Real Community– John 15:1-2
I went on a Spiritual retreat this weekend and felt so disconnected. I felt God there, and as we’d sit in a circle, focusing on various methods of prayer and meditation, I felt both connected to God and the other participants. Mealtimes were wonderful. I got to know them, and I also felt known, valued, and part of the community. But that sense of community—a real connection with the others at the retreat—was not long-lasting. It did not permeate all parts of the event. Much of the time, I felt very alone. The whole thing stirred insecurities and triggered some of my most hurtful life moments.
I’ve prayerfully considered the “why” of it all. Why did I feel that way? Was there a message I should learn? How much of it was unfinished business in my emotional security? Was there indeed a clicky nature in the group or was that just in my head? Dare I say it, was this Spiritual Warfare? Was there a dark side deeply at work, entrenched in our midst? All of these questions and more get me to consider how maybe, just maybe, I should have handled this all differently — staying more deeply rooted in prayer and selflessness.
I guess in the end; those are my two takeaways—that in anything uncomfortable, I should press into God. Heck, in ANYTHING I should press into God, but here, I kept trying to figure it out instead of just praying. Whatever the cause of the feeling, my insecurity or that of the others in the group, pray for them and me. To be given the grace, compassion, understanding, strength, enlightenment, wisdom, and healing. My goodness gracious, what a blessing had I taken time to stay focused on that as a prayer. Staying grounded and content in the understanding that I was doing the best I could for myself and all others in the group.
Instead, and this is my second take away, I stood focused on self. Why didn’t I fit it? What could I do to feel more connected? What’s wrong with me that this isn’t working? Notice all the “self” in my concern. Granted, we crave connection. We are built to be social creatures. God is a God of community, and He (She) made us with the same desire. But I could have been more apart of that community IF I’d been more focused on others instead of myself.
It indeed was an excellent lesson and an essential reminder of what my role is always to be, placing God first and others second. I pulled out my Bible and my laptop to do some gospel studies while there and was directed to John 15, my life chapter. Much of my work that day has disappeared. The messages I received that day are to be studied again. I was going to push, in typical fashion, to recreate all the notes I’d made last Saturday. Instead, I just read and noted these two verses, and then began writing this. These few words are enough for me to settle in today. There’s more to learn tomorrow.
John 15:1-2 (NIV)
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful.”
Dearest Heavenly Father (Mother), I must be ever reminded to stay focused on you and others around me. I am set here to do a job for you—to be helpful to others—to shine the light back that you have so freely given to me. I cannot do that while focused on myself. You will take care of me so that I may take care of others. In Your Mighty and Holy name…