Why Community Is Not Optional - Crosswalk Couples Devotional - November 7

Why Community Is Not Optional
By Jen Ferguson

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” - Hebrews 10:24-25, NIV

It’s hard to be real and vulnerable with our problems — problems with our marriage, our children, our habits. We fear judgments. We fear being called out, singled out, potentially lambasted and shamed if we were truly real about our thoughts and behaviors.

I understand. We had those same fears and we did the wrong thing. We kept it all to ourselves until we nearly imploded. See, shame and problems tend to thrive in the darkness. It’s only when they are exposed to light that healing actually begins.

Sometimes, we can fall into the trap that says, “Jesus knows what I’m going through. I’ll just talk to Him about it and ask Him to heal me/us.” First, it is always good to talk to Jesus about our struggles — whether they are individual or marital. Talking to Jesus and sharing our hearts does expose our sins, our heartbreaks, and the darkness that creeps into our souls to light. Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)

But sharing with Jesus does not always complete the fullness of our healing. God created us to be relational beings and as such, we reach a point where it’s difficult to grow spiritually unless we are also growing relationally. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” We need people in our lives who will help us become the best version of ourselves, who can make us aware of our blind spots, who can encourage us when we aren’t sure how to cope. We need continual exposure to the perspective of others because it can be so easy to get lost in our own heads and our own view of the truth.

At the conclusion of one of our pornography addiction support groups for couples, we debriefed together. One of the most powerful things I heard was when one of the men said, “Hearing the other ladies who have husbands addicted to porn say the same things my wife has been saying to me about her feelings, made me realize how valid her feelings really are.”

The truth is, sometimes we are quick to invalidate the feelings of our spouse because to accept them as real often means that there is something within us that needs to change. We fool ourselves into believing that ‘it’s just her’ or ‘it’s just him’ so we have an excuse not to look at ourselves as being the source of strife or pain. But when we have a community on the other side of us reflecting those same things, it’s harder to ignore.

Thinking about this may make you actually want to run away from community, but hear this: the truth spoken with love and grace will change your life. It will make you better. It will make your relationships better. And when you choose to invite God in and make changes in your life, you’ll have a whole cheering squad that keeps you going when it gets hard. You have a cadre of people to celebrate you and your marriage as you find healing, overcome obstacles, and win at your relationship.

Community may look like joining a small group at church. It may mean inviting a few couples you know over for dinner and being real with your own issues. It’s amazing how authenticity and vulnerability often elicit authenticity and vulnerability from others. Someone’s just waiting for another person to go first. Community may look like joining a support group. And sometimes both people in a marriage aren’t ready to engage in community at the same time, so it may look like you or your spouse taking a step into a same-gender community group. Don’t forget: sometimes, engaging with community simply starts with a prayer: “Help me find my people, Jesus” and then walking where He leads.

Jen Ferguson is a wife, author, and speaker who is passionate about helping couples thrive in their marriages. She and her husband, Craig, have shared their own hard story in their book, Pure Eyes, Clean Heart: A Couple’s Journey to Freedom from Pornography and are also creators of the Marriage Matters Prayer Cards. They continue to help couples along in their journeys to freedom and intimacy at The {K}not Project. Jen is also a mama to two girls and two high-maintenance dogs, which is probably why she runs. A lot. Even in the Texas heat.

For More Great Resources for Christian Couples, Visit Crosswalk's Marriage Channel.

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