by Carol Eliya
Community is essential. We are made for it. I didn’t realize this until I moved away from everyone and everything I knew and was alone in a new city. Up to that point, I thought I could do anything alone in my own strength. That theory was quickly proven false when everything I did to build a life in San Diego failed and I was trapped and lost in the misery of my burdens alone. But that’s when I finally realized God’s mercy and grace, and it shook me up. He changed my world.
Soon after, I discovered Maker’s church. It was my first experience at a young, “cool”, artsy church and I had no idea churches like that could even exist. I was amazed and intrigued and wanted to keep coming back for more, despite feeling slightly awkward showing up alone when it seemed like everyone else knew each other. I was encouraged by how friendly everyone was, but I still felt like I barely knew anyone. I craved some sort of gathering beyond Sunday church service.
That fall I saw the Makers emails for community groups sign ups. I was so excited when I saw the email that I decided I would go to every community group that I could. I worked nights in a restaurant, so my work schedule wasn’t consistent causing me to do a lot of community group hopping. I loved being open and vulnerable with people, but I still didn’t truly get to know people because of my inability to be consistent. Sometimes I felt disheartened because I was no longer the new girl at church, but I still didn’t fully feel like a part of the community. But I didn’t give up. When the next round of community groups opened I decided I was going to make it a priority to be consistent this time. I even adjusted my work schedule around them. At first, tt seemed a bit counter-intuitive to arrange my work around church and community groups- but it made an immense difference in my happiness, peace, stress-level, and overall relationship with God.
I made connections that went beyond just the Tuesday or Wednesday nights. Being consistent and intentional made a world of difference. I can now see how growing together with others in God is how He made us to be. We’re not meant to do it alone. Or just on Sundays. It’s not supposed to be an afterthought or a convenience – it should be a priority. We’re supposed to be others-focused but a lot of the time work and life simply gets in the way. But there’s a slippery slope of letting work and busyness be an excuse to skip out on community. God will not punish you for wanting to do less work to spend time in fellowship. Quite the contrary, He will actually bless you.
My women’s group supported my abrupt decision to uproot my amazing life in San Diego to go to Mexico to do a Discipleship Training School. It was an exciting, but also difficult decision to make that came with many obstacles, and without their encouragement and support, I don’t know if I’d be here now. When my own family didn’t support me, they did. This is the power and beauty of true community.
*To sign up for a Spring Community Group today, go to www.makerschurch.org/community-groups!