Stop Saying You’re Sorry. Thoughts on True Community.

stay in the mess

“Stop saying you’re sorry. You say it all the time.”

“I do? Oh, I’m sorry.”

Their looks said it all. Then we dissolved into laughter.

“Seriously though, you don’t need to say you’re sorry; you’ve done nothing wrong. And you say it a lot when you talk about Jon.”

She was right. I thought I talked about him too much. Perhaps my friends were tired of hearing the same stories? Perhaps they were weary of memories replayed? Somewhere along the way, I began to feel self-conscious.

They have their own sorrow. Their grief is fresher. One friend is approaching the year mark, and it’s been merely a couple months for the other. I don’t want to draw attention to my own hurts when they are still in the raw, deep places.

I want to comfort. I want to listen and let them talk (or not talk). I want to help bear the heavy weight, as so many have done for me. Laughter turned to tears. “But death is so much nearer for you. I should be here for you. I want to carry your grief. So, I shouldn’t talk about my own.”

These priceless friends wouldn’t have it. And this is what they said.

“But it still hurts. And you still need to talk about him. When you grieve with us, it shows us we have freedom to struggle.”

“It’s beautiful that you let people see reality. You don’t wear a mask, and that gives hope. Jesus takes the junk.

“Your sorrow is still valid. Your husband died.”

“And you need to remember that this is a safe place. We carry each other.”

“Yeah, I mean we just take turns crying, right? It’s what we do.”

And then we laughed again.

This is community, the friends who carry the crushing burdens together. We laugh until our sides hurt. We weep together. We’re family.

My friends weren’t intentional teachers that day, but their words have stuck with me.

Stop Saying You're Sorry - Living in true, Christ-driven community means letting others accept your good, bad, and ugly.

For me that means, don’t make “I’m sorry” a defense mechanism. Don’t use it to put up walls or change the subject. Sometimes I use “I’m sorry” when I think I’m the only one who struggles. And that is just a lie.

“I’m sorry” is for asking forgiveness. The words exist in conjunction with “I was wrong.” They are for turning from sin, but they are not for talking about struggle. For when I use them in that context, I rob others the opportunity to bless.

Loving one another is mutual care, compassion, and sacrifice. It is speaking the truth in love. It is serving. But sometimes it’s a willingness to be served. It’s giving and receiving.

Community- It means I can stop saying I’m sorry.

According to Webster, community is “a group of people who live near each other, or have a particular characteristic in common.” Communities rally around a plethora of interests- sports, board games, causes, trends, pop culture, you name it. Yet these are shadows.

True community exists when Christ is the focus. Jesus called it His body. (I Corinthians 12, Ephesians 5) A body’s parts are woven together, utterly dependent on the others for the good of the whole. One part can’t hurt without the entire body feeling it. One part can’t rejoice without the entire body rejoicing also. Like a physical body, each part needs the rest.

If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored all rejoice together.”(I Cor. 12:26).

True community runs deeper than exchanging pleasantries once a week at worship gathering. It’s more than potlucks. It’s even more than prayer meetings. Christ-driven community exists when we’re willing to get dirty, be vulnerable, do ugly, and stay in the mess for as long as it takes.

Gospel community

…meets each other’s needs (Acts 4:32)

This looks like actually knowing the need and doing something about it. It could be groceries, a box of kleenexes, or merely a listening ear. It could be a single mom arriving home to a freshly made bed with clean sheets.

…speaks the gospel (Galatians 6:1, 1 Corinthians 15)

This is what my friends did for me. “Jesus takes the junk.” Sometimes we need others to tell us truth when we struggle to tell ourselves. This looks like speaking the realities of reconciliation, adoption, redemption into each others’ lives.

…takes off the masks (James 5:16, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Folks who dwell in real community know it’s okay to struggle and to let others see the struggle. Because Jesus was perfect, we don’t have to be. Grace says there is freedom to be weak.

perfect jesus

…reconciles with each other (Ephesians 4:32)

If I am part the body of Christ, then refusing to reconcile would be like cutting off my own arm. Enough said.

…prays for one another (Acts 1:14, James 5:16)

…loves one another (I John 3:11, John 13)

This is the love that sacrifices, that gives, and puts its own selfishness aside.

…bears burdens together (Galatians 6:2)

This is the devastating load that is too big for one to bear alone.

…knows it’s a family (2 Thessalonians 1:3, Hebrews 2:11)

One of my favorite things is “family night.” Most of my community group doesn’t have blood family in town, but we still have family. Each week we take turns cooking dinner for “the family.” We sit around the table and dive into each other lives. I need these people. And I think it’s safe to say we’d take bullets if it came to that.

Viewed this way, community is no longer an obligation or an “extra thing.” Rather it’s necessary for my spiritual health. I need others to point out my blind spots.

True Community fosters God’s intended plan for the church- a family, woven tightly together, a body interconnected and interdependent.

As for me, I’ve stopped saying I’m sorry.


The post by Ami, appeared first at  Intentional By Grace.

Fear. With the force of many waters.

fear not“What if something happens to him?”

My friend’s voice broke, her tears flowed. Fear. Anxiety. Unknowns.

We put our hands on her and prayed that test results would come back negative. We prayed for God’s protection. But we also affirmed that God is good even if He chooses not to heal.

We prayed for peace, rest, and calm hearts. We prayed that ultimately God would be glorified, that He would use this circumstance for the sake his kingdom.

My own tears formed. Empathy was deep in that moment, and I understood the struggle. Her words took me back to when I asked the same question.

I thought of the journal entries.

12-26-12
Father consume our hearts with you. Use us as instruments for the sake of the gospel.

12-27-12
Because I deserve every ounce of God’s wrath, any drop of blessing makes my cup full and overflowing. It overflows because Jesus has imparted all of his righteousness to me and has given me every spiritual blessing.

12-29-12
Lord, thank you for protecting Jon. At the emergency room, you kept our hearts in peace. There is still time to prepare for surgery. For now, it’s as simple as a change in medication. Truly my cup runs over.

Following the first trip to the ER we had a time of overwhelming tenderness and affection. I remember my husband pulling me into a bear hug as he said, “I just love you so much. I can’t even contain how much I love you. I just want to be near you and never let you go.”

Jon was always lavish in his affection, but these days were radically sweet.

It was a Saturday. I sat with my coffee and Bible in hand, having time with God while Jon slept in. Anxiety trickled at first. But then the dam broke, slamming me with the force of many waters.

1-12-13
Oh God, what if you’re giving us this sweet time because something is going to happen to him?

At that point, there was no reason for me to consider that he would die. The question was born solely out of fear.

Lord, your word says ‘perfect love casts out fear.’ You are perfect love. I don’t want to even imagine  facing death, but I know you would give grace. I will love him and cherish him as long as you allow me to, but Jon is yours. Oh Father, I need your help! Please cast this fear from me.

And He did.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy one of Israel, your Savior!…You are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you.” Isaiah 43:1-4

1-19-13
Father, I’m still so overwhelmed. Waiting for answers… I feel helpless. God, we’re both emotionally drained. Why can’t they see what is wrong? Please help us to trust you—to trust that you are sovereignly in control of all things, even congestive heart failure and pulmonary edema. Please provide the right timeline for surgery.

Fear not. 

You are mine.

When you pass through the waters—Trials and suffering will come because the world is still broken. We still live on a fallen Earth. Brokenness and deep waters will be there until Jesus restores all things and makes them new. But for his chosen ones, there is great promise. ‘I will be with you.’ The God Who lovingly and masterfully formed me also chose me, purchased me. This God says he will be with me. The God whose love has no boundaries says that he will walk with me. He will protect. This God says my soul is secure. On the cross, Jesus already absorbed all of God’s wrath toward me.

It seems that a season of suffering is coming. We may be tested as silver is tried, but Lord, I believe you will bring us again to the place of abundance (Psalm 66:12). If we need the fire to more accurately reflect you, then it is good. Your name be glorified.

Jon died a week later. Though my mind had flitted to death, it still came unexpectedly. No one thought he would die.

Tonight I asked God to protect my friend from this path. Our God is big, and he is able to do abundantly above what I can ask or think. He is able to heal.

However, with confidence I could say, “No matter what, God is still good. He is big enough when fear hits with the force of many waters.”

This God was with me. This God carried. Even now, my cup runs over.

And if her biggest fear becomes reality, this God will carry my friend also.