Community Series: What About When No One Shows Up?

What about when no one shows up? This is a question I’m asked a lot, and I don’t love it because it doesn’t have an easy answer. So much hurt lies behind this question. So many have been wounded by the words and actions of others. Or by the lack of words and actions of others. There are so many places to make mistakes in doing community, I almost want to throw in the towel before I even start attempting to do this with others.

But it’s an important question—one that so many are facing. And here are my thoughts—five things for all of us, on both sides of this dance, to remember.

  1. We’re human and we make mistakes. Both the ones showing up and the sufferers. This will be true, no matter who your community is. Grace is the name of the game. You’re going to have to forgive people for some stuff. I can think of a lot of stupid things I’ve said that make me cringe. I hope and pray people have grace with me like I want to have with them. At the same time, I know those hurts run deep. Lord, help us to have grace with each other.
  2. We can’t be Jesus. No one is going to completely fill this hole on earth. No one is going to solve all of our heartache or show up in exactly the right ways without offending. Kara didn’t just rely on us, she rested in Jesus first and foremost. We’re human and broken, and it’s impossible for us to be anything but that. Only God does love perfectly.
  3. When community isn’t showing up, pray. This might sound like a cheap, cop out answer, but is it really? God wants us in community with one another. I remember praying for friends, and he answered that. But he didn’t answer it overnight. Ask him to show you your part. Ask him for the people you need and want. Ask him to help you be that person for others.
  4. Keep trying. PURSUE EACH OTHER. Mickey put it this way in the podcast we did (I’m going to butcher her quote, but it was something like this…): Ninety percent of the time it might not work. But keep trying. Because when it does work, it will be beautiful. Keep going until you find people who want community the way you do. It’s worth it.
  5. Share your messy. I’m not saying to dump it all out on social media. I wouldn’t do that either. But can you find one person or a small group? Can you find a few safe people to truly be yourself with? If you begin to open up about your hard, maybe they will begin to open up about theirs. This was unique about Kara—she shared her hard and her faith. Some suffering is quiet. We can’t be there for you if you don’t open up and tell us what’s going on. And if you’ve been hurt before, opening up is likely to be hard. Ask God to guide you to safe people and to make you into that safe person yourself.

I won’t pretend to have all of the answers. I know this post isn’t going to fix what you are going through. I am asked this question a lot, and these are some of the thoughts that have formed over listening to others and trying to figure out this dance. If you’re brokenhearted and lonely, I’m sorry. More sorry than you’ll ever know or what will come across in these typed words. I want to encourage you that you are loved more than you can imagine by a God who knows your every step, even when the person next to you has no idea what’s going on in your life.

For those with hurting hearts about community, this is my prayer for you today…

Lord, we’re broken and wounded and this earth can feel like a pretty overwhelming place. Will you bring us people to love and who will love us? Will you help us take the first step when it feels like climbing a mountain? And if we’ve been disappointed before, comfort our broken hearts and give us new hope. Helps us to put our faith in you. And if community is not your answer for this moment of life, if we’re being asked to walk without the people we crave right now, will you show up so big in our lives that we can feel your presence and know that you love us, even when we don’t understand what’s going on. Help us to love each other big. Give us the love that stretches from your strength, not ours. Amen.

Have you been hurt in community before? How did you move past that into new hope and relationships? How have you used past experiences to shape how you are there for others? Has God asked you to walk a season without the community you crave? How did you handle that? Do you have any encouraging words for others who are going through a dry season of community?