I write this coming out of this crazy Covid-19 season when we isolated ourselves. During this crazy Covid-19 season I was laid off from my church and began a new home church. Because the loneliness was real. Because the isolation was real. Because I hungered to have deep conversations of faith again. And many around my husband and I also hungered for that (I may have been pressured a bit to start this church). Sitting in front of a screen for church just wasn’t enough because we weren’t having these faith conversations.
So we started a church that allows for these conversations. For real, the order of our service makes space for conversations to happen. We meet through Zoom, have added a lot of technology to make the Zoom experience better, and we are gathering other people of various years of faith from different states to have these conversations together. I, as the pastor, have to trust that when I open up a conversation my message may go “off the rails” and be okay with that. Because that conversation may be the Holy Spirit direction that the people need.
We are all surprised at how much we need this. How much our faith has grown and become “live-able.” We are finding how much we have need of each other.
Which makes me think of the beautiful book, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, which taught me that we do have need of each other. This is the story of how the Little Prince made a friend.
“I am looking for friends. What does that mean—tame?
“It is an act too often neglected,” said the fox. “It means to establish ties.”
“To establish ties?”
“Just that, said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you take me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world…” –p. 66
(Must read pp. 67, 68, 69, 70 and 71 also.)
Beautiful. Because my heart wants to be seen as unique in all the world. My heart cries for that. I am faithfully and bravely living out my faith for God so I want my story to be seen by someone. I want to be known.
I want my pain to be known too. This broken-hearted brave life hurts too. This part of me needs to be known too. Especially when there are days—and weeks—when I need someone to carry my pain.
I need this gift of people.
To establish ties means when my heart gets smashed, my people pray for me, remind me of truth, and hold me together, even carrying my pain for me. It’s hard to feel alone in your pain. It’s even harder to feel unknown in your pain. I can be known in my pain.
To establish ties means when I feel “not enough,” my people can point out the lie that is overwhelming me.
To establish ties means that when I experience feeling empty because I am just one person trying to figure this out, my people can join me in it with their good and broken wisdom (I get both) as they tell me and demonstrate to me that I am not alone in this.
To establish ties means that I don’t have to hide my sadness worrying that it may be uncomfortable for others. I am safe to be sad with my people because they know me. Sadness is the beacon that actually signals my people.
To establish ties mean that when I have been gaslit, my people will tell me the truth and show me reality. Gaslit people definitely need safe people.
To establish ties mean that when I am full with anger, someone or someones will hold me accountable and point this anger into a positive direction. Anger signals to me that there is something I value. Anger is part of my righteous fight. Sharing this with your people changes it from something potentially negative to transformative.
To establish ties mean that when my life has this big, wonderful, joyful moment I share it with my people and they feel nearly as much joy as I am. Because they have been with me for both—the joy and the overcoming journey.
Can you imagine going to a church where you have established ties?
Hopefully you have a friend group who provides this for you. We need this gift of people.
Sadly, you are able to feel alone and still be with people. Think of someone in a hospital. There are people everywhere yet it is still a very lonely experience. You can be in a marriage and be so very alone. You can be a part of a church and still be alone.
And loneliness lies to you. (Read about the science of that.)
“Taming” is an act that is too often neglected. We have our reasons for that. Some reasons are legitimate from some legitimate trust issues. Some reasons are simply excuses to keep us safe.
For me to have “established ties” with my church people has grown my faith to be bigger. I’m growing to understand an even bigger God. A bigger God who is writing uniquely beautiful stories in the people I am learning from in our conversations. My faith now has need of each other.
p.s. I don’t pastor a perfect church. We are messy. We are very new. We don’t have children’s ministry yet. But we sure do like each other. Larger Story Church.
(Photo from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery)