community is a treasure

Community is a treasure

God has been doing some reordering of my priorities, so I’ve been thinking a lot about busyness.

We spent precious time with friends and family on our vacation, so I’ve been thinking a lot about community.

A National Treasure 1 & 2 marathon may or may not have happened over the weekend, so I’ve been thinking a lot about treasure.

Lord, let the way I invest my time reflect the things I hold most dear.

Further Reading:

Did community leave with the pews?

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I can just imagine what they looked like brand new. The deep brown wood shiny under the lights. The curved arms on each side smooth and supple. The faint vertical grain stretching feet after feet, interrupted only by the mini shelves built to hold a slim Bible. Even when they weren’t brand new, they were beautiful.

My earliest memories of Big Church were anchored by the pews in our stone church. The rows created by their solid forms were familiar. For the first half hour of the early service, I got to be nestled next to my mom and brother on top of that worn blue padding. I got to squeeze past my Grampy, who always occupied the aisle end of our pew, when the children were sent off to Sunday school after worship.

I spent lots of time in those pews. I sang the words printed on the bulletin insert gustily with the rest of the congregation on Sunday mornings. I wore my AWANA vest proudly on Wednesday nights with the rest of my Sparky comrades. I stole frequent glances at my jr. high crush and wrote notes back and forth with my best friend at youth group. I helped my wedding coordinator mom attach tulle and flowers to each Many ages and stages of life made their temporary home on those pews – listening, talking, ignoring, learning, wondering, and waiting.

I can’t remember when our church made the transition, when we bought poofy, interlocking chairs to replace the pews. But one week, they were gone. Our family took one of the pews home and with some reconstructive surgery, it became a seating option in our living room. I wonder now if the familiar blue color of our chairs was chosen to pay homage to our seating forefathers.

Even though my young bum appreciated the plush seat and padded back of those new chairs, I missed the pews. They were a novelty, yes, with a pocket in each back conveniently shaped for a pen and giving envelope, but they seemed so sterile, so individual. There wasn’t a sense of being hemmed in on either side by those sturdy wooden arms. I missed the closeness of too many people smooshed together in one row.

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My eyes rested on the floral fabric lining the back of the pew in front of me. So old-fashioned, I thought. But before my internal lament against patterned fabric and out-of-date seating got too out of hand, I was remembering those wooden pews in that stone church on the corner.

In a culture that clings to individualism, I want pews not chairs.

I want to welcome people into my row and not worry about how many people (or how much baggage) they have with them. I want to smoosh and make room for others. I want to feel the heat of others as they wrestle with the things they hear, see, and feel. I want to reach past my chair’s limits and get messy.

In a culture that clings to individualism, I want community.

photo credit: DaveLawler via photopin cc

Can introverts and extroverts actually do life together?

Expanded discussion guides for Bread and Wine{This post was prompted by a question in Bread and Wine discussion guide, part 2.}

After planning for an hour or so our conversation turned serious. Just a couple feet of table separated us but it felt a little like miles and miles sat between us. As she filled me in on some of the tough stuff that was happening in her life, I sat in silence. My hands rested around my empty coffee cup and I wished there was at least a drop so I could do something other than stare.

I was already formulating what I would say before her voice petered out. In situations like this, my friends are generally looking for advice, so I went about scripting my opinion. It was probably my lack of any response that prompted her to ask, “what do you think?” And the flood gates of my opinion opened on this hurting woman I had only known for a month or two.

My spouting sputtered out and an uncomfortable silence settled. In the batting of one of her long eyelashes she was back to business as usual, firming up the plans we had been discussing previous to her moment of vulnerability. As our meeting drew to a close, I couldn’t ignore that sinking, icky feeling developing in my gut, the sign you know you’ve messed up. I knew I had missed the mark with my response…

Can extroverts do life with introverts?Since reading Shauna Niequist’s first book, Cold Tangerines, I have held her commitment to honesty and vulnerability in the mess of life in high esteem (okay, maybe idolized it a bit). I wanted to be a person who could be real with others and wasn’t afraid to slog through the mud with broken people, my own self included. In my efforts to do life with this new friend, even those messy bits, I hadn’t paused to consider who she was and what she actually needed. I wanted to approach the mess with a vacuum cleaner and make it disappear.

As an introvert, my natural tendency is to listen, observe, analyze, and make suggestions based on those three things. Because I don’t offer a multitude of words, I like to make the one’s I say count. I realized I had pushed my own agenda (in my advice) and my own strengths (in delivery) onto an extrovert who really just needed to verbally process. My mishap made me wonder if it was even possible for someone like me to do life properly with someone like her.

An apology and various discussions later, we are still doing life together. God is teaching me that being messy with people is just that, messy! As much as I’d like to, I can’t just cross “do life together” off my daily chores list. It’s a process, just like life is a process.

And you know what? Our differing personality types had little to do with my missing the mark (as much as I’d like to place the blame somewhere else…). I missed the mark because I wanted to stay comfortable. She was looking for someone to express love and give prayers, not someone to analyze the situation.

Doing life with people is less about compatibility and more about sacrifice and humility.

The mess becomes a beautiful mess when we are able to put our preferences aside, admit our weaknesses, and love others how they need to be loved.

PS – Shauna talks about her own mess-up in ministering to a friend in “Cupcake in The Oven.” (from Bread and Wine)

PPS – This girl and I are still friends and understand each other better and better as we do life together :)

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If you missed them:

My People plus Bread and Wine Discussion Guide for Part One

My People

My trip to New York last week was more than just a week with family (which was wonderful). It was a time to be with my people, as Shauna Niequist would call them. The Ideals, my Bible study group from when I lived in California, decided to have a Fall retreat at my parent’s place and there was no way I was going to pass up the chance to a. go to New York again and b. spend time with some of my favorite women! It was refreshing to laugh, study Psalm 31, and do autumnal things together, even if it was just for a few days.

I’ve never been one to have a large group of friends, just a few really tight ones. Maybe that’s why I really resonate with Shauna when she talks about “her people” in Bread and Wine. They are the close ones. They are in the muck and mire of your messy life – cheering, crying, correcting.

My People 2

Since I like consistency, I struggle with the fact that some friendships are seasonal. Not seasonal in a flaky way, but seasonal because life circumstances change. Aside from my one life-long friend, I met my first people in college. Kayla, K, Nat, Brit – these women did life with me in a very formational time. One of the worst parts of graduating and moving back to California (I attended William Jewell College) was knowing they wouldn’t be  daily part of my life. Even though I keep in sporadic contact with them, I know God gifted them to me for a specific season.

Getting older doesn’t make the seasons in friendship easier. I’m thankful that despite another geographic gap, my California people are still my people from afar. I could call (most likely text since I hate talking on the phone), or email them for any reason and I know they’d be there with prayers, ears, and a virtual hug. However, it’s important to be known where you are, too. Finding your people isn’t easy. And it takes time. I fee like I’m in the in between, loving and missing my people (who will always be my people) and in praying for people in the present.

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Here’s an expanded discussion guide for Part One of Bread and Wine. (Read the original post if you were wondering why the heck I’m writing a discussion guide for this book).

PS: Shauna talks a ton about her people, especially in What The Table is For.

Digging Deeper into Bread & Wine – Part 1 

And, in case you missed it: Digging Deeper into Bread and Wine- Introduction

Happy chatting!

Who are your people? Have the seasons of your life influenced who your people are?

Amazon Affiliate links included in this post.  If you click through to Amazonany purchase you make supports Primitive Roads (with no extra cost to you!)

Dig Deeper Into Bread and Wine

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My cousin introduced me to Shauna Niequist when we were in college. I devoured Cold Tangerines and then eagerly awaited Bittersweet. It’s difficult not to be enveloped by her voice; it’s like having coffee with a long lost pal. Conversation runs deep, touching at the most vulnerable parts of your soul without feeling invasive. Reading Shauna’s books is both inspiring and convicting, sacred and authentic. All of them are a pleasure to digest.

For the next eight weeks, a friend and I are hosting a small group to digest Shauna’s latest book, Bread and Wine. The book is truly meant to be devoured – physically (the recipes are wonderful) and emotionally/spiritually. There’s a great little discussion guide included in the back, but Bread and Wine is much meatier than space allowed for that guide. As I began to read Bread and Wine for the second time, I couldn’t stop the “ooo, I’d like to discuss this and ask someone that” type thoughts running through my head. I realize not everyone loves to dissect their reading material, trolling for discussion topics. However, I DO!

Since Bread and Wine is such a fantastic book to chat about with a group or reflect on by yourself, I wanted to share my expanded discussion guide thoughts with you all. I hope they inspire you to dig deeper into the themes and topics found in Bread and Wine and that maybe they give you the confidence to grab a group of gals to dig deeper with you! I’ll be posting these (as PDFs) once a week (ish) along with some other resources to complement that particular portion of the book.

Today, we’re starting with the introduction.

Here are the PDF’s to all the discussion guides:

Digging Deeper into Bread and Wine- Introduction

Digging Deeper into Bread & Wine – Part 1 discussion guide

Bread and Wine discussion guide, part 2

Bread and Wine Discussion Guide- Part Three

Bread and Wine discussion guide – part 4

Have you read Bread and Wine? What helped you to dig deeper?

And here’s some fun extras…

The Power of The Living Room – a sermon Shauna gave at Willow Creek Community Church about many of the same themes found in Bread and Wine.

Disclosure : Amazon Affiliate links included in this post.  If you click through to Amazonany purchase you make supports Primitive Roads.