Live in Community: “Pressing Through Awkward to Get to Authentic”

By Indera Cardenas

             “And let us consider how we spur one another on toward love and good deeds, Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Hebrews 10:24-25

I am very familiar with pressing through all the awkward to get to authentic. It’s been a challenge for me to get to where being transparent is a comfortable thing for me. However, it is still awkward! I remember Beautiful Ybor in its earlier days. Our group would meet, do the Bible study, have our table discussions and move on. I remember constantly comparing myself to others who seemed to have a greater knowledge of the Bible, and I felt very awkward – especially leading a group. I was always disqualifying myself and felt hesitant to be truly authentic with my community. After building relationships with the ladies at my table, I slowly became more comfortable opening up, sharing and exposing my vulnerabilities – even as a leader. And each time I did, I was met with their acceptance and encouragement. Choosing to focus on the truth of God’s Word and what He says about me has enabled me to grow into who I am and has impacted how I lead today. It was because I chose to commit and be persistent in community, that I was able to move from feeling awkward to creating real and lasting authentic connections with those in my own group and with those whom I lead.

Today it is my focus to create a safe environment for the ladies in our Beautiful community to feel loved, cared for and able to be authentic. I want every woman who comes through our doors to know their story matters and that they are seen for who they are, not for what they did or what was done to them. Pressing through to authentic does not come quickly or naturally to me, but Jesus commanded us in Matthew 28:16-20 to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” With this promise, I was able to find courage, and I quickly realized I had to step out of my comfort zone and press through all the awkwardness in order to play a part in creating an environment that placed a high value on authenticity.

I had to step out in faith knowing that this was Jesus’ design for our lives. We were not meant to do life alone. Unseen and unknown. Authentic community is formed when we are surrounded by people committed to healing and growth. When we allow others to see all of us, in all our mess, and when we are able to invite others to speak into our lives and tell us the hard thing we may need to hear, authenticity then becomes a choice. But I beg to say, authenticity is a requirement for those serving in ministry. In order to be able to effectively walk alongside those entrusted to our care, consistently pointing them back to Jesus and His bigger plan for their lives, we must be a people who choose to press through all the awkward because He promises to be with us and to lead us – as we lead others – from here to there.

 

Discussion:

1. Can you recall an awkward situation or conversation at your table? How did you lead through this? Would you do anything differently next time?

2. What are some practical ways we can create safe spaces that encourage authenticity where women feel they can come as they are? When you feel like your table is staying pretty surface, how can you lead your group into deeper “next level” conversations?

3. What are some practical ways we can encourage and continue authentic connections throughout the week, outside of our once a week regularly scheduled meeting?

Weekly Challenge:

Apply something new this week from the shared responses to Questions 2 and 3 (above)