“If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” 1 Corinthians 12:26
When I moved to Denver, I was in a long-distance relationship that I assumed was leading to the alter. I had already made my life plan (in my head and unfortunately in my heart) that this young man and I were going to live out our days like a Nicolas Sparks book (but without someone dying in the end). But, as you can already see this story falling apart, he broke up with me and reality hit me hard.
I called up my only two close friends in Denver at the time and told them the news. They asked to meet me for coffee. I was hesitant at first but felt so lonely that I said yes. I got in my car and of course the day was rainy, just as it should be for a “tragedy” like this one. I drove to this tiny hipster coffee shop where the three of us sat alone upstairs in the kids play area. I stared at some kid’s books trying my best not to make eye contact.
They wasted no time in asking how I was “doing” and of course the waterworks began. I spoke of the disappointments and embarrassment I felt, and they listened tenderly. As I cried, tears trickled down their cheeks. They cried for my lost dream, my loneliness and my broken heart. Seeing their tears alongside mine shifted my grief that rainy afternoon.
I walked out of the coffee shop to get back into my car and drive home alone, but I didn’t FEEL so alone anymore.
Don’t underestimate the power of a good cry or the power of a community that cares for one another.
That day, my friends shared in my grief with me. They counted me as important to them and to the overall community. If I was hurting, they were hurting. Rooted community is characterized by a shared grief and joy. When something bad happens to a friend, there should never be a moment of “I told you so” or “she should have known better” but a genuine feeling of loss for the overall community.
In, 1 Corinthians 12:26 is says, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”
So, just as we suffer together we also need to learn the practice of rejoicing for one another.
One year after that breakup, I met the right guy. And, wow, was there a celebration to be had amongst my community. Mentors that had prayed for a future husband and friends that had seen me turn to God and wait on a husband who was going to see and celebrate the way God saw me, celebrated the goodness of a new relationship that turned into an engagement that turned into a marriage.
For women, I think it can be VERY difficult to rejoice together when someone has something good happen to them. Whether it is an engagement you have longed for or a new job or a baby or heck, even the cute new haircut you wish you could pull off (very shallow things but it can still be celebrated) we need to get better at genuinely rejoicing in those good things.
When we learn how to suffer and rejoice with one another, not only are we representing friendships that look different from our climb-over-others-to-seek-success society because we see the wins and losses as a shared gain.
So, as one body, I pray that we share the ailments of one part that is broken and hurting as well as, the health of a fully-functioning and thriving community.
Questions for Your Community:
How do you practice suffering with one another? Is there space for people to share the hard things without judgment?
How do you respond when good news is shared?
In what ways does suffering and rejoicing together create a rooted community?
Host a celebration party for all the good things that have happened this month in your community. Maybe make it on Cake Day and have each person go around and share something good, showing that you rejoice together as a community. Also, communicate the same for when things are hard.