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You Can Rise.

I know what it’s like to wish somebody would listen.

I know what it’s like to be the target of rumors and gossip, and one-sided narratives without being allowed to defend yourself. I know what it is like to be penalized in the court of public opinion by people who don’t seem interested in getting the true story. I know what it is like to be left behind by friends and trusted people, who decide your pain is inconvenient. I know what it’s like to be written off by people who feel the need to take sides in situations they were never involved in. I know what it’s like to be the victim of a horrible situation, yet expected to apologize to the perpetrators for the sake of navigating bureaucracy and “moving forward”.

I know what it’s like to wish someone would show up to help!

I know what it’s like to walk through pain and wish somebody would show up to meet you.

In my case, no one really stopped to listen. My life stopped suddenly in the blink of an eye, but it doesn’t mean that anyone else’s life did. And at the same time, my friends and community knew the injustice I had experienced, and I hoped that they'd show up for me the way I would have for them, were the roles reversed.

Perhaps they weren’t sure what I needed.

I wasn’t sure what I needed.

Beyond spending time with God, and grieving the unfortunate scenario. I wasn’t sure how to move forward. When I think back to the immediate aftermath, I think what I needed was encouragement--I needed some people to speak life. I needed people to believe in my dreams and remind me of my calling. I was questioning so many things- how could I ever operate in ministry in a church environment that protected and honored racist pastors and leaders while demonizing the victims of their racism? How could a Church movement I loved and was about to be licensed to minister in allow this to happen? Why didn't anyone protect me?

I needed some people to pray with me and link arms with me spiritually. I needed people to demand accountability and advocate for justice for me. I needed practical wisdom-- I had never experienced anything like what I went through, and all the people who I knew that had, were (at the time) nowhere to be found. I needed people to extend to me a helping hand.

Why am I telling you this? It’s not because I want you to feel bad for me. What’s done is done, and it’s through the way things played out that God taught me what I know now. I share this element of my story because it’s often said, and normally true, that as Christians we shouldn’t do life alone. We need community.

Community can be a very healing, and a very powerful part of life. We should always fight to be in a healthy community, especially when we are hurting.

Isolation is the enemy’s stomping ground.

It’s where his lies are the loudest. It’s where truth gets stifled. I can see the many ways that having community would have helped me, if I’d had it in that season.

But here is my point: I did not isolate myself by choice. I fought to find people and community in the aftermath of what I went through, because I knew that it was good. I knocked on many doors with my metaphorical bag of pain in tow, ready to open up and process, and reconnect and move forward if someone would let me enter. Instead, most of these conversations started and ended at the doorway. And at some point, I realized I was doing all the knocking--no one was coming to me. Strangers listened and showed up more than people I’d known for the better part of my life. People who I’d invited into the most vulnerable places of my life, people who had my phone number, functioned more as spectators than community in that season. I fought to find people, but I was not successful.

For whatever you have walked through or are currently walking through, I know first-hand how tempting it can be to isolate. To feel you are an inconvenience, or that you dampen the mood because you’re going through something. Resist that temptation with all your might!

I didn’t find people at that time of my life, but that doesn’t mean you won’t. There may be people ready and waiting with open arms who want to walk with you and help you navigate what you’ve faced. God might have brought you the people that will usher in the healing work He intends to do in your life.

Lean in to, and on to your community if you have it-- for it is a gift.

But if you truly have no people right now-- if you’ve fought to find community but community hasn’t made space for you. If you’ve attempted to open up and have been met by impatient ears, or attempts to minimize your pain rather than listen, it doesn’t mean that your story is hopeless.

You can rise.

I remember this moment vividly-- I woke up one day because of the sunlight leaking through the blinds. I hadn’t slept well, as usual. I rolled over to grab my phone to see the time, I figured it was early, and I wanted to know how early. As I checked my screen, on this specific day, I noticed something of a trend. I had no notifications. None. From any of my apps. My phone had been like that all week. I looked at the date, and saw that it was November--it’d been more than three months since everything happened. Then it dawned on me. In all that time—no one had checked on me. It was painful to realize in the moment. But that reality reminded me of a truth we often minimize.

God always gives us His full attention.

I know that wanting to feel seen and heard is a desire built into our humanity, but that’s why this is so significant— to consider that right this minute, we have the attention of heaven. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords is listening to us.

He listens to our questions. He listens to our frustrations. He listens to us when we cry to him. He is listening even when no one else is.

It is only when I experienced the absence of community that I learned how easy it is to minimize the attention of heaven, because we’ve prioritized the attention of people.

We were created to commune with God, and if the most important ears in the universe are listening to us, then we should want our lives to value God’s attention above any other attention.

I didn’t rise because people showed up, I rose because God showed up. Or maybe, more accurately, He never left. While having people would have been a blessing-- even without, I wasn’t in lack. Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith, continued to write my story. He met me in my heartache and lifted my head. It doesn’t matter who isn’t with you. It matters who is. God is. And that is enough!

In fact he’s more than enough.

For whatever you’re facing, there is only one person who is able to truly comfort you. There is only one person who is able to heal, and mend, and restore. There is only one person who can take what the enemy meant for evil and use it for good. There is one person who can break chains and set the oppressed free. There is only one person who can turn your struggles around— that person is Jesus! He is enough.

I know you feel like you are in lack. But Jesus is enough— he’s the source! There’s nothing He can’t do. Having people is a good thing and a gift, but in this season, it’s probably time to do a reliance check. Who were you relying on? Who is your hope in?

Hope in people is hope misplaced. But hope in the Lord is hope that NEVER fails.

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