A lack of connection is a hard cross to bear and one I know the weight of. Here are some things to keep in mind when you face a lack of community!
Developing Deep Connection is Hard
Recently I sat in my living room with a dear friend as she discussed how difficult it had been for her to develop a deep community in her current circle. It doesn’t matter if our struggle stems from life circumstance, location, lack of opportunity, or even personality, a lack of community is a genuinely hard cross to bear and one I personally know the weight of.
In some sense this is a follow-up to our recent post discussing rejected hospitality (check it out here) but there is a flip side that needs to be discussed. What if your hospitality is not rejected, people do come when they are invited, and yet time and time again no relationship forms as a result? What if you faithfully welcome others into your home with the intention of blessing them, welcoming the way Christ does, and gaining a strong, committed community but that relationship is never reciprocated?
Sometimes good intentions, right actions, and faithful obedience do not lend themselves to deep connection. Sometimes they fall flat. What can we do then? I think there are a few important things to keep in mind when this happens.
1. God is sovereign
God knows you need real connection and community. He has designed you that way. He wants to see you growing and flourishing in the context of relationship. He has commanded relationship in the Christian life (Galatians 6:2) and He intends to fulfill that in your life right where you are, at least in some form.
When you reach out and attempt to start forming relationships only to have them fall flat because no one else seems to care, remember God is sovereign. He may not always have you in your current circumstances but today, He does. He wants you to be faithful with the lot He has given you. Be content with that. Trust that His sovereign goodness will take care of the details even when that is hard to see.
2. Community takes time
Most people have been through more than one failed relationship, even (and sometimes especially!) within the church. They are guarded and careful. While they may appreciate your hospitality, they may also genuinely struggle with believing your motives or being open to sharing themselves. We must remember this with compassion. It is not easy to bear your soul when it has been mocked before. Give grace where you would desire grace be given to you. Be patient with people.
We have a dear friend who stopped talking to us for several months early in the relationship. The reason? We wrote on his Christmas card that we looked forward to getting to know him better. That was enough for him to be afraid. He didn’t want to be known. It took months of my husband pursuing him for us to figure out the reason. Be patient, love well, don’t expect deep connection to happen on your time schedule.
3. Prayer is vital
When community seems a distant reality from our current circumstance, we must remember and be encouraged to be regularly in prayer. God works through the prayers of His people (Mark 11:24). In prayer we can draw near to the throne of grace and there find help in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
When we lack real, lasting human connection we can seek God’s face for it. I am living proof He desires and is able (even in difficult situations) to meet this need.
But there is another point here too. God is not only able to meet our need for human relationship in ways that are amazing, He also uses our periods of waiting in ways that mold our hearts. During those many days where I have cried out to God for connection, He has changed my heart. He has used those times to teach me things I needed to know for lasting relationships to later form. He does not waste our seasons of waiting. And while that doesn’t make the waiting easier, it does give us hope. Our hope is not only that God will work out the details of our lives somewhere in the future but also that even now God is working in our waiting for our good.
Cry out to God while you lack community. Seek deeper relationship with Him even if you are desperately lacking in human connection. Find Him in prayer and trust that your desire for deep community is a God-given desire and one that He desires to fulfill for you (Psalm 37:4).
God Alone Can Give Us Real Connection
Dr. Karyn Purvis in her discussion of children who have faced trauma in their lives says that what was is hurt in relationship is also healed in relationship and I think the same is true for everyone. In my own life, when there has been a wound caused in the church, it has taken time for other relationships within the church to heal those wounds. We cannot expect community, openness, and real connection to form overnight. We must give people the time they need to heal, all the while pursuing them with the love of Christ. He alone can heal our brokenness and give us the relationships we long for.
Have you ever struggled with gaining a real connection? Has deep community ever alluded you? How did you handle that situation? If you are walking through that right now, what do you believe God is teaching you in the midst of your struggle? Let me know in the comments below!