My community this year has loved me where I am at, but refused to leave me there. At Christ in the City, one of the most important ways we build community is through fraternal correction, where we challenge and call each other higher.
As missionaries, we talked a lot about fraternal correction. Thinking fraternal correction resembled the self-condemnation and mental self-deprecation I was used to, I avoided it at all costs. Yet as I grew in my understanding of real friendship, I began to see its value.
I love people. I am wildly happy encountering our friends on the streets. I thrived when college students visited on spring break mission trips every week of March. But encountering the people I live with? Something has held me back.
The devil wants me to believe that I’m alone.
I have no idea how to be seen in my failures. Knowing I make mistakes is hard to live with. It’s terrifying to know my Christ in the City community sees all my weaknesses too. I have tried to hide, putting up walls and masks so they don’t see all the things I don’t like about myself.
Fortunately, my fellow missionaries love me too much not to challenge me to grow.
The first person to fraternally correct me was one of my teammates. As we walked the streets together, we shared stories, processed encounters, and teased each other. As our friendship deepened, we were able to gently call each other out in a spirit of trust and openness. I challenged the false perceptions he seemed to carry about his worth and identity, but also affirmed the good that I saw in him.
Then, he did the same for me. Gently but firmly, he showed me the ways I responded from a place of woundedness and of weakness. He challenged my defence-mechanisms and the way I hid my heart from my community. Because I trusted him, his words weren’t hurtful. My experience of his fraternal correction was an experience of being known.
In the months that followed, we continued to correct and hold each other accountable. Through his friendship and friendships with other missionaries, I began to see myself more objectively. And when the masks and walls I had built to hide my weaknesses began to crumble, I was surprised to discover that I was still loved.
Though I often resisted this love, my eyes were opened to the importance of being real with those around me.
I don’t have the courage to be honest about myself on my own. That courage has only come through a deeper relationship with God. Before I can be open with others, I know I have to be honest with Him as my Father. Placing myself before God and allowing Him to love me in my weakness has given me the courage to allow others to encounter that weakness too.
Fraternal correction still makes me uncomfortable. It is hard to be correct, but I am learning how to do it from a place of humility and real love. Similarly, I am learning not to shut down when others correct me, but to receive it with trust and gratitude.
I came to Christ in the City desiring authentic friendship, but afraid of the growth it would take in my heart to find it. The love I have been shown by my community has changed that. These friendships have finally made me believe that I am not alone.
Amy is a yearlong missionary from Derwent, Alberta, Canada. She enjoys music, old films, and walking in the rain.