FYI: God Wants Your Joy
FYI: God doesn’t want you to be miserable in community.
Sticking it out through awful, harmful, potentially damaging community situations is not what God intends for you when we extol the virtues of community.
I think this is where so many of us get it wrong. We know that a thing is good, we know that God desires us to partake in it, and so we gut it out, hoping that someday we will be able to see where the good was.
Now I don’t want to devalue doing hard things and persevering and beautiful virtue building experiences like that, but I do want to make it clear: being miserable is not inherently virtuous.
Misery is not a fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Now I won’t go so far as to say that there aren’t virtuous people who are also on the miserable side, but thinking that they inexorably go hand-in-hand it’s really just another lie.
I say all this to say: if you are miserable in community, or historically always have been, God‘s not saying oh well, too bad, get back out there. God wants to sit with you and heal the wound so that you can then be free to enjoy the fullness of what He desires community to be for us.
And then, when we are likely hurt again, whether in community or not, we’re encouraged to go back - back to him. Start the process over. Allow him to minister to us wherever we are so that we stop being accustomed to living all of life from that hurt place.
I return over and over again to the parent child metaphor of our relationship with God because there’s just so much good stuff there. I think it’s so fitting in this scenario as well: our kids play outside with their friends. They get hurt. They come to us every time, asking for help, consolation, maybe a Band-Aid.
And then they go back out.
There’s a sense that being hurt is not the constant state of affairs, but it’s also not totally unexpected, and they know what to do when it happens.
I like to think that that’s how God is inviting us to live, not just in community, but in all of life: going out, doing what's in front of us, and coming back to him when we get hurt - quickly, vulnerably, expecting Him to make it better.
And then we're free to keep playing in joy, because we're free to do so.
That's what God has for us.