I snuggled under the comforter, watching a movie on my laptop. Just as the hero was about to reveal his undying love for the heroine, I heard the scratchy notes of a violin from the next room. As the practice session commenced, I sighed, paused the movie, and leaned against my bedroom wall. A glance at the clock told me it was 7:30 p.m. — study hours. I set aside my laptop and ventured out to get a mug of hot chocolate.
Bad timing. Several seniors were in the dining room, hovering around the only microwave to watch a bag of popcorn inflate. The girls were giggling about something, poking each other in the ribs, and letting out screeching peals of laughter.
Not in the mood to wait and listen, I turned back to my room. On the way, I ran into another girl.
“Hey,” she said. “Sorry to bother you on your day off, but could I borrow your hair gel?”
I took a deep breath. “Sure.”
Yes, it was my day off, but life in community never stops. The sharing of space never stops. The noise never stops.
For two years, I worked at a boarding school for missionary kids. I was a resident assistant in the dorm. The building is an old German guesthouse, and 30 other people lived there too: dorm parents, two other RAs, and 26 teenage girls.
Before I worked there, I defined “community” as a network of friends to rely on for help and spiritual accountability. I envisioned a church full of loving people who helped each other out as much as possible and saw each other more than just once a week. Maybe twice a week.
I didn’t think of people living together 24/7. I didn’t imagine that the various parts of the Body of Christ have so many blemishes, rough spots, and ugly patches. My vision of community was a Christian utopia where everyone got along and carried each other’s burdens without a complaint. Well, maybe one complaint per week.
When you live and work with people, you see every side of their personalities. They see every side of yours. Unknown faults are exposed. Within a month of beginning my job as a resident assistant, my ideas about community were shattered.
More clearly than before, I saw the real me: an impatient, easily frustrated, intensely self-centered creature. I’m desperately in need of Christ’s power to be anything but useless. Living in community brought my shortcomings before my eyes daily.
It was shocking, and depressed me at first. But I began to see the benefits. I realized that blows to my pride were opportunities to learn. Community life kept me humble, moldable. And I started to like it.
During my growing-up years, life was somewhat isolated. Individualism is so highly prized in our western culture that I thought it could do no harm and was more comfortable spending time alone. What I didn’t realize is that alone I was like a single piece of thread. Pieces of thread do not function well individually. They are tiny, thin strands that fray easily and break under minimal pressure. When many threads are woven together, their strength increases. Fabric can stretch without breaking. It can withstand far more pressure before ripping than a single thread can. God designed us to function in community, as parts of a whole — as individual threads embedded in the fabric of His Body.
A few years before I moved to Germany, God began to weave me into a few communities at school and church back in the States. I started warming up to the idea, but when I moved into the dorm, He revolutionized my thought. Through living in community, He gave me a passion for discipleship and a greater understanding of the Body of Christ.
When I moved back to the States in June 2008, I didn’t want to return to “normal” North American life. Before the move and during my transition to life here, Christian community was high on my prayer list. God answered with a small group at church: people who make an effort to spend time together on a regular basis. Some of us have joined a local refugee ministry and are tutoring a Burmese family in conversational English a couple of times per week. We’re scoring double: doing ministry together, which is a fulfilling experience, and deepening our fellowship as a community in the process.
The disillusionment, challenges, difficulties, and daily opportunities to die to self are overwhelming — but so are the benefits of community. Members of the Body might bicker with and annoy each other, but they also give and receive love, discipleship, and camaraderie. We are a thousand different colors and textures, but woven together we create a tapestry of unsurpassed beauty: a fabric of God’s design.
Welcome to Ungrind!
Do you want to be inspired, motivated, and equipped to live the everyday story of your life well?
If so, you’re in the right place. Whether you need encouragement in your relationships or in your faith, I hope you’ll find the transparent voices of mentors and friends here at Ungrind.
So, grab a cup of coffee and keep reading. We're so glad you're here!
Ashleigh Slater, Founder & Managing Editor
Get Our Free Ebook!
What Not to Say to Someone Grieving a Miscarriage
Here are a few things not to say to someone grieving a miscarriage.
To Those Who Want To Be Truly Happy: Stop Chasing Happiness
Chasing happiness isn't all it's cracked up to be. Here are a few reasons why.
How the Psalms Speak to Our Emotions
The Psalms is a book that's rich with the reality of what life's like in this fallen world. Here are...
3 Ways to Navigate Personality Differences
Sometimes personality differences can wear on us. Here are three ways we can navigate them in a loving manner.
Surprised By ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’
If you haven't seen this film, God may speak to your heart through it in ways you weren't expecting.
The Wedding Ring
Are you struggling in your marriage? Here's how a wedding ring helped one wife fight for her marriage.
5 Ways to Live an Out-of-Control Life
Here are 5 ways to let go of control and trust your present and your future to God.
What Women Are Saying
-- Darlene Schacht, author of Messy Beautiful Love: Hope and Redemption for Real-Life Marriages and co-author of Reshaping it All: Motivation for Spiritual and Physical Fitness
"Real life is not always pleasant. Every marriage experiences disappointments, misunderstandings, sickness and financial crisis. Ashleigh doesn’t camouflage the pain in her own marriage, and offers practical ideas on how to walk through the difficulties and find intimacy on the journey. If you are anything like me, I predict that as you read, you too will find yourself laughing, wiping tears, and saying 'Oh, yes.'"
-- Gary Chapman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages
We are a member of the Amazon affiliate program and regularly use affiliate links. If you purchase an item from an Amazon link we provide, we will receive a small referral commission. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. We only share books, music, and products that our writers personally have used and highly recommend.
Faith4 years ago
When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds
Motherhood4 years ago
Surviving a Strong-Willed Child
Faith5 years ago
7 Ways to Create A Family Altar
Friendship6 years ago
Beyond the Registry: The Ultimate Gift Guide for Expectant Parents
Relationships9 months ago
5 Ways to Teach Your Child to Hear God
Marriage6 years ago
4 Reasons I’m Not Facebook Friends With My Husband
Everyday Faith5 years ago
6 Simple Ways to Give Thanks in the Thick of It
Articles6 years ago
10 Ways Life is Like a Box of Chocolates
Articles7 years ago
How to Lift Up the One You Love
Articles6 years ago
Relationships1 year ago
Facing Our Motherhood Fears
Digging Into Scripture6 months ago
How the Psalms Speak to Our Emotions