She had a way of brightening any room with her smile, filling it soon after with her laugh. It was one of those contagious sorts that made you smile in spite of yourself. Soon you were laughing along with her without any idea why. A light radiated from the depths of her soul beckoning all who approached with a warm welcoming glow. Strangers left friends after their first introduction; it never ceased to amaze me.
I watched with rapt attention, as she fearlessly embraced people. Her life held its share of both sorrow and happiness, yet she pursued joy. She dared to share it with others, simply because she could. Inspirational is not grand enough to describe her, my grandmother, yet it is enough to give you a glimpse of her character.
I have thought about her way with people lately, the way she seemed to bring unity. These memories we have left teach us lessons we failed to learn the first time. Her example was to live life intentionally, love from a heart that knew her own limitations, and accept others with all their faults and sharp edges.
The heart that shelters hope believes in the possibility of goodness in others.
Purposely living a life sheltering hope and joy for others creates an atmosphere of blessing that follows you wherever you go. She built relationship easily because she took time to connect deep, heart-deep, with everyone she met. Even if they had only a moment with her, they left smiling; they left feeling better about themselves.
Real heart connecting involves actively making the opportunity to pour goodness into the hearts of others. As we lavish kindness, based on grace, we see how easy it can be to love the unlovely even if there is a risk. We build community without effort.
Community is risky, yet the discovery that we belong is worth the step of faith.
Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not yet seen. It describes so perfectly the moment of intentionally transparent fellowship. Though it is easier to take tiny steps of caution, rather than blind leaps of faith, when we take a chance on others, gospel living compels us expect, hope for, and embrace grace.
Expectant hope cannot be deferred easily; it grows like a tree that is strong and wide. In the face of fear, this faith that is tied to hope mirrors the heart of the Father who longed for community in the finality of Creation. We see His final touch of glory crowned in the very beginning, and with it a pattern for the heart of fellowship.
When we choose to love God first, a love for others will soon follow. Authentic community is built when we first have hearts that are built up with expectant hope.
When minds, hearts, and passions unite, compassion is buoyed by creativity which connects hearts. We discover that this building of relationships feels a little like coming home. I saw this kind of grace in my grandmother’s living. She treated others as she wanted to be treated, she encouraged them with this heart of hope she nurtured in prayer and in fellowship with the Father and she blessed them with words of kindness and affirmation. She lifted them up with her laughter. It reminds me of Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 that says, “Two are better than one… for they lift one another up when they fall.”
Will you join me on the journey to discover authentic community today?
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