It is really and truly almost unbearable.
See, I have arrived at a point in my life where I cannot even mention a desire, a hardship, or a prayer request, no matter how weighty or trivial, without the people in My Community acting to provide something for me or my family.
I have actually started censoring myself because I know if I so much as mention a need (or in many cases a want) to any of the loving people in My Community, someone will jump in before I have a chance to finish my sentence with an offer of help. Actually a lot of times there isn’t even an offer, just the goods. Delivered. With love and no expectation of repayment.
And I cannot even begin to describe how uncomfortable this makes me.
Like I said, almost unbearable.
I am already so dependent upon the generosity of others so that we can be devoted to the ministry at the University and to its students.
My Community gives faithfully in this way to see this ministry happen.
But, they just don’t know when to stop.
After sharing a pesky car problem in my weekly prayer request email with my mommy friends, mere minutes after hitting send my friend J is on the phone telling me that her trustworthy mechanic is expecting my car in his shop, all expenses paid by J’s family.
After casually mentioning how I wanted to make some changes to how I dress in order to appeal more to the sorority girl population on campus for the sake of the gospel (which, if you have witnessed my severe lack of style you know is no easy task…), my friend K starts sending me fashion websites asking me what styles I like so that she can buy me new clothes.
After saying that I was planning on buying Zach some new shoes, my mother in law has us in the car heading to the store to get him some.
After saying how much Evangeline would love to go to a Disney on Ice, weeks later tickets arrive in the mail from my own mom.
After simply knowing my family, our former InterVarsity student R offers free baby sitting once a month so Jon and I can have a date night.
And these are only five examples out of many unrequested gifts of time, money, and services that seem to get thrown at us.
Now, I am used to asking for things.
My job requires me to ask really hard things of people. Like, all the time.
Will you share the gospel with strangers? Will you give up your free time to lead a bible study? Will you part with your hard earned money to support the ministry of InterVarsity? Will you babysit for free so Jon and I can both attend this ministry event? Will you not run away from conflict and healing and deal with this issue in your life? Will you not sleep with your boyfriend or girlfriend? Will you give up your summer to go on a mission trip? Will you move into the dorms to witness to students there? Will you pray for me? Will you spend a Saturday with Refugee families?
It is hard. And tiring. But the invitations to stewardship, purity, healing, mission and the Kingdom of Heaven are
usually always totally worth the ask.
But the five examples (again, only five out of many) I mentioned above didn’t involve any kind of asking, pleading or inviting. I was simply talking about life like we all do. Things I would like to do and have. Car problems. Life problems. The stuff regular conversations and prayer meetings and friendships are made of.
Except there is nothing regular about it.
Nothing at all.
We as Christians talk about community until we are blue in the face. We want Acts 2. We want transparency, authenticity, sacrificial love. We want to know and we want to be known. We want genuine brotherly and sisterly affection for one another.
But living it out is hard because true Christian community flies in the face of what our culture of independence, bootstraps and sufficiency tell us.
The truth is I am completely and utterly dependent upon others. For my clothes, my food, my car, my house, and even my recreation. I am completely and utterly dependent on others and it is humbling to the point of being uncomfortable.
A voice inside me tells me that my life is wrong; that getting help here and there is fine but eventually I need to move beyond this dependence and get a real job. Or make some real money. Or get my s%#$ together so I don’t need others so much. Or quit being such a leach.
A voice inside me tells me I must have a sign on my forehead reading PATHETIC, PLEASE HELP in neon lighting; because if I am not even asking for half the stuff that people give us I must have it written all over me in some other way that I am a needy mess.
A voice inside me tells me that me and Jon’s vocations aren’t worth other people’s generosity, that their money and time should be kept or given elsewhere.
And so I find myself censoring what I say because My Community just can’t help inviting, sharing, giving, serving, praying, splurging, and buying. And because the voices can be loud.
The word blessed seems so cliche that I hesitate to use it to describe my life in The Church simply for overuse.
But as I experience giving and receiving and interdependence within The Body it is evident that I am in fact blessed and am living out what so many Christians long for and talk about. Even if it means we can’t pay for our own car repairs and that I in turn give my two pennies as an offering to others.
The last couple of weeks at our church service it has been proclaimed that we cannot live the Christian life without each other. The Holy Spirit compels us to submit, give, depend, care for and support each other.
When I see how this truth has impacted my life and the life of my friends and family it is then that I can get a glimpse, a taste, of the beautiful concept of community that God desires and ordains for us to have.
Not a community that just nods and smiles. Not a community that feels I am draining them. Not a community that turns away from the ugly.
But a beautiful community.
One that I cannot live with out.