I have been reading a book recently, Foundations for Spiritual Formation: A Community Approach to Becoming Like Christ. It has been an impressive read for an academic book. It is all about how community, your spiritual community, plays a vital role in your spiritual formation and the various ways they do so.
The idea of community is not anything new. It is plastered throughout the pages of scripture. Yet, when I was reading through the elements to be practiced, I realized I have not fully engaged in my community. One particular aspect of community is love. Bob Miller says, “loving well requires constant thought and engagement with others.” That, I am certain, is not something I do well.
I could give you all my excuses for not engaging. Honestly, I don’t engage because it is risky. It can be painful. It makes me vulnerable. I am still sorting through my own baggage so engaging with others’ seems like too much. Yet, to not do so, means I am missing out. I am not fulfilling my place in the body. I am not supplying something and I am not being supplied (Eph. 4:11-16).
It’s true. Not loving means I am not getting hurt. Not in the ways which I have built walls to protect myself, anyway.
As a dear friend told me recently, I can’t keep hiding behind walls. I can’t keep taking them down and throwing them back up whenever I feel a sense of the old pain. I can’t keep reliving the past. Those that may hurt me now, are not the ones who inflicted the original pain. They are not doing it intentionally. I can’t attribute past pain to them.
So, today I make another concerted effort to get out from behind the walls. Start the dismantling process, again. And step into engagement with others. Spiritual formation. It can be tough. I need to be engaged and to love and I need others to love me. No pain, no gain just might be true in this case.
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