Guest post: Deidra Riggs


Today’s guest is Deidra Riggs of Jumping Tandem. She’s also managing editor at The High Calling. Her word for 2012 is “disco.” Enjoy!

What Makes Community Work

When I sat on the wood floor in front of the fireplace and gazed around the circle of women gathered there, I knew I was surrounded by greatness. I knew these women carried stories that would change the world. I don’t know why I had worried there would be gaps in our conversation.

I asked one open-ended question and these women of words and of The Word and not so sure about The Word or even their own words, breathed hope and healing into all the empty spaces in between us. I stretched my legs out long in front of me, leaned back on my hands, and took it all in. Just one question was all it took.

I sat there next to Michelle at our (in)RL gathering and watched these women – most of whom were meeting for the very first time ever – unwrap grace and truth for one another. It was beautiful. It’s amazing what community looks like when trust lays out a carpet beneath a group of strong and timid and confident and unsure women who have never met before.

A few nights later, my husband and I sat in the home of our friends Scott and Helen. They’d invited us to dinner to meet another couple, following a nudge from above. Our conversation skimmed the surface for a while and then Rick, the man we’d just met, turned to my husband Harry and asked a loaded question, and the tension in the room was testy. We barely knew this guy.

Scott leaned back in his recliner, and Helen leaned forward on the kitchen counter. I walked over to the kitchen sink to fill a glass with water and the three dogs milled about on the  floor. Rick and Harry pressed on through difficult words, repeatedly stopping to go back to clarify and find a place of understanding. Always climbing and pushing upward to find higher ground, because we all knew the view would be spectacular when they finally reached the summit.

Their hard work paid off, and in the end we hugged and laughed and sat around with our jaws hanging open because of the beauty we’d discovered in the pressing through and leaning in and climbing ever higher.

“We need more of that,” I said to them from my perch on the kitchen bar stool. We need more hoping the best of one another so that we can get through the tough stuff without thinking the other person’s out to get us.

“Yeah,” Rick said. His wife, Wendy said, “But it was scary for a minute there,” and we all laughed.

Then Rick leaned forward and said, “But I trusted Scott and Helen. I knew I could trust them, and that they believed we should meet, and that gave me reason to keep at it.”

“Right,” Harry said. “I knew that Scott and Helen wouldn’t set me up like that. I knew they had our best interest at heart.”

Trust. It is a gift. Dig to the bottom of any healthy, thriving, robust community, and the tip of your shovel will always find a carpet of trust that was laid out from the very first day.

How have you experienced the power of trust in community? What’s been your experience with community when trust is not present? What does it take to build trust?