There’s a theme going in my life right now:
We are created to live in community.
No brainer, right?
Not exactly. I have to be honest: staying in community is tough.
I used to depend on my church’s weekly women’s Bible study for my community. We stopped attending because Cami struggled so much being in a room with lots of other kids of differing ages (which meant lots of sensory input to process), it took the rest of our week for both of us to recover.
Finding community is tough not only because of Cami’s hidden disabilities. I have my own baggage and brokenness. What I’m finding lately is that both Cami and I struggle to find community and stay in community.
Because not many folks “get” us.
Our lives don’t look like any other families’ that I know of. Take our church attendance, for example. Cami struggles with crowds, so for awhile, my husband and I took turns going to church so Cami wouldn’t have to. Our local church has three services, so that solution worked for several months: Michael attended the first service and came home in time for me to attend the third service.
Then out of the blue, one Sunday Cami decided she wanted to go to church. So we took her to the service we thought would have the least amount of kids. She did okay by taking her sketch journal and drawing through the entire children’s service. She didn’t remember the Bible story or any of the activities because she didn’t participate.
But at least we were at church every week, right? At least she was in a room with kids her own age and not melting down afterwards, right?
On Easter Sunday, her Sunday school class held a VBS-type festival, so Cami chose to attend “big church” with me. I was nervous: past experiences with Cami and large crowds have seldom worked well. We chose to attend the special afternoon service because we thought it would have the least amount of people. I encouraged her to take her sketch journal, and we sat near the back on the end in case we needed to leave quickly.
Cami in big church was not what I was expecting. We were two of 624 people standing, singing, and sitting together. She didn’t sing any of the songs, even though some of them were her favorite worship songs. She drew pictures of stars and cats while our pastor preached about heaven, what it will be made of and how big it will be. I didn’t see her look up at all until it was time to leave.
Cami then spent the afternoon playing outside with all her friends, her “community.” My husband said I was trying to “manage her” that day. I think I was waiting for the meltdown.
But Cami didn’t melt down. She spent the afternoon sharing with the neighborhood kids how the City in Heaven will look like transparent green jasper; how the gates in the City wall will always stay open; how Heaven’s City will be a perfect cube with each side measuring 1,500 miles; and how there won’t be any need for the sun, moon, or stars because Jesus will light up everything all the time.
Shut my mouth.
Thank You, Jesus, that Your Word always accomplishes what it is sent out to perform. Thank You that You guide my daughter’s heart, that You choose her community, that You love her well. Lord, please, help me to trust You with my precious girl, with her hidden disability quirks that potentially isolate her. Help me to let You build her community.
And Lord? Help me to trust You to build my community, to give me exactly who I need to be my friend–even if she doesn’t look like what I expect.
Laying down my expectations for what “church” and “community” is “supposed” to look like,