If we really want to develop genuine community, online and in real life, we need to be willing to get messy with people.
I'm not suggesting we air out our dirty laundry with everyone we meet, or use our blogs to pull all the skeletons out of our closet and put them on display. That's not smart. But I am saying that with the people God has called us to be in community with, it's okay to be vulnerable. It's better than okay - it's good! It is a really good thing to have people in our lives that know us intimately, the good, the bad and the messy.
But how do we make these connections? How to we forge deep friendships that go beyond surface level? Where is it safe to show our mess?
Why not start with your home?
Next time you have friends over, why not leave your house a mess? If your home is anything like mine, there are always toys under then couch, crumbs on the floor, and dust on the book shelves. In my imagination everything is super organized and in it's place, but that is NOT my reality. When we frantically clean everything up before a play date, who are we cleaning for? Are we really cleaning for our friends, or are we cleaning for ourselves? So that we'll be percieved in a certain way? So that people will think we have it all together?
I have this bad habit of caring WAY too much what other people think of me. But the truth is, when other women see me all put together, with perfect hair and make up and a spotless house (this rarely happens, but you know what I mean) all it does is make them feel LESS comfortable to share their mess with me. I'm not saying dump yogurt on the high chair and cracker crumbs all over the floor if your house is usually tidy. I'm just saying BE REAL. Be yourself. Allow your mess to be seen.
When you do, I garauntee it will open the door for genuine connections in your life. True community is forged in the mess. It happens when we do life together and the truth is, life isn't tidy. It isn't always pretty. And the more we allow ourselves to show this side to other women God puts in our life, the deeper our connections will become.
So next time you have the option to show a bit of your mess, or hide it away in the nearest closet, try opening yourself up and letting others see that you don't have it all together. And watch how your relationships change and genuine community grows.