Epiphanies. Unannounced, these singular moments open life with explosive understanding. The funny thing is, these new insights come when we’re just living life, doing ordinary things. They can entice us away from our routine ways, reminding us that there is more is to grasp, if we’re willing to see.
Epiphany 7: Community
“At first, I thought you were kind of a snob.”
These words were directed at me. Me. And everything inside me said, That’s absurd. I’m no snob, I’m just quiet. And defensiveness kicked into full gear. Others in the group quickly came to my rescue. “Jeff, you don’t say that to someone! Come on, we’re supposed to be encouraging each other!” So Jeff quickly apologized to me, more than once, and our team meeting moved on.
But I think my college friends missed something.
Jeff’s words rang in my ears for days. He thought I was a snob when he first met me. I couldn’t let go of the idea, and I wasn’t sure that I was supposed to. The point was, I came across like a snob, whether I was one or not. It was an epiphany of reality. And I never would have known it if Jeff hadn’t been honest enough to admit it.
Being known is messy. I like getting encouragement from friends, and I have some dear ones who consistently speak affirming words to me. But I also need their honest and loving feedback when I don’t realize how I’m impacting them. I want to look good, be good, and get a good reaction from other people. If that’s my soul’s goal, then look out, because all kinds of covering up will prevent others from seeing the real me.
Ironically, Jeff was inviting me to share myself more openly. He wanted me to know that my wallflower approach wasn’t simply neutral, it made him uncomfortable. He wasn’t sure how to talk to me, or if I wanted to talk to him. If he had been some random guy in the cafeteria, I could live with giving that impression. But Jeff and I were on a ministry team together, and we were supposed to serve together.
The rich rewards of spiritual friends in community are rare but worth the risk. I find that I crave it more these days when people can’t always be together because of sickness or distance. It’s not a craving I should squelch, either. It’s a sign of healthy desire, a measure of growth in my heart that I long for the unpredictable but potent life-change that comes only from living openly with others.
God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.
–Ephesians 4:15-16 (The Message)
- How often do you let people know your thoughts or feelings?
- Do you have a community of spiritual friends where you can receive both encouragement and honest feedback?
- Can you think of a time when someone’s words (positive or negative) helped you to grow?
- What would it look like for you to share yourself more openly?