Community…

I turned 40 this year. This milestone has provided a couple of unexpected opportunities for me; reflection of the days before and excitement for the life ahead of me.iStock_community

I grew up on a dairy farm in rural Minnesota with two wonderful and hard working parents. I have five brothers and one sister; the perfect number of accomplices to have great shenanigans to reminisce about still today.

In my twenties, I went off to college, studied abroad, moved to Wyoming, met my husband and his two children, and established my career. In my thirties, I married George, lost my Dad to cancer, welcomed two baby girls into our family, and worked conscientiously to advance my professional career. This year, I have become a grandma and will run my second ½ marathon next month; life is good.

Throughout what I consider to be a blessed life, I have always been centered in my faith. Turning 40 has provided me an opportunity to consider why. Surprisingly, the answer was simple—community.

Community is a compound word; “com” means with and “unity” means what the word says…unity.

The Bible references “community” in a number of passages. One that is familiar to most is Matthew 18:20. “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them.” This section of Scripture reminds me that I am a sinning sister and that I am loved and forgiven by Jesus and my ‘on earth’ faith community. Pastor Rhor shared his insights around heaven last week in his Trinity blog. Like him, I will welcome heaven when my day comes. Today, I am thankful for forty years of a community of believers that has welcomed me, even when I questioned my faith.

I have seen many people turn away from their faith because of Church government or politics and have been asked how I can continue to believe. Once more, the answer is simple—community. From my family of nine, to the communities I was a part of in my twenties, thirties, and now forties, I have dwelled in unity knowing that Jesus was in our presence. We have loved, bared one another’s burdens, and comforted each other all in the promises of God. I am stronger, and together we are stronger, as a body of believers in Christ.

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Jennifer Zenor is the Executive Director for the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. This organization is a leading advocate against sexual and domestic violence in Wyoming. Jennifer believes that engaging in compassionate efforts to prevent violence before it happens and also providing a collective response to victims will build compassionate and engaged communities committed to see violence end.

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