The Fragrance of Love: Community At Its Best

by Cathy Baker

I LOVE my local writer’s group, CrossNPens (led by Cynthia Owens), as well as my online group, The Light Brigade (led by Lori Roeleveld.)

I didn’t realize how blessed I was to be part of such amazing groups until my first writer’s conference at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference. When discussing our critique groups, I was the envied one! And rightfully so.

Being critiqued isn’t easy when it’s your heart spilled out in ink. It has an especially vulnerable feel to it, which is why trust within a group is essential. If you have confidence in a person’s intentions—that they desire the best for you—the words can be received, even the “critical” ones. Don’t you find this to be true in our daily lives as well?

Some of our CrossNPens group from February meeting.

Doing life with other imperfect people can result in bruised feelings and messy hands, but it comes down to the heart. 
It always does. 

Both writing groups have introduced me to some of the godliest and most creative people I know. They’ve also helped to sharpen my skills, spur me on, and kick me in the pants when necessary. I have the footprints to prove it! 

You may not consider yourself a writer but truth is, we all need a group like this—whether it’s a life group in our church, a group of young moms who can relate to runny noses and weary souls, or someone to meet with on a regular basis to discuss the deeper issues of life. Even a bona fide introvert, such as myself, recognizes we were created for community. Some of us just have to work at it a little harder. 

Your turn! Would you like to give a shout-out to your group of any kind? Who knows, it might just spark an idea for someone else. 

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but
encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing
near. Hebrews 10:24, 25

How An Introvert Does Life

As described by psychologist Carl Jung, introversion refers to energy flow and the tendency of some people to draw energy from the inner world — their focus is inward, on ideas and reflection, and they typically seek solitude to recharge their batteries. Many enjoy people and welcome social encounters and aren’t shy at all, but too much socializing would be draining for them.

My recent admission to being an introvert was met with disbelief and a few hints of laughter as our writer’s group cackled till midnight—yet it’s oh so true. I love people and enjoy “doing life” with women in different settings throughout the week, but without times of solitude, my battery is quickly zapped.

During our ten month search for a church home, we remained open to the Spirit’s leading in regard to a Sunday School format vs. life/small groups. For various reasons, the more structured-type teaching has always appealed to me a little more. We’ve “done life” with groups in the past and counted each a blessing, but I struggled nonetheless. 

Brian and I knew life groups were an integral part of Summit Church before visiting but it wasn’t until several weeks later, when we began sensing a true attachment to the church, that the reality of life groups hit home.

This won’t be comfortable.

Four words that sent my brain into a frenzy, like rowdy toddlers on a playground, until Truth quieted them with five words of His own.

Who says it should be?

In that glorious moment of conviction I realized how complacent I’d become. Since when did anything worth pursuing feel comfortable? Confession came quick (Hebrews 10:I9) and freedom forged in forgiveness swiftly followed.

This conviction, coupled with Sunday’s powerful message by our Campus Pastor, Brooke Taylor, left me feeling excited about the life group we were to attend that evening. One truth in particular from the message spoke life into this introvert’s soul: 

Community doesn’t just happen — it requires intentionality.

Here’s why I share my testimony: I know I’m not alone. There are others out there who feel there’s no greater place to be than a quiet nook, furnished with a good book and a hot cup of tea. I get it—but this doesn’t mean we’re not cut out for life groups. It simply means we require an extra dose of intentionality, with a booster shot of courage.

Turns out, our first visit to a Summit life group was a tremendous blessing (thank you Kevin and Carolyn!) We were warmly welcomed and felt right at home. As we drove away, I felt so energized by the group I almost mistook myself for an extrovert!
What about you? Have you ever allowed your comfort zone to impede God’s best for you? 
Be encouraged. Your glorious moment may be right around the corner. 
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.  Hebrews 19:24,25

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