This week as our dog and I walked around our neighborhood we came upon a small snapping turtle crossing the road.  Turtles are among my favorite animals and I was excited to see this one safely making its way across the road to a nearby pond.  My dog and I stopped a few feet back to take a glance at the turtle’s progress.  The small but steady animal let us get a little bit closer and a little bit closer.  Right about the time my dog decided to give this new friend a little sniff, the turtle turned its entire body around and violently snapped.  Of course, my dog jumped and backed off quickly.  She had no idea that this friendly looking, laid-back and slow going animal could be so fierce. 

Sometimes it is slow to get to know one another, isn’t it?  Community has been building since the launch of Abingdon Women at the blog and online thanks to the ease of social media.  It’s actually amazing that women from all across the country of varying stages in life and culture join together in this community to receive encouragement and inspiration for daily living. 

As we’ve very briefly studied Her Restless Heart together we’ve asked a lot of questions about why our hearts are restless and we’ve chatted about the fact that only God can fill those hearts.  There is a sense among many of the responses that have been shared that most of us are longing for deeper community to encourage us and remind us of God’s love.  We are longing to connect with other women who share our longings and heart’s desires.  Whatever the reason, it seems these days many of us are also missing out on this community support in real life because we either don’t make time for it or our life situations change.  Whatever distracts us from remembering that community is part of how God made us is getting in the way of connecting with others and getting to know each other genuinely.  There is also the turtle approach to community.  We slowly let others get close and then when they are too close, we snap back and the new friends slowly back away.  One thing I’ve noticed while leading Bible studies, offering retreats and spiritual direction is that sometimes we simply don’t want others to get too close and we snap just like that turtle.

And so we return to the turtle and the dog.  Yes, it is hard to get to know others, especially those who we see as different than ourselves.  However, snapping at those who get too close often just forces them to walk away.  Are you allowing others to get close to you or do you snap when the space gets tight?  God is always there for us but community is what often helps us move out of our shells.  We open up and become vulnerable with others in community.  It isn’t always comfortable, but it does touch our hearts in a deeper way when we choose to be vulnerable and real with others.

Living in community builds us up and makes us stronger; it often keeps us from snapping and walking away lonely.  Do you let others get close to your heart?  Or, do you push back at community and the opportunity to be vulnerable and real with others?  What is one thing you could do this week to deepen your relationship with others and grow in community?

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their hard work.  If either should fall, one can pick up the other. But how miserable are those who fall and don’t have a companion to help them up!  Also, if two lie down together, they can stay warm. But how can anyone stay warm alone? Also, one can be overpowered, but two together can put up resistance. A three-ply cord doesn’t easily snap.  –Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 CEB

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