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“I no longer believe God is working behind the scenes to make me famous. Instead, I think I’m supposed to contribute something to the people around me and create an environment where healthy relationships can flourish.” – Donald Miller
Over the past several months, the idea of ‘creating a space’ has been playing on a continuous loop in my mind. This space I imagine is not necessarily a physical space with cozy couches and fragrant candles burning, rather a space that unprecedented dreams are dreamt, where hearts find comfort and where stories are shared.
I’m rounding the corner to my 31st year of life and I’m just now beginning to grasp the desperate need for community. This whole idea of ‘finding your tribe’ that has become so trendy is anything but new. It’s a theme played out over and over again through history. But it wasn’t always a theme in my life; in fact it has been one of my greatest fears and something I have often felt bad at.
For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with relationships. Struggled with the fear of being left out, fear of being forgotten. I have this memory as a young girl, running from the other kids at my daycare, telling them that I had a disease so that they would leave me alone. It’s such a strange memory to have, but my reasoning for doing it was a form of protection; because if I could convince them to leave me alone, I wouldn’t have to face their rejection. As I got older, that fear of rejection became reality over and over. From my memory, all of junior high and most of high school was just a series of being left out and forgotten, oftentimes intentionally.
I attended a very small private school, filled to the brim with exclusive clicks. I have this haunting memory of intentionally being the only girl in my grade not invited to one of the ‘popular’ girls’ birthday parties in the 7th grade. I sat alone in my room crying that Friday night when the 20 other girls in my class giggled the night away just a mile down the road. That memory, followed by the next few years of mean kids, left me feeling inadequate. I absolutely knew there was something wrong with me and was certain I would never have a true friend.
Down the road, when I was 28, I found myself in a deep state of depression. It was a season of newness for me. Living in a new city, newly married, transitioning into a new job and attending a new church where I had almost no friends. I had family yes, and two of the best friends in the world, but there was 3 hours of distance between us. I became certain that The Head and The Heart’s song “Rivers and Roads” was written specifically for me. It became my anthem of loneliness that year.
There were small moments of bravery when I tried to put myself out there but each time rendered unsuccessful. I continued in this state until the eve of my 29th birthday when I decided that I could not spend even one more day walking that dark path.
Praise the Lord for grace and forgiveness, here I am today writing a blog about the importance and pursuit of relationship. I’d be lying if I said I don’t still struggle with those insecurities from time to time, but I choose to continually seek community rather than sit and wall in self-doubt.
This past year has been richly blessed with community. I made it a priority to seek out friendships that are deep and meaningful and I am continually surprised at how God has used the people in my life to inspire me and build me up in all areas of my life.
If there is one thing I’ve grown to be certain of in this life, it’s that life without community is truly no life at all. We were created to be unified. We were not created to walk this world alone. Every struggle, every hurt, every victory, every moment of glory was meant to be shared.
I long for every area of my life to be shared in community. Everything from my home to my deepest dreams to my marriage- for all of it to overflow with the blessing of relation.
I’ve had the opportunity recently to open up my home twice a month to the women at my church. It’s become a safe haven to grow and learn how to be vulnerable with each other. Each week that those women leave my home, I sit and reflect of the simplicity and beauty of people coming together and breaking bread.
In addition to these women, I have also found the absolute best community with fellow creative, both in Tulsa and throughout the world via social media. It’s common for women to constantly compete and compare with each other, especially in an entrepreneur field, but I am continually connecting with other creative women who support and cheer each other on. Who are open and accepting and long to use their talent to connect with one another. In fact, it’s probably my favorite part of having a small creative business. Being a part of that community and always getting to meet such talented and welcoming people.
One of my greatest passions lately has been encouraging others that their story matters. That whatever they have gone through in life, good or bad, it all matters and it can all be used. Used to inspire, used to connect and used to build bridges. I dream of how magical this world could be if everyone could know just how worthy they are. How much good could come in this world if we started seeing worth and beauty in each person we pass by. I fully believe that God’s greatest creation is humanity and I long to see humanity come together and do great things. The key being TOGETHER.
Alone we can do very little, but together we can find love for all the orphaned children. Together, we can feed and shelter all of those living on the street. Together, we can piece the broken hearts back together.
If I could leave you with just one piece of advice, it would be that if you are going through a season of loneliness, please reach out to someone. And if you struggle with comparison, find someone and celebrate them. All it takes is one moment of bravery. Whatever you are going through and whatever you will face in the future, find someone to go through it with. It could truly make all the difference in the world.
For in the great words of Maya Angelou, “we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.”
Connect with Bethany Martin:
PC: Jess ReNae (jessrenae.com)