Community As A Place That Supports Transition

The past few weeks have been interesting as I engaged in reading about the concept of intentional community, shaped around the principle that one is called to love God with all soul, strength and might and then to love one’s neighbor as one loves self.  My reading has helped me to see that community can be God’s gift in providing shelter, refuge and a nurturing covering of wings.

Transition is supported when a community provides a safe place for transition to happen.  In many ways, the community provides both a safety net and a place of loving challenge to help the transition take place.  In her book, Widening the Circle: Inspiration and Guidance for Community Living,  Debra Hogland writes, “It is a sign of the maturity of the community when we are not fixing, rescuing and altering one another’s process, but instead supporting each other through it.  A real safety and trust is created when we give each other space to do whatever is needed, and when we hold a context of wholeness for one another regardless of the details of the healing crisis we may be experiencing.” (p. 256)

The Church “macro” – formal, institutional denominations – do not always feel like a safe place for transition and change to happen.  My experience is that the Church “micro” – members of the Body of Christ – provides a wonderful place of safety. In the many recent transitions in my life, there have been individuals and groups who have listened, cared, supported and blessed me on the way.  Because of the safety they continue to provide, I am able to question and explore and seek the direction that God has for my life.

Transition best happens in a loving and caring community that is centered in Christ, glorifies God and serves neighbor.  Community that is real provides a place of trusted relationships where healing can take place and ideas can be explored.  Members of community don’t attack; rather they ask, in love, the questions that need to be asked.  Members of community pray for and with me as I struggle along the way and they celebrate with me each time I hit a plateau, which becomes a place of rest before journeying to the next level.

As God leads me through the transition process, I have learned that I need a safe space in which to grow.  When I explore a new idea, I need loving and clarifying questions, but I do not need criticism, judgment and accusation.  When I seek truth, I need people who will listen and care and provide a space for me to jabber on until I come to a place that feels right, without accusing me of heresy or some other awful label.

It is a wonderful gift when one is blessed to be in community with those who listen with the heart of God.

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