How to Fight for Community

Saturday was the day.

I was excited and afraid.

I was looking forward to having my friends surround me as we worshipped together and learned about sharing our stories.

I was trying to think positively because I had invited over 90 women (real life friend and family) to come and worship with me. While I knew that the majority of them would not, I still worked hard to make it a day to remember.

It was a good day with my mother and my sister, but I was hurt, disappointed and angered when no one else came. I was left feeling invisible and like I didn’t matter, like I wasn’t important to these people, but it wasn’t just that they didn’t come. It was that they didn’t tell me that they weren’t coming.

And so the tears came. It hurts, and since it more or less a frequent occurrence when I try to invite people I feel like giving up.

And part of me has to wonder, “How would they feel if they were faced with the same situation?”

For the past few months, the pastors at the church I have been attending have been preaching on creating community within the church and the importance of doing life together, not just talking on Sundays but during the week as well.

I have been reading about the importance of community online.

And I have been feeling a hunger to belong and feel a part of something.

So I reached out from my comfort zone. I made a plan to open my heart and my home to others and to invite them into community with me.

And I am rejected  and a failure (or at least that is how it feels) and left asking myself the question, “What is wrong with me?”

I know that it was a beautiful day here in Missouri and that people are busy. They have families to take care of and gardens to work on. They went out of town or just simply forgot. I know and understand that people have their reasons for not coming, but honestly in the midst of the hurt and disappoint, I don’t care.

Their reasons and their apologies don’t take away the pain. Their carelessness of another person’s feelings makes me angry.

You see, I have always felt like the outcast, like the person who doesn’t fit in. It started in kindergarten and grew worse the older I got until I graduated from high school.

I’m rarely ever invited out with friends. I’m rarely called unless someone needs something like a babysitter so they can go out with their friends. I will decide to have a party or invite someone over and they don’t show up. Many times not even calling.

Or I have people telling me that they want to get together for lunch and never following through.

So after all that when no one showed up on Saturday, I felt like giving up on building community.

I stayed home from church on Sunday because I was afraid that if anyone asked me how things went on Saturday I would say something I didn’t mean or something that I regretted in my pain and my anger.

I feel like giving up on reaching out to others, and after my posts last week on the hunger I feel and how we all need community I get the irony.

I still see that those things are important. I know that I need to be a part of a community. I know that I need to have friends and people that I can rely on.

And I know that even though I feel like giving up I’m not going to give up. I’m going to fight to develop that community.

The question now becomes, “How do I fight? How do I reach out when it seems like all I get is rejection?”

The only answer I can come up with is this: If you get bucked off a horse, you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back on that horse.

What does this mean in building community?

1)    You give the pain and the anger to the Lord.

This is how you pick yourself up. You cry a little and pray a lot. Give the pain to the Lord and ask Him to redeem the situation.  You can’t do it yourself. You need Him. I spent a lot of time Sunday crying and praying. Is the hurt and anger completely gone? No, but I am moving forward one step at a time.

2)   You forgive so you can move forward.

This is how you dust yourself off. You have to forgive. If you don’t forgive, you can’t move forward, and you become bitter. And in the end, the bitterness will hurt you more than it will ever hurt them. I’ve been there. I’m there now. And forgiveness isn’t a “one time” thing. It is an “every time I think about it” thing. Every single time what hurts you pops into your mind you have a choice to forgive or grow bitter. I’m choosing to forgive.

3)   You become more intentional about building community.

You got thrown off that horse. You get right back on it because if you don’t the fear will grow. You got hurt trying to build community. You get right back out there and work on building community because if you don’t the fear will grow. I don’t know what this looks for me at this time. As I was praying about it, the story in Matthew 22 of the wedding feast came to mind. I don’t know if that means that it is time to start over again and find another church or if there is some other lesson I am supposed to get out of it, but either way I will get back out there and work on building community again.

What about you? Have you ever been hurt when trying to build friendships and community within the church? How have you handled it?

16 Comment

  1. Wow! I am so glad that I am not the only single lady that has gone through this. I invite people but feel frustrated that they never invite me anywhere, it can be very frustrating at times. I’m trying to learn to just keep inviting anyway even though I never get it back.

    1. Lauren, you are not the only one, and it is not just single ladies who have gone through this. But I think as single women it stresses how alone we are, that is just us and the Lord. And to be honest, it sometimes makes me wonder if the Lord is with me too, and in those moments I know that I have to turn to and rest in His promise that He will never leave me nor forsake me and that even this can be redeemed.

      1. Yes, so true. We have to learn to lean on the Lord even more. I think it can be wonderful opportunity as single ladies as well, as we learn to lean on Him and Him alone. 🙂

  2. I’m sorry you went through this. I know how difficult it is to put yourself “out there” and then have careless or thoughtless people disregard your efforts. I’ve been there. As I read through this post I found myself nodding in agreement because I’ve been down that road several times. I’ve tried to host events or get people together and then felt like a failure. All I can tell you is that you are on the right track by giving the hurt over to God. Don’t let bitterness take root in your heart. Our Enemy wants nothing better than to whisper to us that we are failures, that we’re worth less as singles, and all those negative feelings. Praying for you.

    1. Thank you, Kristi!

  3. I attempt to build community when it comes to nutrition education. I get shut down a lot but I keep pressing and I seek the Lord all.the.time because I don’t see the fruits of my labor often but others do and they share those glimpses with me. I need to remember to focus on the big picture. God planted this seed in me and I will see it through to pollination. Continue to serve the Lord in all your heart. He will honor you. For you are walking in obedience.

    1. Thank you, Jessica! And I will have to check out your site because I need to make some lifestyle changes.

  4. Oh Misty, I am so sorry! I see my kids going through the same thing here and Wes at school. I have also gone through this. It is universal, unfortunately. I know you can’t give up on people. I don’t have any great advise, just wanted you to know that i sympathize and feel your pain. I am blessed to have my husband, who is my best friend. You are right to lean on God and keep going. I love you and enjoy your posts. Suzy

    1. Thank you, Suzy! I’m sorry that your kids are going through the same thing. It’s tough. You’re right though. It is universal. And now I’m wondering how can we change that?

  5. Praying for you Misty! I went through this and had to learn the hard way. It led to depression. So I’m happy to hear you are leaning on God and I want to encourage you to keep doing so. Saturday, I was at home doing the (in)rl alone because meetup plans didn’t pan out. I wish we lived closer to each other. I’d be there in a heartbeat 🙂 I’m also praying on your behalf about where God wants you in regards to church. I am in the same church that hurt me because I didn’t feel like God wanted me to leave. But it was only last year that I finally started praying for God to use me effectively where He has me right now, instead of always asking Him if it’s really really His will I stay. I can be stubborn, I suppose. But you be stubborn in creating community, and I know God will send the right people your way!

    1. Thank you, Angela! There are obviously things other than what happened on Saturday that has me praying about leaving this church and a lot of it has to do with me and where I am feeling led as far as serving in the church and in my life. I’m praying that the Lord either shows me a clear way to serve where I am at or that He moves me to where I need to be.

  6. Have totally been there! It`s even worse when it is your children who have done the inviting & no one (or very few in relation to a list) show up…hurtful for sure. I used to stew in bitterness, but have since learned that hurts no one but myself (and the Lord). Now I forgive and move on. I have learned that with our busy rush around society that it takes a bit of extra creativity to get people`s attention for events. I usually send reminders to people the day before any event (sad, but it`s the reality of our culture). Thanks for sharing 🙂
    Rachael @ http://www.parentingandhomeschoolinginfaith.com

    1. It is so easy to become bitter when stuff like this happens, but we have to forgive. We are commanded to forgive. Right now I can honestly say that I have forgiven them. I’m just asking the Lord to redeem it and turn it into something that can be an encouragement to others.

  7. […] A BIG thank you to Misty over at The Barn Princess for letting me share a small piece of her story. You can read more about Misty and how God is redeeming her heartache in: How to Fight for Community. […]

  8. Wahoo!! I am so proud of you. Putting this out there for everyone to read is the first step to kicking that rejection cloud over you away. I am a community driven girl who moved to the land of smiles and fake invitations to “get together sometime”. I was miserable for the first 5 years of living in Dallas. But God (isn’t that always what we say?) showed me the need to shrink my vision of what community was and to be the inviter time after time after time. You are not alone we always invite well over 100 people to our parties knowing we might get 20 and that’s because all our friends have lots of kids.
    Keep inviting. People need to know there is a place to connect when they are ready.

    1. Thank you, Ma! It has been a while since I wrote this but I’m still fighting to try and find my community.

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