To me, community is raw and vulnerable.

It’s me, minus the facade, the fashionable clothes, and without a high GPA — just me, as I am.

It’s where I can come in, put my feet up, and relax.

It’s fuzzy socks, late night talks in pjs, and my favorite kind of chocolate.

But community isn’t rose-tinted glasses or placing hurts up on a shelf.

It was in a place of community that my heart was broken into many pieces and shards were scattered all over the floor. It was in this place that I got down on my knees and searched for these missing pieces, only to find my knees bloody, my hands cut up.

But these cuts were nothing compared to my bruised heart, broken dreams, shattered love, and fractured trust.

Community hurt me. Community broke me. Community emptied me.

I didn’t know how to trust, to love, or to begin again. How could I rebuild anything when I couldn’t even find the pieces that had been broken off?

It took many years of long nights and hard conversations, but I gave Him the pieces and He handed me the glue stick.

We worked together and He healed this broken heart. But the funny thing is, He used community — the very thing that hurt me – to heal me. Community began to teach me what love was about.

I offered these broken pieces, these shards of promises unkept and dreams unfulfilled, to a community that truly knew what it was to love the Body of Christ. And the strangest thing happened. We all got our glue sticks out and began to make a masterpiece of a mess.

I’m not there yet. The wounds remain. There are scars on this tattered heart and there are days when it is hard to be vulnerable and open with those around me. But God has used community in my life to show me Who He is. He has used community to heal the hurt spaces inside.I stayed in community and He is renewing me and the relationships around me.

He makes all things new.

Through this brokenness I’ve learned that my God, the one who created community, can do immeasurably more than I ever hoped, dreamed, or imagined.

He can rebuild.