Connecting in Community (in)RL

“What does that mean? Vulnerability? Do all your relationships have to be that way?” I wondered that same thing for many years, but still, I desire deep connection.


It took me a long time to admit that I need people. I want to also be needed — to be relied on for babysitting or for a cup of sugar when needed, and so much more — a deeper connection, still.

I have come along way, and I am not willing to go back. A few short years ago I escaped a prison of my own making – for many hard years, afraid of showing people who I really was. Hiding the shame, the weakness, the insecurity — fearful if I showed myself unveiled they would decide they didn’t like what they saw. With heart closed — I walked, viewing God, at times, through the people that hurt me.


“God doesn’t love us any less when friendship turns out to be hard or lonely”.

(in)courage


I closed myself off from people. In doing so, I also closed myself off from God. The wall I built around my heart with bricks of disappointment, broken-trust and pain, also kept God out. The result was the decay of my soul. I could not cease the flow of love towards people and hinder the flow of love from people and expect to still have the flow of God’s Spirit in my life. My usefulness was gone.


You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage — You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this — I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand — shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 MSG

This scripture, these Words of Truth, freed an imprisoned soul. These are the words that still compel me to open-up heart-wide, and, today, convince me to hit the PUBLISH button.


Vulnerability is the most valuable gift I have that I can offer a friend.
What other treasure do I have to offer from myself, except an open heart? Not everyone wants to see someone transparent, but only someone that is transparent allows light to shine through, and if I am really living and walking in the Light, as He is in the Light, we have true, unbroken fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 1John 1:7


This desire for this true kind of fellowship with His daughters, my sisters, I am unwilling to give-up. Sometimes courageously afraid I pour out and let Him pour in — knowing nothing is really lost  that which we we offer to God — especially offered true. I never know what BIG thing God can do when I offer what SMALL thing I have in my hands?


So, these immersurable gifts here I count.

The Father lavishing His love on me — on us.


350. If it wasn’t for a tweet from beautiful friend, Alene from Positively Alene, “Are y’all participating #inRL this weekend?”  I would have missed it. I did not realize there was a webcast. I almost missed this meet-up that (in)courage designed for cultivating community.

351. This inRL, was a gathering of woman that I witnessed from behind a back-lit screen. “The (in)RL webcast was packed with vulnerable, funny, honest, insightful, nitty gritty stories about friendship and finding our way toward (in) real life community. The highs, the lows and everything in between.” (in)courage

352. Stories were shared, hearts poured out, and God Spirit permeated every bit of it — and every bit of it authentic. No masks. No pretense. No image to protect.

353. I cried as I watched. I wept as I listened. Floodgates burst wide open — I completely emptied and God completely filled. inRL left me undone. I didn’t know. I really didn’t know how much God is in this.

354. Tears flowed — GOOD tears — and heart flooded with so much joy and hope for the future in relationships, both with God and others (in) REAL-LIFE.

355. I didn’t know it could be this good — grace-filled community – this freedom in learning to live without the fear of losing love and acceptance if the job of transformation gets too messy.

356. I am inspired to live full-out my days, glad to be journeying together with so many in community — online and (in)real-life — doing REAL-LIFE together.

357. A community with friends where it’s okay to be “un-fine” and find grace, healing and encouragement.

358. “A community sincere –without wax that hide the cracks and the blemishes.” Tsh 

359. “The REAL cost is us not being perceived as perfect — but will always be worth the investment.” Lisa-Jo

360. Together, as we walk in His Light — pour life and life fills, from one heart to another, and the soul is nourished, as this true kind of fellowship is of spirit. This kind of real life community, is a gift He paid for by His blood.

361. We are one Body. We were created to be inter-dependent and the enemy of our souls would not want it that way because then we are better for it — better able to rise in our call and promise as we are co-heirs with Christ, blessed with every spiritual blessing — to reach the lost for His glory.

No, no — the devil does not want that — but TOO BAD.


362. There is JOY and strength in connecting in community, with hearts-bare, grace-filled, God-breathed relationships, for His purpose, that strengthen, empower, and encourage us so that we may fulfill our call to bring the Gospel of Grace to the lost and hurting and wounded.


By His grace, we can find them. By His grace, I did – (in) Real Life.

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  • http://www.thisjourneyourlife.com Rachel

    Beautiful thoughts–can relate to alot of the same feelings and by God’s grace I’m learning to offer the gift of vulnerability more often. I had previously “liked” your page on FB and once again I’m so glad I came across your blog–I’m LOVING it! =) Thanks for sharing…!

    • http://www.alifesurrendered.com Michele-Lyn

      Rachel,

      You are so sweet and encouraging… truly. I truly do believe that we can show people the love and grace of God by just being open and true. Although, it has not been an easy walk to get to the point where I am not afraid of people… I am so grateful for all the amazing people that have come into my life as a result. I wouldn’t even be here writing you right now and I would have missed out on the blessing of such a kind-hearted woman of God…

      Together, we find our way :)

      Blessings to you,

      Michele

  • http://www.reflectionsofhisgrace.com Joan

    Michele – I love what you said here: “Not everyone wants to see someone transparent, but only someone that is transparent allows light to shine through…”

    I just commented on Mari’s (part of our SDG group) blog about people wanting to see the “real” us. After reading your post, it caused me to think, “Do I want real when all someone does is complain about their circumstances?” Or, “Do I want real when someone gives praises to God in spite of their circumstances?”

    At the same time, we need to compassionate and show the love of Christ.

    I’m thankful for this cyber world community through blogging, SDG, and our new SDG group.

    Blessings,
    Joan

    • http://www.alifesurrendered.com Michele-Lyn

      Joan,

      You ask some thought provoking questions here. I have pondered them over the last couple of hours. I think complaining is more of a bad habit, and a wrong mindset, than actually being vulnerable and trusting someone with your heart. For those who do not choose thanks, we offer grace and counter the negativity with Phil 4:8 thoughts :)

      I am thankful, with you, for community online. God is doing amazing things in our hearts and lives. He is bringing healing and pouring love.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts here.

      Blessings to you,

      Michele-Lyn

  • http://sarahkocischeilz.wordpress.com Sarah

    Michele-Lyn, this is wonderful! Community is such a treasured gift. Grateful to be getting to know you through SDG and the blog world!

    • http://www.alifesurrendered.com Michele-Lyn

      Sarah,

      I knew your face looked familiar. It will take me a little bit to get to know everyone, but I kept seeing you on Twitter and couldn’t place it :)

      It is great to know you… blessings friend.

  • http://dkarambling.blogspot.com Dionne

    Yes, vulnerability is the greatest gift we can give to friends. My closest friends…I can only count on one hand with a finger left…expose their real selves and I to them and that is why we are so close. Love your blog. Thanks for sharing with an honest self!

    • http://www.alifesurrendered.com Michele-Lyn

      Dionne,

      I do believe that the more open the relationship, the stronger the bond. God can do amazing things in friendships like that. They have so much eternal value.

      Thank you for leaving me such encouraging words here…

      Blessings to you :)

  • Stacey

    So fun to have “met” you in the Twitter stream for #inrl! Looking forward to meeting you and having you at the next live meet up!

    Blessings!

    • http://www.alifesurrendered.com Michele-Lyn

      Stacey,

      I cannot we have been so close all this time :) Yes… Twitter is an amazing thing! It has been really great meeting you.

      Blessings to you…

  • http://www.audrasilva.com Audra Silva

    So beautiful, open, and honest. I love your heart.

    • http://www.alifesurrendered.com Michele-Lyn

      Audra,

      Thank you sweet friend. You bless me so much :)

  • Lorna

    I feel very blessed to have found you, your blog, and these other sisters who are following and posting. It does my heart good to know there are others who wish to connect ~ I have found that very lacking in ‘real’ life, off-line. The Lord and I are working on tearing the walls of my heart down. I love the idea of “us being the paintbrush He colors the world with” ~ what FUN <3 I can't wait to see the colors that come out of others as they realize the Love and Grace He offers and they accept <3

    • http://www.alifesurrendered.com Michele-Lyn

      Lorna,

      Thank you. Your words bless me more than you know. This weekend has done my heart good as well. I almost gave up on the “dream” of connection. I always craved something down deep in my friendships. I am finding it online and I am also finding that it helps me better connect with those in real life. It is a process, isn’t it?

      The more we can walk in His love and grace, the less difficult it becomes to offer it to others and receive it from others. We trust Him with our hearts :)

      Blessings to you..

  • http://www.janmary.com janmary, N Ireland

    So glad you found out about it in time to be part of it.

    I too learned so much.

    • http://www.alifesurrendered.com Michele-Lyn

      Janmary,

      It was truly life-changing. I am so glad I got to be also. I appreciate (in)Courage :)

  • http://www.toshowthemjesus.com Christina

    It’s a huge step of trust to reach out and share what’s behind our masks. We are all in the same boat, all fallen sinners, yet we often cover it up and act like it’s not true. What would our churches look like if we were more transparent and honest with each other? Beautiful post and wonderful list!

    • http://www.alifesurrendered.com Michele-Lyn

      Christina,

      I truly believe that we find the deepest joy and the strongest and most fulfilling relationships, when we can be open and honest without getting offended. I am blessed to have many of these kinds of friends. We really are all in this together.

      Thank you for your encouraging words here. Blessings to you, friend.

  • http://kaiyaslaughterheals.blogspot.com/ Court

    What a lovely image that is, and I never thought about us being the paintbrush he colors the world with… that is a fabulous idea! Maybe the things that hurt us, like migraines, are like bruises… deep purple which looks fabulous next to lighter colors. All for his glory, all of this, I hope.

    • http://www.alifesurrendered.com Michele-Lyn

      Court,

      I love the how the Message Bible translates the word. It is beautiful and real. What a profound analogy you share here. I too, deal with migraines — 2 weeks out of the month. I know how debilitating they can be. Praying for your deep purple you have… I will think of you when I am wearing mine.

      Blessings to you…

  • r.elliott

    Oh I am learning these same lessons my friend…and being set free from my prison…oh the joy:) Oh i love God Calling…read it daily…will be a sweet thought of you and i reading the same words each day…love it…have a great monday…blessings~

    • http://www.alifesurrendered.com Michele-Lyn

      Roseann,

      Ah… I have not met anyone else who has read The Calling… how sweet :) It was written almost 100 years ago, wasn’t it?

      It is wonderful.

      Blessings to you my sweet encouraging friend.

  • http://holycamp09.wordpress.com Deborah

    Wonderful recap. It was great and I’m so glad you got to come. I look forward to being in community with you!

    • http://www.alifesurrendered.com Michele-Lyn

      Deborah,

      Thank you so much! I am so very glad that for all the blessings of community. It truly is REAL. I have so much joy and feel so much love. God is in this…

  • http://onlyhere-onlynow.blogspot.com HopeUnbroken

    great thoughts on a great weekend. you’ve expressed it all so well.
    i feel encouraged all over again! :-)
    blessings to you this day,
    steph

    • http://www.alifesurrendered.com Michele-Lyn

      HopeUnbroken,

      Thank you for saying so and thank you for stopping by. It was a wonderful weekend (in)RL.

      Have a most blessed day :)

  • http://www.youaremygirls.com Jennifer @ You Are My Girls

    Love this, friend. Yes, what a gift it is to each of our hearts — the person sharing and the person listening — when a sister chooses to trust her heart and be vulnerable, trusting that, no matter what, He is her safe place. And together, with Him, with His Spirit in the center, we can’t go wrong. Thank you for the blessing of your sharing! I loved the webcast, too! I almost saw all the videos– but a couple. So thankful.

    • http://www.alifesurrendered.com Michele-Lyn

      Jennifer,

      Your comment came at the most perfect time the day you left it for me. I just stand in awe, and wonder while I look at the mess on the outside — and the inside — how I could walk in such blessing from God. But then I remember, it is not because I am good, but because He is GOOD.

      Thank you for being a friend… and encourager :)

  • http://myfreshlybrewedlife.com/ Barbie

    This community has made me stronger. I missed the webcast (sad face) but have been so blessed through the recap posts of so many. And I do “like” your Facebook page!

    • http://www.alifesurrendered.com Michele-Lyn

      Barbie,

      You can still order the dvd’s. They would be so worth it :) Thank you for the LIKE and thank you for so much more!

      Glad to know you :)

  • http://simplystriving.wordpress.com Nikki

    Beautiful post, friend.
    “only someone that is transparent allows light to shine through”
    oh so true.
    And friend–you are beautiful. I see the light through you!

    So thankful Alene urged you to join in! yay!

    Hugs to you!
    All for Him,
    Nikki

    • http://www.alifesurrendered.com Michele-Lyn

      Nikki,

      I am so grateful to Alene. I did not even realized there was a webcast. I am not sure where I was all this time :) but I am so glad I was a part of it… it has become a part of me. Thank you for your generous and kind words for me here.

      Blessings to you,

      Michele

  • http://alwaysalleluia.com Kris

    Beautiful recap here. What a gift THIS community is! :) So thankful you didn’t miss the #inRL conference ;) God knew you needed it! He is so gracious.

    • http://www.alifesurrendered.com Michele-Lyn

      Kris,

      Thank you my dear friend. Been thinking of you today :) Hope you are well… truly.