We all want to find our people. We all desire that deep connection. We want someone to know our deepest parts and to love us anyway. That type of community doesn't just come naturally, we have to look for it and fight for it. There are some things we need to look for when it comes to your inner circle. I'm going to tell you a little bit about my people and my journey moving to a new city!
"Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." - Philippians 3:17-20
THIS WON'T BE PERFECT
First of all, we're all unhealthy people to some extent. You are never going to find the perfect people to do life because they don't exist. You will always be doing community with sinners. With that in mind, we approach this with a lot of humility. At the same time, we are told throughout scripture to use discernment and intention in who we choose to do life with.
It's a given that we are to be disciples that make disciples. Jesus' last words on earth were to go and make disciples of all the earth. We're supposed to love those that cannot love us back. We're supposed to love those that have nothing to give us. In fact, that's the very people Jesus spent some of his most intentional time with. We are called to love those that are not like us and are not perfectly healthy. This is one of the greatest callings of our lives. But God also knew that we were built to live as part of a body, to have encouragement, to have those that are pushing us and helping us finish our races.
WHO'S YOUR INNER CIRCLE?
Paul talks about how our citizenship is in Heaven and that this entire life, we are headed toward our home. We've got to have people that will remind us of that. We're talking about picking your circle, those that are closest to you. That circle (in my opinion) probably can't be larger than three or four people. We live busy lives and don't have the margin to do deep life with a group of 20 people. Those people are acquaintances. Your inner circle are the people that are keeping tabs on you, know what's going on in your daily life. These are the people that you're going to call and tell about a fight with your husband or a difficulty at work or a fear or insecurity or a sin you're consistently dealing with.
We just moved so this is actually very interesting topic to me because I just had to find all new friends. I was nervous about it. I need those people. I can't live very long without people telling me how to grow and encouraging me. Community is never easy and it never falls in our lap. We were invited to a small group pretty quickly, but we actually asked them to give us six months and then we would decide. Over those six months, we asked questions and got to know them and we realized we wanted to be like them. We wanted to do life with them.
I don't regret that time of waiting and asking questions. I'm so grateful we found that group and we can really be honest with them. We tell each other everything, including our finances (the numbers too!) It has taught me so much.
PURSUIT OF CHRIST IS THE QUALIFIER
They're not perfect and they would tell you that. But they're determined to grow and become more like Christ, and that was the qualifier for me. We wanted to be around people that wanted to grow and become more like Christ. We don't have the same worldview on everything or handle our kids the same way. But, there's a pursuit of God that's so powerful for me to be around. I love God more because of them. Despite the imperfections and conflict, we had to choose them. And it was been fun and hard and messy ever since.
Healthy friendships are going to have conflict and you cannot write somebody off because it's difficult. At the same time, Paul wasn't afraid to say that there are unhealthy people we should watch out for. Paul says,"their god is their belly and they glory in their shame." They're comfortable in their sin. They don't need to change anything. They don't want to be messed with. I can promise you if you are running with them, you will get complacent fast. Our flesh loves to not be bothered about its sin. That is not going to produce growth in you and if our goal is to become more and more like Christ as we age, we need people around us that are running toward Jesus. We need to fight for that together.
WE HAVE TO GO FIRST
Here's the thing: you're gonna be as close as you are vulnerable enough to share. You have to be the one that goes first. Gather some people, and tell them you need community. Tell them some things about yourself. That's the beginning of great, healthy community. It's scary and vulnerable, but it's worth it.
I think we can long for this and be good at this and yet it's still hard to find. I have noticed that leading a bible study is one way for me to feel closer to people. Having some sort of catalyst that brings about deep conversation. We sometimes need an outside force to take us deep. We force ourselves to do something that will be good in the end, but as we're going it's a little awkward. I'm a big believer in not giving up on people too fast. I think most people want to go deep. We can't just be looking for the person that is poised and as deep as you are. Sometimes you need to help them get there and that's a worthwhile pursuit. I believe most people want to go there and they just don't know how. We get to be the people that are there for them, pull it out of them, and let them be vulnerable.
I hope this helps you in your pursuit to find your people. We were made for it and it's one of the best parts of my life.