I work in a restaurant. Every sunday like clockwork the after church lunch crowd will descend on the restaurant for their weekly lunch fix and every week i serve them thinking, “community is nice.”
I miss it. I miss being part of a group of people, of a community. I haven’t had that in a long time. I realise it’s important to have a community of people, especially in a foreign country.
At the same time I’m also a little afraid.
I’ve grown up in church. Up until three years ago I was an avid pew filler. I had friends although I was not part of the cool crowd. I had always wanted to be part of the cool crowd. It never happened – mostly because I think I outgrew that need to be accepted by them. I say that but maybe it’s not completely true, because rejection by your peers hurts. We lived parallel lives- listened to the same music, lived in the same area, close in age- but somehow we really never clicked. It always felt like our conversations were hit or miss and we weren’t interested in the same things.
That was my community for eight years. An experience that felt like it was slowly chipping away at the wood of my identity and giftings, although to be fair there were times used for good there too.
In retrospect, it was a traumatic experience. One that makes me wary of church as an institution, and weary of being around Christians. My sisters and I often talk about it, and to be honest, it was toxic too. There is still a lot to get out of the system, less than in the beginning, but maybe some residue still exists. The experience robbed us. And turned us upside down and inside out.
It’s only recently that I’ve started to come out of the fire, and Jesus has been drawing me out in the last few months, reminding me of who I am. That he gives beauty for ashes, and he never left, even when the smoke was so dense that I couldn’t see. It’s him that whispers to give community another try, give people a second chance.
And despite my fear, despite my experience, I start to think-
Maybe I will.