Last month at (in)courage, I wrote about when you want to be known. After I wrote that post, I’ve thought a lot about the word authenticity. It seems like there are as many definitions of what it means as there are people in the world. I tend to think of it as saying what you think, always being the same person no matter the situation, being honest, verbalizing your opinions. But what about if you are a contemplative person? Someone who takes a while to figure out what she thinks about things? I never could have been on a debate team: I don’t think fast enough. Today at (in)courage, I’m circling around this topic again, considering community when being authentic means shutting your mouth. Join me there?
She and her husband waited for years to adopt a little one and they finally got the call. They left in a hurry, nursery still a storage room, presents freshly wrapped under their Christmas tree, fruit left to rot on the counter. They flew away to gather up into their arms this baby meant for them since before the creation of the world. My plan was to bring them some groceries to leave in their fridge before they returned home – just a couple of small things to get them through their first morning back.
On my way to the store, another friend called to see if I could bring her a few essentials. It was her first week home with both a toddler and her new baby as her husband went back to work. And as I pushed my cart through the grocery store, bananas for her, chicken for us, bread and milk for the others, the tears came quick and full. This cart is answered prayer. This cart is evidence of love. These women are my community and these small gifts of food are the smallest tokens of support.
It felt like a gift to me, to run these errands for them. It felt like an honor to be close enough to them to be someone they call in a time of simple need. My in real life people, the women I live my life with, they are gifts. As much as I sometimes prefer to be alone, to keep my troubles close and my insecurities hidden, these women draw them out. They are necessary parts of my healing.
Stephanie asked on her blog, When was the last time you hosted your real life friends and business associates, together, to see what creative genius explodes? And I want to post a similar question for you: When was the last time you gathered your necessary parts, both the women who know you well and those women you wish you knew better, to see what kind of touchable relationship might be born?
(In)courage is attempting to make it easy for you to gather your community together. On April 28th, women all over the country (and the world!) will be hosting and/or attending their own (in)courage in real life conference in their living rooms, backyards, coffee shops, and churches. Want to know more? Lisa-Jo explains it well in this two minute video.
I love what Melissa says, “You don’t want to be vulnerable because you might get hurt. It’s actually a blessing when somebody else is vulnerable because then I have the chance to encourage.” I felt that way, pushing my cart through the grocery store. It wasn’t a grand gesture. It wasn’t a gaping wound I stepped in to heal. It was simply a quiet step towards community, a practical need being met, an easy errand for loved friends. But if we weren’t living life together, I never would have known their need. Perhaps this (in)courage (un)conference gathering could be a bench for you and others in your community to come and sit upon together. Visit the (in) real life website to learn more or to find a meetup near you.