The Crowd and the Community

It’s been quiet around here lately. My mind full but my heart empty.

I write close and soul deep and sometimes my bone marrow dries, the stuff where words settle in and gush onto the page with each pump of my heart.

So I went to Jumping Tandem with weariness in my bones. With the ache of the overtired. A bit frustrated at the grace I’m trying to walk around in and sometimes find myself tripping over.

I have stories under the surface, forming and coming together, but I’ve held them back, feeling the eggshells crackling underfoot as I ask myself what my voice will speak into this world that is so often too loud and startlingly empty of harmony. A world where I constantly fight doubt and try to believe I belong.

And then we’re gathered. A bunch of dreamers, storytellers, poets, and masters of prose, each with words to share, organically sprawled on chairs and ottomans, lounging on the floor when the questions are tossed out.

What is the difference? What is the message we’re saying and how do we say it better?

Because there are posts that hit hard and low, their veracity doubling you over, the stuff that shimmies up your spine and bursts out your skin in tingling goosebumps. The stuff soaked in glory, your soul resonates a holy amen to.

And then there is noise. The noise of those clambering to be edgy, to be relevant, to catch the ears of the masses to turn the browsers of the crowd into a viral mess infecting loud  and hard over the tops of people crushing down instead of building up.

The endless twitter streams with ranty sarcasm and vicious wit, retorts cutting at each other, blog posts lobbed back and forth like a game of red rover gone awry. And then someone busts out the theology and it is a party for the whole world as we clumsily dissect the word of God instead of allowing it to incise our own hearts in the hands of the master surgeon.

And how do we know where our words will land? How do we do this thing right?

Because I want a peacemaker’s heart. Not one that backs down or runs away but one that knows the difference between a crowd and a community.

Because the path of the coward melts into the crowd as a spectator risking nothing or heckles with the herd, safe to charge with the brute force of bodies amassed and sheer numbers on their side, leaving trampled souls in the wake of their words.

The crowd absolves self-reproach because one voice doesn’t stand its ground alone. It rallies and roars and rages against peace, littering the world with the trampled stories of its people.

But the brave, the ones who know community, the ones who fight for their words to be light even when the stories get dark, who fight to find the beauty and face of God in the midst of their disagreements, who are willing to bend low and lift up rather than climbing past and reaching farther for their voice to be heard over others are being raised up.

Since I started blogging a little over a year ago, I’ve found my story being woven into the fabric of these people. My people. I hear your voices in comments and blog posts, prayers and poems speaking my language. And I love you.

PicMonkey Collage

Just a few of my people.The brave and beautiful.

Because the brave see meekness and humility not as a liability of the weak but as the strongest defense against our own flesh. And it’s with these brave I want to gather round. I want to stake my claim in the heart of this community and cheer them on.

Powerful things happen when world changers begin to believe the dreams birthed on bended knees knowing only God can lift them up, only God can raise their voice.

I am placing my dreams in the midst of this circle. I am vowing to fight for my words to be God’s alone and not born on flesh and what’s in fashion. Not fighting for a platform or a pedestal but a pipeline to praise. An altar to lay out my worship.

I have visions of words being spoken into the darkest of places. I have visions of broken people telling their stories, their tears pooling like a baptism into new life. I have visions of hearts alive and consecrated wholly to God.

baptism broken people

Only God has the copyright on beauty and redemption and it’s all His story from beginning to end. And if purposed to write a chapter along the way, Lord, let those words be formed with pliable hearts and open ears.

Let us bend our imaginations and pens slant, and scribble grace in the margins. Let’s learn to listen to the wails and whispers of the world with God’s wisdom. Let the truth we speak be drenched with compassion and mercy, humility and understanding.

Let our God sized dreams rattle the heavens with the praise of His people.

I didn’t know when I was going to Jumping Tandem, these dry bones would be kindling for soul-fire, setting my dreams ablaze.

Comments

  1. says

    Alia

    Your words are preaching words with gut force punch. I so appreciate them as I kept saying, “Amen!” Yes yes yes about a ping pong match lobbying with new posts, 140 character remarks, etc. I want you to know that although I don’t spend much time reading blogs, and have probably only left you one or two comments, I am a quiet soul who happens to be an extrovert. Meaning when I see your feeds, IG pics, twitter, I pray for you. I hope we get to meet some day.

    Kamille

    • says

      Thanks Kamille. Ha! We’re opposites. I’m a loud soul who happens to be an introvert. Funny how that works, but I am so blessed by your prayers and the connection I’ve felt when I’ve read your blog and see the love that goes into your open table and heart. I hope we do too. I can already tell you’re my people.

  2. says

    “Let the truth we speak be drenched with compassion and mercy, humility and understanding…” Yes, Yes, one thousand times YES! May we bow low, lay our words on the altar, and watch Him do beautiful things with our offerings…God-sized things that we would have never dreamed could be. I just love you Alia Joy! xoxo

  3. says

    That organic conversation around the fire was definitely a highlight of the weekend. I loved meeting you Alia, and your strong, brave voice. You wrote my heart here and beautifully.

    • says

      Thank you, Shelly. I agree, the highlight for me as well. I love the way God weaves lives together and how paths cross and intertwine. I am blown away by His goodness and thankful for you. Your devotion was heartsong.

  4. says

    Alia,
    THIS.IS.BEAUTIFUL!! Thank you for your words–your writing is so soul deep and glorious! I agree with Shelly – that organic convo around the fire was incredible. Meeting you, my new friend whose ‘writer’ words help me breathe and make me stronger was such an incredible gift. That necklace was MADE for you, my friend!

    • says

      Thank you friend, for you generosity with words and with your gift to me. I’ll wear it proud and remember that God knows what He’s doing even when we don’t, right down to the ordering of business cards. Even in the smallest things, he’s speaking a message of love and hope to us.

  5. says

    I am covered in gooseflesh after reading this… and humbled beyond measure. I love how your words point me in the direction of God and how He uses You and others to lean in and listening to the Holy Spirit as God begins to strip me down and lay me bare… Knees bent, palms open, ready to receive grace and all that God has for me.

    And can I just say… what an answer to prayer your time at Jumping Tandems was as I prayed that God would find you there in that space and breathe His holy fire into your soul… So grateful to Him for you… just so grateful!

  6. says

    What a way to capture a beautiful weekend. It was a pleasure meeting you, Alia. Your voice is precious in this world and I pray you will continue to remain strong in letting your light shine.

    • says

      You too, Kendra. I was watching the video Dianne put together and I was thinking about how everyone’s gifts overlap and fill in when we’re all gathered together. Thank you for your encouragement along the way.

    • says

      So great to meet you too! I love the wit and insight you brought to the conversation and your passion for getting out there in uncharted territories with your writing. I’m looking forward to getting to know you more and to laugh a lot. And if I’m really moved I’ll leave one of your style comments on your blog, like “awesome!” ;) Don’t worry, you don’t have to comment back.

  7. says

    oh wow.
    a world “startlingly empty of harmony”. i so get that.
    but you wrapped it in new words and the whole post challenges me to what i think of making beautiful music. of singing in unity without uniformity.
    too much meat here for a one-time reading. thank you, dear friend. you are a light.

    • says

      Yes, unity without uniformity. I love that. How the diversity we have is so beautiful and unique to the gospel but our unity shows the truth of what we proclaim. And we have to have both. What can I say, meeting you was amazing and I’ll never read another word of yours without thinking of your gorgeous blue eyes and open heart. Honored to call you friend.

    • says

      Thank you so much, Jennifer. I haven’t even processed all the stuff God is doing since hearing you guys speak His words to us, but I know this is a game changer. Thank you for dreaming with us all and for shining a little light on the path as we walk together. You are a delight.

  8. says

    Alia,
    This: “Because the brave see meekness and humility not as a liability of the weak but as the strongest defense against our own flesh.”

    Yes — the strongest defense against our flesh. Couldn’t help but remember that “Blessed are the peacemakers. For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

    So glad to have discovered you at Jumping Tandem, and so glad to be reading your words today.

    • says

      Yes, I think of that often. I think we get peacemaker wrong so often in our culture and equate it with being passive and noncommital but God’s version is anything but that. Being a peacemaker is a fierce stance in a culture that values being right over being repentant.
      I’m so glad to have met you as well and I knew I like you as soon as you said you were “unoffendable.” I thought ,that’s my kind of people. ;)

  9. says

    Dear Alia-Joy
    That sweet humbleness and humility can only come from a place of brokenness, I think!! Man in his prime has a hard time seeing himself for the dust he actually is and usually don’t see the need to be a spiritual being in our God as well! Oh, how I wish I could have been there with you all!
    Blessings from Jennifer’s.
    Mia

    • says

      That would have been amazing! It was a lovely time for sure but even so, I swear I’ve had some of those same heart to heart moments online. I am astounded at how masterfully God weaves lives together both online and off and how He orchestrates words and story to fall into the lives that need to hear it most. I’m just in awe, really. Glad to have you here, if not there.

  10. says

    “Not fighting for a platform or a pedestal but a pipeline to praise. An altar to lay out my worship.”
    Alia, I have such love and respect for you and am grateful for the way you speak it — yes, humble and brave. Glad to call you my sister.

    • says

      The feelings are mutual, Ashley. I swear, I feel like I’ve known you forever. Like we go way way back and it’s the oddest thing but I think it’s just because your heart is so familiar and comforting to me. Love you so much, and I was so glad to spend more time with you this past weekend. Here’s to many more adventures to come…

  11. says

    SO many good words here, Alia. I’ll be reading again more slowly, but dinner’s beeping. The BIGGEST thought I have as I’ve perused your blog is this, YOU ask GOOD questions. Thank you.

    • Alia Joy says

      Thank you Kim. That is a great compliment. I love a good question too and there were a lot of them this weekend. A lot of collaboration and inspiration. And I LOVED seeing your video clips, helmets on, harnesses attached climbing up brave!

  12. says

    Oh, my! There is so much to say here and I am truly overwhelmed! God is moving in you so powerfully, and it’s remarkable to see!

    Rich blessings as He continues to lead you.

    • Alia Joy says

      Thank you Amy. I feel like there’s been so much going on and after a few quiet weeks on the blog and in my heart, God showed up and I can barely keep up with all the goodness. So blessed right now and I’m basking in the glow.

  13. says

    Okay, this is a mighty lot to quote, but Alia, dear girl, when I read this, I said “Whoa’ and I cheered for you on the inside. That you said all of it, so bravely, with such a force of truth, with such grace. Because yes, grace tells the truth–God’s truth. And it brings peace and Love Himself:

    “And then there is noise. The noise of those clambering to be edgy, to be relevant, to catch the ears of the masses to turn the browsers of the crowd into a viral mess infecting loud and hard over the tops of people crushing down instead of building up.
    The endless twitter streams with ranty sarcasm and vicious wit, retorts cutting at each other, blog posts lobbed back and forth like a game of red rover gone awry. And then someone busts out the theology and it is a party for the whole world as we clumsily dissect the word of God instead of allowing it to incise our own hearts in the hands of the master surgeon.”

    Yes, yes, yes, to the entire post. My heart stands with you, friend, and you definitely have a sister to walk with. Don’t ever doubt it. Thank you for your kind words at my place today. I just knew when I saw you, my heart whispered, “She’s special”…….

    • Alia Joy says

      Thank you Nacole. I am glad you are “gulping” and that you’re coming into the realization that you have a body of people, just for you, appointed by God. I love watching how He weaves and winds hearts together. I’m in awe.

  14. says

    Graceful…anointed words Alia! Your words pricked places in me I thought no one else knew about…the confused ramblings and verbal parrying between my head and heart that scream for the solution of silence..peace. I struggle with the vision He’s given me. Platforms, and newsletters, ebooks and mailchimp…so much to think about. But… my voice..belongs to Him. I want to stay out of the way, found hidden behind His words. Not easily done when I get disappointed because my stats were down. I do want to grow. Yes. But only with Him, because without Him … its only more noise and I know well the power and strength of even the silent warrior. Thanks for this great reminder and lesson for a newbie blogger. Be blessed.

    • Alia Joy says

      Ugggh, I know. It is such a struggle at time to juggle the things we feel called to with the things that seem like striving. How to rest, how to walk in the right way and do it all better. I know, it’s really hard. I personally had to stop looking at my stats because they were messing me up and distracting me. Some people can do it, I’m not really one of them. It just messes with my head and gets me all focused on myself. Not where I want my writing to be coming from. And yes, I get the wanting to grow. I do too. I think the struggle is so hard because if it weren’t we could do it all on our own. The struggle to do it right for His glory makes us have to constantly humble ourselves, constantly seek His wisdom and grace and provision in it all. I pray you grow to know the path He’s called you to and to walk in it without doubts.

  15. says

    Alia Joy! When I went to sit down that last day of retreat, I was offered the seat at the end of the row. But I chose to sit in the middle so I would be surrounded by the warmth of others. And you were the “other” God chose to sit on my left. I glanced at you several times, and I wanted to shout out to you “Do you know what your name means? It means “ascender or the one who rises from the ashes” … because I have a sweet child in my life far, far away whom I may never see again, but I know God named her and will redeem the ashes for beauty, because that is who she is, my Aaliyah. And that is who you are, beautiful! There! I said it!
    Hugs,
    Kelly

    • Alia Joy says

      Thank You Kelly. I have finally come to love my name Alia Joy. When I was younger I hated it. I could never find the personalized pencils or license plates and that’s the age when all you want is to fit in and not stand out but now I’m pretty in love with the promises in it. Thank you! Wish we’d have gotten to chat a bit.

  16. Julie Watts says

    All I can say is WOW! You are truly gifted with your words… able to put the words down in the most powerfully visual and feeling way. I can reach out and touch it … full of emotionally charged words that move me to tears… not that it’s hard to do that. Love you Alia!

    • says

      Thank you so much, Diana. And thank you for all the richness you brought to this weekend with your liturgical service and communion. It was a wonderful time of worship.

  17. says

    Your words so resonate in my spirit. I long to be His voice, that He would use my broken places to call others out of darkness. Oh how I wish I could have sat next to you in the same room. You are a mighty woman of God, a life giver, a hope breather. “Let us bend our imaginations and pens slant, and scribble grace in the margins. Let’s learn to listen to the wails and whispers of the world with God’s wisdom. Let the truth we speak be drenched with compassion and mercy, humility and understanding.
    Let our God sized dreams rattle the heavens with the praise of His people.” Thank you!

  18. Nasreen Fynewever says

    3 weeks since #jtreat and my heart is now ready to read everyone’s link ups. Rattle on, you are a pipeline of praise and amazingly kindred words to my hopes for myself. Thanks for your articulation and art.

  19. says

    Oh, these words resonate to the blogger who hasn’t posted in six months, to the one who has felt but had not the energy to wrestle the emotions and perceptions into words… “I write close and soul deep and sometimes my bone marrow dries, the stuff where words settle in and gush onto the page with each pump of my heart.”

    Yes. That’s it, just yes–and thank you–to and for all of this.

    Deb Weaver
    thewordweaver.com

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