“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” Psalm 133:1
Anyone who knows me for any length of time soon discovers that I quite often say I wish I had been born in the Little House on the Prairie days. In addition, I love to read Amish books and it’s not entirely about the simple lifestyle they live, but more about the sense of community they have. I am introverted and need time alone, yet I thoroughly enjoy getting together in a crowd, sitting back and just watching the friendship, camaraderie, and fun that’s going on around me.
I can be quite lazy so the thought of working alone, in my house, doing chores all by myself is quite overwhelming at times. But, if I have to work, I’d rather enjoy fellowship with others to make the job more palatable. I have one particular friend who used to laugh at me because when it was time to clean my house every week, I would call her up and drag her from room to room, to brighten up an otherwise boring task. And you know what, it always worked! I’m not sure if she enjoyed the conversation as much as I did, but sharing my heart with a friend while I scrubbed the bathtub was much more enjoyable than just cleaning away soap scum alone.
I had the privilege on occasion to join in another friend’s circle while we made homemade laundry soap, baby food, etc. We each brought a dish to pass, as well as our kids, and it made the time (and the chore at hand) a lot of fun. I left those times of fellowship encouraged that others face the same issues with their kids I do and when I’m truly blessed, I’ve been offered a new approach to an obnoxious behavior in my children that needs correction. I’ve found more economical ways to shop, heard about sales I wasn’t aware of, and learned ways to tweak my budget which leaves a little more expendable income.
I think God ingrained that desire within all of us (introvert and extrovert alike) for a reason. He doesn’t want us to live secluded lives. He knew, in His infinite wisdom, that we need community, relationships, friendships, and a sense of belonging because sometimes this world can be hard, difficult, and let’s face it, not always something to look forward to.
There’s more to community, though, than just getting together for giggles. True community is when you can break down the barriers of self-imposed masks and expose your true selves, reassured that you’ll be loved, supported, and accepted, warts and all. Living inside a supportive community with close friends whom you can share your hurts, joys, sorrows, and praises isn’t as necessary for life as food, water, or shelter, but to live the truly abundant life God calls us to, He wants us to have that small, select group of friends whom we can be real with. He wants us to be able to feel comfortable to let down our guard without fear of what others will think. Instead, to know that we’re accepted as we are.
I agree that in today’s fast-paced society, it’s hard to connect on that level regularly because it requires time and work, two commodities that are scarce in most family’s lives. I admit that I myself in lacking in this area with the consistency I would like due to work schedules and deadlines I face during this particular season. Instead of getting upset about that fact, I choose to embrace the times I can connect on a deeper level with a group or even sometimes just one on one with another friend. I’ve learned to cherish those times just as much, although, I haven’t given up hope for a regular community of friends to whom my family can share our heart and they can share theirs.
If you don’t have that sense of community in your life, but desire it, what’s one step you can take to try and reach out to someone else who shares a similar lifestyle and interests? Are you willing to be vulnerable with another and take your friendship to the level of community you envision? Taking just one step in that direction might be all it takes. You never know, the person you ask might be waiting for an invitation from someone just like you!