Authentic community has been both an answered prayer and a thorn under the soles of my feet. What do I mean with that? Well from day one when Racheal began leading us through the class, I could hear my inner voice screaming “Yes! Yes! That’s it! I knew it! I knew it!” But as I went through it day in day out, my lazy voice inside me used to say ‘Do I have to do that? Really? But that’s not up to me! They just don’t get me, am unique, and if they don’t see that, then that’s their problem!”

I can’t begin to say how grateful I am to go through this course and learn to be INTENTIONAL in building friendships. I was challenged to get off my lazy back-side and work towards being a good friend. Listening is a big part of friendship that I chose to ignore and yet it is fundamental. Not just looking at the person talking to you and nodding but setting aside my assumptions of what the person needs, my prideful intentions, my quick judgments and really listen to heart of the person.

I learnt that I should expect a mutual exchange of kindness, service, commitment and love in a friendship. If there is no growth in reciprocity then that is not an actual friendship. One of the things that I found to be profound is that my relationship with God would adversely affect my relationship with people. I had no idea that they were related. This made me re-evaluate my connection with God and see whether we were good. I guess it taught me God is everything then comes people just like the verse of loving God with all your heart, mind and soul then loving other as we love ourselves.

Oooh!! And the juiciest part of the whole course was Masks. I tell you, that topic absolutely struck a huge chord in my heart not to mention made me really uncomfortable. I was an absolute mask-wearer, I might still be, but working on it. The revelation I got about masks is that If I wear one then others will too. If I hide the real me then I will not get the help I need for my struggles and hurts. If I hide then I will not get the love that I need.

With that, I began the journey of becoming the real me, loving people as they need to be loved, moving beyond the superficial and becoming Authentic. It does have its bumps and stops but it is worth it.

By Yvette Ntagozera

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