When I worked for a log home construction company, during my high school and college years, I used to love the kind of ceilings we would put into the homes. Instead of drywall, we’d use tongue-and-groove boards. Each board had a “tongue” that protruded out from the edge. On the opposite side of the tongue, each board had a “groove,” which was an indentation. The tongue from one board would fit into the groove of another, causing the boards to link and lock together. Here’s a picture:
It’s a very strong system and it looks great when it’s finished. I’ve literally laid thousands of these boards in my life. Maybe it’s my quirkiness, but I love fitting all of the pieces together when putting together a ceiling or floor. It’s like a giant puzzle—on which you can use an air gun!
Have you ever been a part of a group that was connected below the surface? There are rare and precious moments when you’re with others when suddenly the fellowship deepens. Up until that point, it was all surface stuff. But then suddenly one of the group members says that her parents are getting a divorce and the surface connection is replaced by a deeper affection. Or one of the guys shares that he was just laid off from work, and again, the group comes closer together. Or one of the women shares that her doctor discovered a lump in her breast. It could also be when someone shares his or her struggle with a life addiction, or when one finally gathers the courage to say that he is lonely.
There are these beautiful moments within a group when one of its members reveals a wound. The atmosphere electrifies and you unconsciously pace your breath. As the wound is revealed—whatever kind of wound it is—the group takes a journey together below the surface.
Each person has some kind of “groove” in their life, some wound or hole in their soul. These wounds are at the edges of our life, running straight through us, from one end to the other. And if a group of people is to move beyond superficial chatter, it must be willing to expose its wounds. While this can’t be forced, it must happen for a group to become truly strong.
When individual members expose their wounds, only then can the boards be linked together. When I show my groove, then the other boards can come close to me and interlink with me. Only when we are honest with each other and open about our wounds can our group become truly strong. To hide from each other is synonymous with not linking and not becoming strong.
In Scripture, this phenomena is called “the fellowship of suffering” (Philippians 3:10). Those who suffer together are connected beneath the surface, as wounds are both revealed and relieved by those in the group. We are strong not just when we reveal our wounds, but also when we come to the relief of the wounded. We join with them, support them, and allow our strength to fill in their weakness.
© Samuel Kee, 2011