I’m so thankful for community and I’m so thankful for seasons. I’m so glad that the world was designed for seasons. Every year we get four of them physically, and depending on where you live, depends how extreme it is from one season to the next. I’m thankful that change happens and we can always count on the seasons to change. This is especially encouraging when the season of life is less than ideal. After winter, spring always comes. After a hard season, during a trying season, and in the mess of a disastrous storm, there is abundant hope. Hope that the storm will pass, that the season will end, and before we know it, we’ll be in a season of new life, growth, and refreshing rain.
With the start of any new year, there is always hope and ignited faith for what the next year will look like. There is a clean slate for the dreams we want to pursue and accomplish. There is always hope that this is going to be the best year yet… Until it is not. Occasionally we find ourselves in really hard seasons. Our immediate expectations of the New Year and clean slate change and those expectations come crashing down when things don’t happen the way we had envisioned. But thankfully, it's only February and the year is not over. There is still a new season on the horizon.
Lately Mr. Little and I have been in an incredibly busy and hard season. It seems like we have grabbed life by the horns and are holding on for dear life. When everything seems like a priority and we maybe bit off more than we can chew, we forget that bigger bites are hard to swallow. Although while we’ve been busy, we have still managed to find a routine and stay connected with one another, even when it seems like the world has come crashing down around us. But there is hope. There is God. And there is community.
The day after Christmas we were told that one of our dear friends was diagnosed with an incurable disease and his body was shutting down. He had zero chances of living and the treatment was just to make his last days on Earth more bearable. Mr. Little was a mess and I remember just holding him on the couch as we both grieved, while declaring God is still really good. We declared life over our friend and the promise that He is always faithful. This was one of the greatest experiences I have ever witnessed with the strength and power of community. People were coming together; strangers, friends, and family… everyone was lending their strength to one another, spiritually, practically, and financially. Our friend was covered 24/7 in prayers, declarations, and belief for his full recovery. His incurable disease turned out to be cancer in his bone marrow, his liver, and his esophagus. It has been 8 weeks since we heard those dreaded words. Words that the enemy used to try and put out our light and our faith. Key word, tried. It didn't work! It has been 8 weeks and he is thriving and back to himself. Now his cancer is in only 1% of his bone marrow and there is absolutely zero cancer in the rest of his body. He is well on his way to being 100% healed and his life is a miracle. There is hope. There is God. There is community.
In the midst of this, there have also been many relational hardships in our family and in those around us that we love dearly. In the last month or so, I have witnessed multiple sudden deaths, where people have died out of the blue for no earthly reason. Tragedy has hit hard to many people I know and love. There has also been an increase in relational blowups in families; feuds filled with hate and rage. But then there is community. In all of these mentioned scenarios, I have never seen community so pure and so loving. People have raised insane amounts of money in less than 24 hours to care for one another. People have lent listening ears, followed by words of wisdom and hope, especially to those that need it the most.
Lately, I’ve been thinking so much about the idea of community and family. How family isn’t always by blood. How one of our greatest needs as human beings is to be loved, supported, and encouraged by family and if that family isn’t there, it can still be found in community. For years people have criticized the church. The have made judgments that the church isn’t perfect, when it’s comprised of imperfect human beings. But after this season of life, I couldn’t be more proud to be apart of the church. I couldn’t be more proud to be apart of a community that sows into one another and lends strength when it’s needed the most.
Jonathan Helser recently said in 2nd year, “The more Heaven comes to Earth, the more Earth will look like Heaven.” I think heaven looks a lot like family, it looks a lot like community, and it looks a lot like supporting one another. It looks like the church coming together and loving people well and I believe that there are two forces at play. When people do relationships well, when they love their spouse well, when they do community in a really healthy way, the enemy is ticked off. He comes to kill, steal, and destroy. He comes to break families apart. He comes to break us down when we least expect it. However, I refuse to let him win. I refuse to let him bring my family down, and I refuse to let him break apart my community.
So in this season, I am choosing community and I am choosing family. I am choosing to constantly surround myself with people that will call me out when I shut down. I am choosing to be present with those around me, when they also go through difficult seasons. I am choosing to validate and listen to my community so they feel loved and heard. I am choosing to go after community no matter what challenges I face, because in the end, I know everyone is stronger with community in place. When we come together, hand-in-hand, we are a force to be reckoned with. Love always wins, and sometimes love just looks like community.