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Choose Connection and Community

Having community and friendships has been incredibly important to me over the last 5 years.

While working alongside my ex in vocational ministry, friendship was a little hard to come by. It wasn’t that we didn’t have friends. We did, but it was usually limited to having friends who also worked in ministry or were part of the church in some way. The only friends we did have that were outside of ministry were the ones he and I grew up with either in high school or college. And even then, we didn’t see them often.

Isolated is the best word I can come up with when it comes to our community at the time.

It wasn’t what I wanted or envisioned, but I think that type of culture was created in our home out of a need to protect the family. That is what I want to believe, anyway.

Our kids rarely had any playdates. People hardly ever came into our home to hang out. We rarely went out with other couples.

When things began to crumble, especially our marriage, I realized just how isolated I was.

People did care. I don’t want to paint it as though people didn’t care. But they didn’t know what they didn’t know or how to truly pray for us and be there for us.

We had no community. It wasn’t fair to expect them to show up and offer themselves to us when we had spent a considerable amount of time shutting people out.

So I decided to get over myself a bit and allow people in.

I am slowly (very slowly. We are talking tortoise status slow) trying to view each individual I meet as an opportunity for a friendship and less as a threat to my safety and security of myself.

I am just not interested in being manipulated, controlled, lied to, or betrayed. Ever again. That being said, I need to get over my own ego and bit and realize that not every person I meet is trying to take advantage of me.

The struggle is real! Ha!

I made more of an effort to call my friends. I made more of an effort to have dinner dates and trips with them. I chose to listen more and open up more. The fear of heartache is still very real. Truth is, even if you do find connection with other people, rejection happens. Your feelings will get hurt. They may betray you. The friendship or relationship or that community may come to an end for whatever reason. You just have to realize that that is the possibility.

But you don’t have to shut people out and live in fear of them.

People are people. There are worse things that I can think of to live in fear about.

And I hate the idea of living in fear.

I figure, at this point in my life, I have lived out one of my worst case scenarios already. Rejection is just going to be a real possibility for me, especially IF I ever decide to remarry.

I do remember how isolated I felt when I was walking through the most gut wrenching season of my life. I don’t want to do that again. I want my people around me who will hold up my arms when I can’t hold them up anymore.

I want companions who will root me on. Who will encourage me to win and clap louder for me than anyone else in the room.

I want to be the biggest cheerleader and friend to my people.

I want to know my friends so deeply that I know how to be there when they need me to be. And vice versa.

But, that takes willingness on our own part to be a little braver. To be willing to get over ourselves and our fears and some of our traumas and not put that on another person because of what someone may have done to us.

I don’t want to miss out on rich, beautiful, encouraging, engaging, sustaining, empowering, life building community. No way. Never again.

I had been praying for community for a long time. And God has been faithful to provide the right people into my life.

Relationships, all of them, take work.

But to me, they are worth it. Community is worth it.

Being alone is nice for a little bit. Heck, I enjoy my alone time. I am an introvert and the alone time helps me to recharge and restore my batteries. But I believe isolation is the work of the enemy. If he can get us isolated and in fear of one another, he can continue the work of dividing us. Heck, all we have to do is look at what happened in 2020.

I just refuse to allow it to happen again. You and I should refuse that as well.

Get connected.

Grab your besties.

Engage with your partner or spouse.

Do things together.

Get over the damn fear of rejection. It May happen. That is life.

Live in the moment with your family. With your people.

Tomorrow is not promised. You may have to say goodbye to someone you love all of a sudden. We are nothing but temporary visitors on this earth. Until God calls me home, until whatever it is He is asking me to do is finished……

I am choosing to step in and be in the lives of people.

I am choosing friendship.

I am going to choose to love.

I am going to choose community, over and over again.

Everything else, I just can’t control.

But I am going to choose to go this way, anyway.

Tiffany Rhea

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