Learning To Love Each Other Well – 12 quotes from Christopher L. Heuertz’s book – Unexpected Gifts: Discovering the Way of Community

by Mark Votava

51-6b52lH4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. The poverty of our friendships

“Until we confess the poverty of our friendships, many of our attempts to foster inclusion run the risk of becoming awkward and inappropriate efforts of tokenism. It doesn’t feel good to be the ‘token’ anything in any community. It diminishes everyone’s humanity to be misled by communities that appear to be inclusive but are actually using minority members for cosmetic purposes.”

2. Toward grace or bitterness

“However it happens, all of us betray our communities and friendships, and all of us are betrayed by them. It’s part of the metanarrative of all great human stories. Betrayal is one of the perplexing and peculiar gifts that comes from weaving our lives together with others. And our response to betrayal can be a powerful force, setting our life trajectories toward grace or bitterness.”

3. Explore the unique gifts each person brings

“If we want to be in true community, we have to make the choice to not give in to what’s easy but instead to explore the unique gifts each person brings…”

4. To give more freely

“Gratitude also allows us to give more freely in community.”

5. Deeply unsatisfying times

“In the midst of vocational faithfulness, there will be long periods of what seem to be deeply unsatisfying times marked by difficult or unexciting duties or responsibilities.”

6. When doubt forces its way in

“What happens in our communities when doubt forces its way in? How do we get through these times together in community?”

7. Something greater than ourselves

“…community is not just a collective of people united around a cause. Rather, it’s a group of people bound by a commitment to one another – and community becomes the loom that weaves them together. A loom that takes all our colors and pieces, fabrics and faults, and interweaves us to create something greater than ourselves.”

8. Questions rather than answers

“I’ve been enamored by questions rather than answers, allowing those uncertainties to press me deeper into faith.”

9. Overidentify people by their differences

“Sure, it’s possible, and more likely probable in most cases, that our false centers are simply an identification with the groups to which we belong. It’s usually unintentionally fortified and almost always perpetuated without negative or harmful motivations. But when we don’t recognize the false center we’ve created in ourselves, we perpetuate exclusive environments that overidentify people by their differences in relation to us.”

10. To be exclusive

“Is it ever okay to be exclusive?…”

11. Immature expressions of love

“It’s important to note that in authentic relationships and dynamic communities, most betrayals are simply immature expressions of love.”

12. Learning to love each other well

“Discovering new kinds of friendships – that dismantle our unfair expectations and take the focus off of ourselves – helps ground our other relationships. And learning to love each other well, accepting the best and worst of each other, focusing on our relationships as they are rather than what we think they should be, helps us stay faithful to our friendships, relationships, and communities.”

Have you loved others well in your community?

Christopher L. Heuertz is the founding partner of Gravity, a center for contemplative activism, and coauthor of Friendship at the Margins: Discovering Mutuality in Service and Mission, author of Unexpected Gifts: Discovering the Way of Community, Simple Spirituality: Learning to See God in a Broken World 

My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life (2015) is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!

“Our crowded, overly-consumed, hyper-active, digitally-addicted lifestyle is draining the life out of us. We are desperate to transcend the chaos and find a better way to live. We need a mystical imagination. Get ready to be transported into the depths of meaning as Votava breaks open the contemplative path and shows you how to live your life to the fullest.” Phileena Heuertz, author of Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life and founding partner, Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism

My first book The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together (2014) is available on kindle and paperback also!

“Inside everyone there is a longing for community, to love and be loved. We are made in the image of a communal God. But in our hyper-mobile, individualistic, cluttered world… community is an endangered thing. And community is like working out – it takes work, sweat, discipline…  without that our muscles atrophy. Everybody wants to be fit, but not too many people want to do the work to get there. Mark’s book is sort of a workout manual, helping you rediscover your communal muscles and start building them up slowly. It is an invitation to live deep in a shallow world.”  Shane Claiborne, author and activist