The simple answer is pain...
I am not by nature a very relational person. I have always envied people who dive in with both feet and seem to be immediately immersed in something. The ones that seem to effortlessly connect and feel a sense of profound belonging. I long for the connection and completeness they seem to have. I have always felt that while I was accepted, or at least tolerated, I was never completely connected to any group or ministry or community. There has always seemed to be some thin veil that separated me from the pure, genuine relational intimacy that I needed and wanted. In with individuals there seemed to be something missing.
I used to think it was just me; that I was the only one that felt like he was always going to be on the outside looking in -- regardless of how close I tried to get.
And then I realized something. Seems that most of the people I envied felt very much like I did, they were just able to hide it more successfully. They shared a sense of being somewhere just outside the sweet spot of love, acceptance, purpose, meaning and authenticity. Most of these folks had just accepted that "that's the way it is" and that this feeling of incompleteness is something we just have to live with.
For others the pain of not feeling whole moved them to search for authentic relationships and community. That's how it worked for me and the others I know that are on this journey. The word of God convinced us that authentic community and whole, uncompromising relationships were possible, and pain pushed us along the path to experiencing that.
What kind of pain? The pain of being separated.
There is first the separation from God because of our sin. That chasm has to be crossed before we ever talk about restoring fellowship and community with others. Fortunately God has provided a remedy in the sacrifice of His Son. We need to avail ourselves of that reality daily if we are going to experience true community, because sin has also separated us from one another.
It is one of the powerful realities of sin that we sense this fracture, sometimes chasm, in our relationships with one another.That sense of distance from one another often triggers shame and the fear of being abandoned, unworthy and unlovable. The fear of being "separated" causes us to put on a mask, pretend, pose and posture to try and protect ourselves from exposure and rejection. It also causes us to be suspicious of, doubt, find fault with, judge, blame and reject others.
More often than not, by 'trying' to get closer, we get farther away.
But God has hardwired us to be connected to others in the same bond of unity that the Godhead enjoys. Even the most retiring and reclusive individual, in their heart of hearts, whats to be embraced and accepted by someone. We want desperately to know we are loved, and that we can love as well. We want to be connected to others wholeheartedly without shame or pretense. So we need to let the pain of being separated move us to "dare greatly".
We need to dare to:
Show up and be known. Be willing to open up and share a little of our story, no matter how scary the circumstances may be. We have to model what it means to live authentically.
Be present for others. Community is not just about me and my pain.It is about 'we' and God's purpose and intention. So let others invite you into their lives by being willing to engage with their story without being critical or judgmental.
Continue on even when we get hurt. Not everyone gets it. If you open up and are vulnerable and accessible you will eventually get hurt by someone. It's just the price that has to be paid on our journey to authentic community. The question is can we continue to show up and be known in the face of it?
Believe God for it. Authentic community is God's intention for believers. He has made the provision for it through the work of his Son and the power of the Holy Spirit, and He has the patience and love to stand with us as we experiment with living into it. Can we believe him for that?