I Found A Place Where I Belong
“Are you ok?” the text message read. I was running late to a Community Group event. At first, I felt embarrassed that I was running late, but then I recognized the depth in that simple text. The group noticed that I wasn’t there and they were concerned about me. I had found a place where I belong.
Grace Fellowship Church likes to say, “Everybody’s welcome. Nobody’s perfect. Anything can happen.” I believe that this truth is best expressed in community. We all crave belonging, to be welcomed and accepted in spite of our imperfections. Small groups provide a space for living out God’s transforming truths. Everyone is welcome and there is a group for everyone. I have been a part of Grace Fellowship all of my 29 years and God has grown me through small group relationships in different stages of my journey: youth group, community groups, a connecting group, and through leading small groups in Grace Kids’ Ministry. I have friends who have benefited from other groups including Re:generation, Financial Peace University, and Divorce Care. Wherever you are in your walk, Grace has prepared a space for you where you can connect and grow.
Nobody is perfect. We are together in our struggles. When isolation sneaks upon me, I lose perspective and my struggles become insurmountable. On the other hand, when I am connected to a healthy group of believers, I am able to see my problems more realistically. Not only do I see that others struggle in similar ways, but we also provide wisdom, encouragement, and a support system to one another. They challenge me to grow beyond my imperfections, even in small ways. For example, our group signed up to spend a Saturday morning together doing construction for Appalachian Service Project. I admit, my attitude was sour and I was convinced I would be bad at it. By the end of the morning working together, I had mastered shoveling gravel and had fixed my attitude. My community group and I are a team, regardless of and likely because of our imperfections. I am not alone, I am for them and they are for me.
In the context of connectedness, anything can happen. I have experienced that God uses people as conduits for His grace. When I am alone, self-critical thoughts run amok. When I am loved and given grace by others, I learn to accept God’s grace and freedom from self-condemnation. As my world broadens and I begin to love and serve others, self-forgetfulness can gradually replace self-condemnation. Another thing that has happened to me through my community group is best phrased by Proverbs 17:22, “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” Though this verse likely refers to a person’s own heart, the cheerful hearts of my friends in my community group have been incredibly good medicine for me. In addition to studying the Bible and praying together, we have fun together. We share meals, we play board games, we’ve carved pumpkins, we’ve been bowling, we’ve shot fireworks (legally, of course), and we laugh a lot. Fun has its own healing power; it forces us to be present in the moment and allows us to lighten up, take down our walls, and be ourselves. I am eternally grateful for the grace and the fun I have found through being a part of my community group.
My final note of encouragement is to jump in. Choose a group and keep showing up. You will be better for being a part of a community and your community will be better because you are a part.
– Katie Miller