“Never love by halves, that’s not how anyone becomes whole” – Ann Voskamp

“The more fully we invite God in, the less we will feel uninvited by others. With Him, we are forever safe. Forever accepted. Forever held. Completely loved and always invited in”. – Lysa Terkeurst

“God measures our entire existence by only two things: How we love Him and how we love people” – Jen Hatmaker

“The opinions that we have don’t make a difference like the love that we give” – Ann Voskamp

“To know we belong, to know we matter, to know our worth in the world, even from a stranger – isn’t that what we all want?” – Sarah Jackson 

“The only way to intimacy is through the door of vulnerability” – Ann Voskamp 

“Criticism kills community. Compassion creates community.” – Ann Voskamp

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“It’s hard to navigate the waters of ego, pain, and pride. It’s hard to have a single honest relationship- easier to say ‘community’ from a stage, easier to be busy than known. We hurt each other. We let each other down”. – Jamie Tworkowski, If You Feel Too Much: Thoughts on Things Found and Lost and Hoped For

“Be loved. Be known. Love People and know people. Be so brave as to raise a  hand for help when you need it. Make friends and make sure they know they matter. Be loyal to them and fight for them. Remind them of what’s true and invite them to do the same when you forget. If you do some losing or you walk with someone else in their defeat, live with dignity and grace. It is a middle finger to the darkness”. – Jamie Tworkowski, If You Feel Too Much: Thoughts on Things Found and Lost and Hoped For

“We often ask God to show up. We pray prayers of rescue, perhaps God would ask us to be that rescue, to be His body, to move for things that matter. He is not invisible when we come alive… We are only asked to love, to offer hope to the many hopeless. We don’t get to choose all the endings, but we are asked to play the rescuers. We won’t solve all mysteries and our hearts will certainly break in such a vulnerable life, but it is the best way. We were made to be lovers bold in broken places, pouring ourselves out again and again until we’re called home”. – Jamie Tworkowski, If You Feel Too Much: Thoughts on Things Found and Lost and Hoped For

“I suppose since most of our hurt happens in relationships, so will our healing, and I know that grace rarely makes sense to those looking in from the outside”. – Paul Young, The Shack

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“As we share the parts of ourselves we would rather keep hidden, we learn our whole selves are welcome at the table… we become whole not through burying our brokenness but by welcoming our weakness. Wholeness doesn’t happen without the risk of your weakness being seen”. – kjramsey

“God made our brains to need others. In recent decades, attachment researchers and clinicians, like neuropsychiatrist Daniel Siegel and psychologist Louis Cozolino have been elucidating truth about our personhood grounded in how our brains and bodies develop and function: we are embodied, relational beings whose flourishing—from first to final breath—requires interdependence. As Siegel explains, ‘The brain is a social organ, and our relationships with one another are not a luxury but an essential nutrient for our survival. The Triune God, who is relationship, created us for relationships in bodies shaped by relationships. Psychologists like Warren Brown and Brad Strawn have integrated insights from neuroscience and cognitive psychology with theology to describe how faith is far more than an individual pursuit, possession, or process. The concept of social cognitive extension describes how our minds extend beyond our brains and are enhanced and strengthened by others. Our capacity to trust, hope, and love in want and in plenty is formed and sustained not merely by individual intelligence but through our embodied experiences in the Body of Christ…. 

God created our brains with an innate capacity to empathize with one another through the function of our mirror neurons, and sensing one another’s grief and joy in worship is a central way we can be formed to live as who God says we are: “Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it.” (1 Cor. 12:27, CSB) The truth of the gospel becomes sustained belief and felt experience not through hearing a sermon and applying it dutifully to our lives but through experiencing the physical presence of other believers, over and over, with us in both sorrow and joy….

When we suffer forsaken, unwanted, and unloved are written all over our neural pathways, but through taste, touch, smell, sight, and sound our minds can be rewritten as beloved. Through group practices and liturgies engaging our bodies’ senses, like communion, we together evoke and participate in the embodied reality of the kingdom of God. The more thoroughly and repeatedly we engage our senses in the rituals of worship together, the more our minds will be renewed to experience the life of the world to come as real, true, and for us. The ritual of communion offers us a means of being shaped by the reality of the kingdom even when it feels far from true”.

– kjramsey in her article Scripture and Neuroscience Agree: It Helps to Lament in Community

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“Cardiologists accept that inadequate social support is as much a risk factor for heart disease as the three traditional ones of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cigarette smoking. Many oncologists will say that if you have terminal cancer but strong social support, you will live, on average, twice as long as if you have weak social support… One model is that a lack of social support is inherently stressful. We need support from people around us. Another model is what we call the buffer model, which is, having strong social support protects you against stress. But it takes many forms. There’s emotional support, which is what most people think of as support. That’s the proverbial shoulder to cry on. There’s informational support; people you can go to, to get advice and information. But there’s also belonging support; a sense that you’re not an island, you’re part of a family, part of a community. And there’s esteem support, which is people who make you feel you have some value, some worth. And you need all those different forms of support.” 

-Paul Martin, Director of the Research School of Psychology at the Australian National University

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If you have anything left in you to keep reading, this article by kjramsey is worth it (or to save for later) :

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. gotnoceiling says:

    Love you, Kate! 🙂🌿🤍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ktbergthold says:

      Love you too Lori!❤️

      Like

  2. Maddie! says:

    Love all the pictures and the ways to appreciate community. I thought you would have to run out of examples but you even got to all the convos with service workers and I love that! That’s all I do at work most days and hope I can touch peoples loves in a positive way too. (:

    Liked by 1 person

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