I made a challenge to myself at the beginning of Small Group this year to do something outside of Church (e.g. go to coffee) with every woman from my Small Group. I put the criteria on my challenge that I was supposed to at least try to serve the lady in at least one small way (e.g. buy her coffee) during our time out together. The main reasons was that I was feeling a disconnect from women at The Rock, and a longing for women fellowship, encouragement and accountability. I figured that starting with the ladies in my small group would be the best place to start as these ladies would see me more often. Therefore, I would not be able to chicken out as much, or if I did chicken out I would have more opportunities to connect with them. I was longing for strong christian women to be actively involved in my life, to build into me and challenge me. The second reason, was that I knew I needed to step outside of my comfort zone, as I can usually be timid until someone else makes the relational first move. I knew that my attitude was getting frustrated and bitter. I was finding myself sitting back wondering what was wrong with me that no one in the four years that I had been going to The Rock ever invited me out to coffee. I was failing to notice that the lies I was allowing myself to believe were actually blinding me to attempts women had made to reach out to me. I really didn't think women wanted to get to know me. Also I was allowing my insecurities to continue to keep me back from enjoying the fellowship from Christian women I so badly desired. The last reason I challenged myself to do this is because I wanted to get to know my Church family more so that One; I could serve them better so that they could see my strong desire to live for Christ and two; they could serve me better to help me become more spiritually mature. We are now nearing the end of the year and I have been blessed in so many ways by putting the lies I was believing and my insecurities aside. I chose to trust God and ask Him for courage. I chose to ask God to help me with my insecurities and discouraged thoughts. I chose to believe the best about my Christian Sisters trusting that God was working through their lives just as He was working through mine. I chose to realize that my Sisters at the Rock were on my team, and that just like me they desired to serve God and live for Him. I choose to defend them in my thoughts, to pray for them when I got the chance and by letting go of control God has been able to change not only my feelings but also the direction my relationships were going at The Rock. Things are not 100% perfect, I still desire stronger, deeper relationships, but in time I trust that this will happen as all relationships take time. However, I know that God has blessed me through my personal challenge and things are moving now in the right direction. I have definitely learned the importance of the body of Christ and my desperate need for God and the Church in my life. I am so proud and happy to be apart of The Rock as together we continue to build into one another. Feel free to challenge yourself with the same thing or something similar if you feel like you could benefit from deeper relationships at The Rock. Ask yourself, "what am I doing to serve my Church?" Trust me God will use it!
More encouragement about this in Ephesians 4:17-32.
"So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.
You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.