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  • Writer's pictureSue Bowles

Community at the Crossroads

This will probably end up being a big jumbled mess of random thoughts that somehow end up being woven together at the end. THAT…will be an act of God!

It’s now two weeks later and I have more coherent thoughts to pound out but the topic is the same: Community. I’m still in the ‘pounding out’ process and this is part of that process.

I said I was finding myself angry. I’m past the initial anger but the residual sense of something that needs to change remains. Let me see if I can explain this.

If there is one thing you will hear folks say about the Walking Stick retreats ( it is that the sense of community is very strong. The Facebook room that opens up about 2 weeks before retreat begins the community building process so when we finally get to the retreat we are at least


Experience that for 2.5 days and something happens inside. Something for which we all yearn. We have a place to rest – spiritually, emotionally and mentally (not necessarily physically because we enjoy the fellowship so much). We have a place to belong. We have a place to be ‘me’ – whatever part of ‘me’ is coming out at that moment. We have a


And leaving is the hard part. We are seeds being blown into the wind when we pull out of retreat and head home. We have had the Word imparted to us – planted in us – and when we leave we are to take it with us. And we want to. But therein lies the challenge.

We may not necessarily feel the same at home as we do at retreat. And it’s not even ‘feel’ that way as much as it is ‘experience’ the same thing…or even a close resemblance. For many of us brokenness is a common thread woven


That was my struggle two weeks ago when I got home from retreat. That was the anger I was experiencing. I fell into a bad habit of comparing myself to others and fighting through some jealousy…depth of relationships, thinking someone is ‘better’ at something than I am when in actuality we just do it differently (ex: writing). There were so many things of which I could be envious and that started trying to eat up the seeds that were planted in me during retreat. Thankfully the retreat room is such a safe place that I could even confess those thoughts to the people of whom I was envious! Now THAT’S being comfortable with the uncomfortable! But see what I mean? THAT is community! While I was nervous about sharing – and a bit ashamed – my struggle was met with love and acceptance. Not ONE person said ‘you shouldn’t feel that way’ or ‘you’re wrong for feeling that way.’ Instead it was ‘I get it. I do it too.’ That’s one of the differences


But ultimately at retreat we talked about taking the kingdom experience we had to our communities at home…to be the community. And that thought resonated with me and challenged me. And I had a choice to make: repeat the past or get comfortable with the uncomfortable. I have chosen the latter.

For the last 15 years I’ve been involved in churches but not really connected. My ‘identity’ became what I did….worship team, sound board, youth ministry, etc. I didn’t feel I was known for ‘me.’ I was involved in small groups but had no real connections and really little to no interaction


I am a different person than I was. THANK GOD! I am in a totally different place than I once was. THANK GOD! And as a result I know when something isn’t right or isn’t what God wants. And though it may mean pushing myself out of an INSANE comfort zone, I know it’s the right thing. And here’s what I know is right and what now drives me: 1) I believe I am lovable and that God loves me.

2) I believe that God wants only the best for me and He reaches out to me in community and reaches out to others through me in community.

3) I am building a new foundation on the newly developing realization that I AM valuable to God, that He wants to use me, and I have responsibility to put myself in positions where He can use me.



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