Why are we running from community ?
I recently asked this question of a few close friends. Why are we running from community? The answers were mind blowing but seemed to have some common threads. I think lots of us have experienced deep pain in the most intimate of communities. I thought I would share some of the most common answers to this question. These answers came from women all across the United States. These are women who are committed to the things of God yet sometimes struggle with Christian community.
I don’t share these answers to solidify the fact that community is hard. I think we all know it is but to show you we have work to do in the family of God. I think it is to open our eyes to how widespread these issues really are. How can we change this? How have we contributed to the hurt within our own communities? Hard questions to ask of ourselves but we are called to do the hard work of community. There are some changes to be made in the body and most of it needs to begin one on one with God. How we see ourselves is a great place to start, as you will see. Some of the answers came in the form of broken sentences. I have tried to shared their answers as closely to delivered as possible. Hang tight.
So to remind us of our question….why do we run from community?
Hard to find a sister you can trust. Been there done that. Don’t want to be seen. Judgement, shame and exhaustion from doing everything and being everything to everyone. A fear of being judged. Wow! Oh boy your question is working me over girl. Or maybe I should say you asking that question has caused God to work me over. If there was ever a time to ask that question it is now. The answer is there but when you get His answer it going to require change in you how you do community. It’s going to require changing of our hearts. Then it’s going to require work of being involved. But it has to be done in the love of God and He will use us to cause people to not only see Him but change their hearts and change a community due to the changing of hearts that only He can do. But you are going to be required to stand firm on truth. Satan will put an all points bulletin out to stop those that step up. You’re going to wind up doing things you were never planning on doing. And now you have drug me in neck deep or you made God put me there. I’m telling you I’m sure asking Him a lot of questions. I’m not so sure I am ready for all the answers.-
Fear of vulnerability and exposure. It’s better to stay isolated than thrown out or not accepted. Sometimes it comes from past hurts and betrayals. It’s a “been there done that moment” that shut us down……not “good” enough to fit in. Paralyzed by “less than”-
I think the woman is the heartbeat of the home and her heartbeat is exhausted. She knows she’s imperfect yet church creates a culture where she can’t be imperfect. Dang it! Such deep roots. I’m afraid of being judged and talked about….too busy with kids no support from partner no one to help so I can engage…afraid of commitment.-
Most women feel over looked and under appreciated. Many women want to help but when they show up they aren’t used. They want those round them to know that they have ideas and hope for things and if they feel as if they could do a lot of good for the community then those who are bolder than others will actually take the steps to do so.-
It’s a defense mechanism often times. We have been hurt. We’ve been seen not appreciated and not validated.. all that bag of tricks so we stopped stepping up and trying. –
Initial thought is that we run because we’ve been burned before when we put ourselves out there and made ourselves vulnerable. If I’ve been burned or hurt in that situation I’m not going to willingly put myself back into that same situation to be hurt again. but is that Christ like community?-
Too many irons in the fire: I don’t have time or energy to invest in cultivating community or connecting.-
Really it’s that I don’t want to give up the time or energy that because I feel like other things are more important or more pressing than community at that moment-
Women are men. Women are petty. Women are competitive. Women are manipulative. For women who have been hurt or have encountered these kind of women, they will never put themselves in that position again. As much as they want community its not worth it. Running is better-
My first thought is because of comparison and feeling like we don’t “measure up. Also We don’t like to let people see our junk! We forget Jesus came for the sick not the healthy and try it hide the parts of our life Jesus came to restore. I think we do this bcuz we feel like ppl won’t want us otherwise. So in our attempt to “hide” this junk we isolated ourselves which is exactly what the enemy wants us to do! If we’re isolated Satan can whisper even louder and convince us that we don’t “deserve” community.-
Comparison. They don’t feel like they measure up. They are less than. They are closed off. Afraid of not being liked. They don’t feel worthy. –
Two sides of the same coin, we feel jealousy/inferior. We act like we are in competition with one another in every area of our life so we don’t want to be real with each other. Community also takes work and time invested and we either don’t have the time or energy we want to commit to people not in our immediate circle. Lastly, we are territorial/controlling and like a mama bear we don’t want new elements in our territory that we can’t control. We like to get in our tribe and comfort zone where we know what to expect and what fulfills us. Community makes us get out of our comfort zone.-
Some of it is time. When you have a job (or more than one), kids, a spouse or significant other, family (elderly parents), trying to eat your greens, exercise, and do all the things, it’s easy to forget the importance of community. Another is the enemy. He wants us to forget we aren’t doing it alone but attacks us mentally, allowing us to believe we are. If we are isolated, we will believe we’re the only ones struggling with our issues. Another part is ourselves. We believe the thoughts of “my sin is greater,” “nobody else struggles with this,” “I must be gross or weird in the eyes of others because of these” (insert) – thoughts, acts, feelings, emotions, etc.I’m sure some of it could boil down to I watched my parents or guardians suffer alone, so I will, too. 50 years ago, you just didn’t talk about things. You suffered in silence, and that’s been taught through the years.-
There is a group who plays cards in my community and I haven’t gone once because it’s just another thing on my plate. It’s just more work and I’m already exhausted. I know it would be good for me and I know I would enjoy it but I just can’t. Meanwhile. My husband hangs out with friends much more often than I do (I love my husband but this is something that I struggle with”, I carry the majority of the burden of the housework and when I don’t go out with friends it’s usually because I have so much laundry and cleaning to do. I think possibly the shame is also part of judgement. Shame that everyone’s lives look so shiny and pretty on social media and they only see the mess in their own life. But ironically, it’s in community where we get to see the messes of other peoples lives.-
Distrust from previous betrayal. Feeling they won’t be truly accepted as they are. Believing the lie that they don’t fit. Fruit of comparison leaving them less than. They don’t walk confidently in their identity in Christ. Interesting you ask that, less than 10 min ago, I heard this: Committing to belong to Jesus and walk with Him, it will naturally lead us to belonging in the body of Christ…..Our belonging begins IN Christ and THEN or belonging leads us to the body of Christ. Capacity – time and also emotional.-
ok. First, I feel that women tend to function out of their emotions instead of allowing The Holy Spirit to take lead. Our emotions are gifts from God and should he stewarded just like finances, time, etc. Secondly, but not to be underestimated, the enemy has targeted women since the garden. Remember, it was Mary who labored and birthed Christ. Also, women are guilty of comparing themselves to other women. This sets the stage for competition. Who is more beautiful? Who is more educated? It is dangerous to view other women as the enemy. My husband leads our mens group and they do not ever (that i am aware of) leave someone out because they feel they are not good enough…don’t fit in etc. They make a place for each other. Also, jealousy is something many women struggle with due to the fact we compare ourselves…instead of celebrating one another. We must get to the place that we see the beauty of Christ in each other. And find the treasure that is in each of us. We are better together. The enemy knows it too!!! I once had a woman tell me, She was not inviting a woman to a gathering because of something she could not help. It was horrible. Marni, she was poor and also sick. If anyone ever needed friends…she did. It seemed they became very shocked when I brought her as my guest. Long and short….we can be too judgmental.-
Fear of not measuring up or comparing ourselves to others, rather than fully trusting who God says we are & our “value” in Him. Accepting differences in people/ourselves for what they are “different creations, abilities”. Accepting that we ALL have a purpose: to be who He has called us to be for His glory & His alone.Hope this helps!-
They want fluff not intimacy. Crafts.. all day.. digging into real community;.. no! The younger generation doesn’t want to be seen. They want community but not real community. They want to be entertained. We’ve all been guilty of that. Its’ hard to slow down long enough to dig deeper. Bottom line…. we want to be seen but superficial stuff doesn’t get us seen… we are still hiding. We can hide in a room full of people laugh and cut up but true community takes vulnerability.-
“All the old ladies go”-
Insecure in who they are. They play the comparison game. I’ve been hurt in the past and put up a very fear from trusting or being transparent.-
Fear of people really knowing you. not the facebook version. The broken version. If we are in community with other they may see the dirty, ugly side we have, it might accidentally slip out. Sometimes we don’t want to run from it but trying to keep the fact that we are unequally yoked comes out. Sometimes I don’t commit because I’m trying to guard or keep the peace. –
Don’t want to be seen because we feel like we aren’t enough.-
She’s been burned by community. Feel like the outcast in the room. –
Fear of being vulnerable Fear of feeling like a failure because of comparison . No time to juggle all the things of life so community isn’t “necessary” I’ll keep thinking!! –
It’s hard to find a community of simple people not super stars. I see Jesus sitting with the most simple of people. He wasn’t looking for the best seat. He chose the common. He also went out of his way to find time to sit with people. He also dug into their life and into their heart, and into their shame and sat with that.-
That’s a big one girl. I think women can feel not supported in lots of ways. We often feel shame that men don’t share. We often bear expectations that require us to sacrifice all of ourselves. I also think when women make mistakes, we are not always given the grace we need to grow.-
I don’t see a community of Christian women who give or create space to be real, be seen, valued even in their sin and still encouraged them to step up in friendship and community. Most of the time when I’ve come real and vulnerable I’ve been shamed not loved and walked along side of until I turned.-
I think church is hard. I think it’s hard to be in community when everyone is “right” and there’s no room for different voices even about the simplest things. Often times community means aligning or conforming. To be in a church community often times it means being a full follower of all community ideas. It’s just not possible. So it’s easier to worship Him in very small bundles than go to church or have community. Church is like the show Survivor, you get voted out way too easily. There is no immunity necklace in the community. As they say on the show Project Runway, “one day you’re in, the next you’re out.”-
The characteristics that are looked at as leadership in men are frowned upon for us. We aren’t taught conflict resolution, we’re taught to bend ourselves. –
We don’t give ourselves space to be less than. We feel it most profoundly but don’t want to walk in it. We also don’t allow folks to help us grow or acknowledge where the “less than” comes from. Growth takes friction sometimes. Sometimes I’m just not up for the rub that it takes for me to grow.-
The very first thing that comes to mind is that we are all expected (or at least feel like we are) to have it all together. If we have help, does that make us look like we can’t handle life? Another one is trust issues. Being burned by relationships in the past makes it hard to fully trust. Full trust is required for a close community. Fear of being too much when you get together with your community. I know I always overthink because we have kids and they are younger. One of my realities right now is I crave community but my spouse does not .-
That’s a good question. In my opinion I think time probably is one reason. Women who work may not have the time to be so involved. I think some women feel that if they try to be part of the church community then they will be asked to do more things in the church and you know the more you volunteer to do the more you are asked to do. I also think a lot of the younger generation doesn’t really know how to interact with other women. Social media has ruined some of that personal connection. Then there may be some who like to keep to themselves because they don’t like letting others in. They may be afraid of rejection or that they might be judged for the life they have lived. I’m sure some may have other reasons. But in my opinion and experience these are a few reasons.-
Because church isn’t about Jesus. It’s about religion and belonging and believing the same thing.-
The main reason I believe, is past hurts, therefore, trust issues ensue. Having said this, I know satan uses church hurts, especially to cause roots of bitterness to rise up in women of God, causing more and more doors to be opened to the enemy, such as the jezebel spirit, religious spirit, leviathan spirit, etc. These are controlling spirits that cause major problems for the Body of Christ and part of the reason it has been so powerless for so long! And why so many Christian women cant be the effective Body or a community that brings God the glory HE deserves. They are looking through a warped lens of hurt and being let down by other women, even leaders in the church, so they in turn act according to this warped mindset only to let the Body of Christ and the Kingdom down, because they are controlled by these spirits and not THE SPIRIT OF GOD! It’s a vicious cycle. All that to say, most women would rather go it alone than put themselves out there for the possibility of more hurt! I call it “survival mode”. But Gods people are to Thrive, not just survive! And the only way we can truly be the Thriving Community Christ has called us to be is by living a lifestyle of repentance to God and to be continually filled and controlled by HIS Holy Spirit! Most women won’t fight to be a part. I was there once. Till I understood what I was fighting for! It’s for the sake of the Kingdom! Not one left behind! They all matter! Women who are hurt, normally hurt others, I think because women are emotional creatures. It goes deeper or feels more personal to us. We feel entitled to hang on to it! I have seen this so many more times than I wished I had! Women can hold a grudge forever! It is so so sad! And since we don’t know, what we don’t know, it has to be pointed out and our sisters have to be made aware to this huge tactic of the enemy’s so repentance forgiveness and freedom can happen for the Daughter’s of God!-
They are insecure. Money is an issue (won’t be able to afford to go out and eat to be a part of a group), I don’t have the right clothes to fit in. They will be judged on how they look (dress, weight, makeup, hair, jewelry). Some have a discouraging partner (doesn’t want them involved) Shame of their past. Secrets (afraid someone will find out what they are hiding) Shame … ties into secrets Another reason: They don’t know anyone. They don’t know what to say when they meet new people.-
Fear of being vulnerable. The more we are in community with others, the more vulnerable and “known” we become. There may be fear of rejection and not being accepted for who we are once others see the real us. Also, with vulnerability comes accountability, we can fear accountability when we are not ready to face those obstacles in our lives that hinder us from growing towards Christ. Then we may fear being judged because of those hindrances and struggles. So, for some it may be easy to stay comfortable and not face them at all, in turn avoiding community. –
Scared of getting judged. They think they’ve done too much wrong for someone to accept them .-
For starters, I think there is always that competition component. I think so many women think their gifts/ anointing should be like those they are around. That is totally off but I think it is a reality. I also think that self confidence/ self esteem is a really big factor too. Time is also an issue for women. I know that, for me, I love to be in company with God loving and God fearing women but there are so many responsibilities. The family unit is so skewed in today’s society. Expectations and innate feelings of responsibilities keep women away from lots of opportunities to gather.-
I have found that getting women into community takes finding a topic/cause/reason outside the norm, outside themselves, to have them come together. Once together they gravitate to the “like-minded” women and create natural community. Women, when given another focus, have a much easier time saying yes. We were taking about social media. –
Woman is the heartbeat of the home. I think we would all say that. She engineers and pilots all things home and family. It’s been that way for years. With that being said, when she is in this position she can quickly feel alone and inferior, when in all transparency she is kicking it! I am learning the devil isolates the powerful. I need something God is teaching you so the enemy purposeful isolates you because when we come together it is a powerful force against him. He’s a liar and a manipulator. He has come to steal, kill and destroy as John 10:10 says. If we could keep this in front of us at all times and look how he is skewing our view we would see his tactics. Sometimes it’s our own personal view of ourselves. Sometimes it’s our view of someone else. Sometimes it’s our view of how they view us. The lens can get pretty muddled. The best place to start is without own hearts. I’ve learned when I see myself how God sees me, lots of other things slip away. When I operate as He sees me, then I really have a heart for others, no matter their state. The ground gets really level when I see myself how Christ sees me. Freedom in these areas listed above begins here.
It’s not about so many of the things we find in our head to make it about. Are there issues there? Yes. It is time for a new breed of Christian woman to be willing to be a Godly example bold in her pursuit of God. She is willing to show her scars knowing the talk will begin but also knowing someone needs your story of redemption. Jesus saw the sins of folks, addressed them and told her to go and sin no more. When we are bold where we are in our journey God shines. When the change happens it will be evident to the community we are in. Community is strong. Community is a powerful thing. The church was birthed in Acts to go tell. We can not tell in isolation. We need each other. I need to hear your struggle and how God changed your life. I need to have you swat my rear and love me when I’m in the tank of sin. I need that. Knowing how to do that as Jesus would do it is key. Being mature enough to take the rebuke in love is powerful.
WHAT COMMON THREADS DID YOU SEE?
WHAT RESONATED WITH YOU?
HOW HAVE YOU OVERCOME SOME OF THESE PITFALLS? TELL US.
WHERE WERE YOU PERSONALLY CONVICTED THAT YOU HAVE WORK TO DO?
WHERE DO YOU SEE THE ENEMY AT WORK?
WHERE CAN WE COMBAT THIS THROUGH KNOWING WHO WE ARE IN HIM?
I would love to have you add to these answers. I know this will help those who pastor, those of us who are struggling in community and those of us who need to step up and be a Godly example of community. Seeing the wrong examples doesn’t mean we get to bow out. It means we step up to be the correct one. Before we can step up there may be some heart work that has to happen within us to lead well in this charge. I’d love to hear from you. -Marni
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