I owe my Christian friends an apology

LTN Blog, Personal Growth, Spiritual Formation, Team Member Blog 2 Comments

At Love Thy Neighborhood, in addition to our community outreach and work, we spend part of our week reading books and listening to podcasts about various subjects related to ministry and Christian discipleship. Community is a vital part of LTN life, so we read about it often. We just finished reading and discussing Life in Community by Dustin Willis. I’ll admit that I (and several of my teammates) weren’t all that excited about reading another book on community.

However, Life in Community created deep conversations on relationships and challenged us to be vulnerable with each other. I especially felt challenged about the way I have engaged in community and relationships throughout my life.

The thing is, I’m not good at community. It’s messy and exhausting and often more selfless than I’d like to be. But worst of all, community is vulnerable. It’s impossible to build a community with people who always say “I’m fine!” or “I’m tired/stressed/confused but don’t worry about me, I’ll be okay.”

Community is built when people say, “I need help with this” and “Will you pray for me about this problem?”

People in community ask for help and admit their weaknesses. I hate that. I don’t want share my problems or admit I can’t function without others. With anxiety disorders and frequent battles with depression, I’ve built walls sky-high around myself so that others can’t get in and make things worse. I stamped out my desire to share my life, the good and bad, with others. I learned to survive on pleasantries and Sunday morning side-hugs. I could go deep with a few people, but froze and retreated at the idea of sharing with a group.

What I am good at, though, is taking care of others. It’s a bit ironic that the girl who refuses to share her own problems is so keen on helping others with theirs.

 I’ve always accepted the fact that most people need relationships and community to survive and function. However, I personally didn’t need those things. 

I’ve always accepted the fact that most people need relationships and community to survive and function. However, I personally didn’t need those things.I am more than willing to give hugs and prayers, or squeeze a hand while someone confronts an overwhelming problem. But I would never admit that I desperately needed those things too. I could ask for prayer, but I would never ask for someone to hug me, or hold my hand as I struggled to confess my sin, or beg the Lord for peace. I was too strong, and had protected myself too well to allow myself that kind of emotional exposure.

Community was an intellectual study— a human phenomenon for me to watch from the outside— not something for me to participate in. But God called me out through His word.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

I moved into a house with eleven girls and was forced to spill out my messy, solitary life story on our third day together and they spilled out theirs. I tried to keep my distance, even after sharing all of my story with them.

I moved into a house with eleven girls and was forced to spill out my messy, solitary life story on our third day together and they spilled out theirs. I tried to keep my distance, even after sharing all of my story with them. 

We were serving in a highly emotional, exhausting, and tightly-knit program, but I still thought I didn’t need the support of my housemates to make it through the tough moments.

Until I did.

I found myself needing to tell my housemates that I was struggling to get over a relationship that was dragging me away from my ministry and that I needed them to pray with me. I needed to have them as close to me as possible because some of the demons of my past had become too strong for me to fight alone.

My housemates learned to call me out when I was lying about how anxious or depressed I was feeling and they sit with me through the bad days. I resisted their help but I’ve found their support makes my struggles much more manageable.

Because of this intense experience of community, I learned I’ve short-changed so many close friends by making myself a person they need and not needing them back. Community is give and take, not just give.

All this to say, I owe my friends and my brothers and sisters in Christ an apology.  I’m sorry for pushing you away from me because of my fear. I’m sorry for limiting your engagement in community by not allowing you to give to me.

LTN has shown me that life is much sweeter when lived vulnerably with other people. Push beyond your boundaries to build community. It will be challenging, but worth it.

Brittany Baumli is from Kansas City, KS. and made an impact by serving with Nonprofit Leadership track during the summer of 2017. She currently attends the University of Kansas where she is studying English. 

Comments 2

  1. Thanks for this, Brittany! I struggle with just coming out and saying, “will you sit with me and listen?” etc. as well. Your story helps me want to be a little more forthright about my neediness to my sisters and brothers in Christ.

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