I’ve spent a bit of time talking about community this week already and I want to talk just a little more about it.
The idea of building a community can sometimes feel as overwhelming as trying to build your own house without any construction experience!
For most of my life, I have felt like an outsider, no matter where I was. I always felt like those around me were in some kind of secret club with closer connections than I had access to. I constantly found myself on the outside looking in at some miracle of close-knit friendship bliss and wondered what I was doing wrong. Why was I never included?
Even last night, for a moment, I felt that twinge of being left out watching two of my friends interacting. However, I told myself that I am part of their community. They are a part of mine. Instead of allowing myself to wallow in feeling left out, I drove past them as I left, rolled down my window and connected for just a moment. Sometimes, all it takes is a little perspective shift, doesn’t it?
Because in midst of the awkwardness and self-consciousness, watching the clock tick the minutes by until I think enough time has passed to respond, the painfully honest moments with people around me, the week after week of Bible study with a solidifying cast of women – I’ve found myself in what looks suspiciously like a community.
I’ve found a group of people I can text with weird happenings during the day or a mom-centered lament that I know they’ll understand. I’ve found women who love Jesus and ask hard questions about faith and give gut-wrenchingly honest answers. I’ve found people who hate potty training just as much as I do and who long for conversations with people who are older than 2 or 5 or 8. I’ve found people that get me. I’ve found people who use words to rain blessings into the parched lives of others.
It’s like God whispered deep into my soul to take that chance, to reach out, to connect. Maybe they weren’t too busy for one more friend. Maybe they also longed for deeper connection. Maybe they had room for me. Maybe you have someone around you too who looks suspiciously like someone ready for community. Maybe the people who are naturally around you in your various activities are longing for better than “Fine” and “we should really get together” but then it never happens. Maybe it will take you taking a deep breath and deciding to go first, even with sweaty palms and shaking breath. It’s not bravery if there is no fear.
So perhaps today is the day. Perhaps today is the day that we reach out to that one person we’ve been wanting to connect with and saying hi. Perhaps today is the day we look around us and see where community is dying to be born. Perhaps today is the day we see that true community is built by sharing one moment at a time and is not a grand fireworks show of instant compatibility.
Community isn’t seeing how many people we can jam into our lives, but seeing how deeply we can invest into a precious few, like Jesus did with Peter, James and John. For all of his popularity and acclaim and hordes of followers, he invested his time into 12 men, of those 12 even more deeply into those three. Community certainly can be large group of people gathered under the same banner for a similar cause, but the deepest, most intimate sense of community is that which we build around ourselves with intention, inconvenience, and vulnerability.
We cannot grow forward without it.
Where have you discovered community lately?
Cari Jehlik is an exclusive member of Becky Thompson’s Writer Network. For more information on how to join, go to www.BeckyThompsonCourse.com