Statistics are notoriously malleable and impersonal, so I try to take them with a grain of salt. They’re so impersonal that I often think of the 18% of this or 62% who’ve done that as "people out there". It’s easy to forget that the number include "people in here". So when I was doing research for my church’s women’s retreat, I thought it was helpful to put real numbers on the stats.
Statistics are notoriously malleable and impersonal, so I try to take them with a grain of salt. They’re so impersonal that I often think of the 18% of this or 62% who’ve done that as "people out there". It’s easy to forget that the number include "people in here". So when I was doing research for my church’s women’s retreat, I thought it was helpful to put real numbers on the stats. Around 35 women came, so statistically speaking, that would mean approximately 26 women in the room dye their hair, about 8 prefer the toilet paper to roll under, not over and about 23 drank coffee before our morning session.
Approximately 5 who came have struggled or will struggle with postpartum depression. Approximately 5 with infertility. We probably had about 4 women who have been physically abused. It’s estimated that 5 of the women who came struggles with at least one addiction. Approximately 10 suffer from depression.
Without community, these statistics are just data. Without community, the 20+ women whose husbands struggle with porn are still all alone. The 10 who have had abortions deal with the guilt and the pain by themselves. The 7 who are victims of incest carry the secret shame by themselves. Without community, the statistics are just numbers. But with authentic, intimate, God-centered community, those numbers become faces and the faces become sisters. For these heartaches and others, we are built to connect.
This weekend, I told the roomful of women a secret, and I’ll let you in on it as well: The Christ-following women in your life are God’s gift to you–just as you’re God’s gift to them. But it only works if we’re open. It only works if we stop trying so hard to look like we’re perfect. Looking perfect is a sham, and it prevents us from being authentic and vulnerable. Trying to look okay on the outside prevents us from becoming okay on the inside.
See, this fallen world is a dangerous place, and we weren’t designed to navigate it alone. God provided you with connections–your tribe, your sisters, your support, sometimes even your life raft. God designed community to bring His love, healing, compassion, restoration, understanding, grace to one another. He destined that, through true community, we’d speak truth into one another’s lives, pick up each other when we’ve stumbled, take care of each other when we need help. In His God-centered plan for connections, we’d constantly point each other back to Him. Through those relationships, we’d make it through this broken world less harmed, more healed, more loving and more loved.
But it’s more than that: True, God-centered Community echoes eternity. As Christ-followers, we’re going to spend forever together. In Heaven, we won’t sin against each other or cause tears. We will experience love, trust, understanding from one another. We will constantly be pointing one another to God. If we do it right, God-centered, God-designed community is literally a little piece of heaven on earth.