How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! Psalm 133:1 (NIV)
I realized something this week. It’s the first week of school as I type these words, the end of the second day of school (although fall has been well established by the time you are reading them) and I realize how much God loves me. For a number of reasons, but today I want to talk about lessons and community in particular.
God has been talking to me about friendships lately. I guess you could say He started this conversation with me last spring when my husband and I attended a parenting life group at our church and the leader talked about how much time she and her husband invest in their children’s lives instilling the importance of good friendships and what that means. At the time I thought, “I really haven’t done that with my kids. Sometimes I remember to pray for their friendships, sometimes I remember to encourage their friendships, but I don’t really sit down and discuss the importance of picking good friends and being a good friend.”
I moved around a lot during childhood so just when I was starting to establish good friendships, I would leave and have to start all over again. Instead of learning how to stick things out, I learned that eventually I would leave so I better not get too attached. I learned how to be the “new girl” with the “strange accent” and soon enough…I was gone and starting all over again. I have said many times that when I married my husband I not only got a great man and a wonderful new family, but well-established roots. We live in the house next door to his parents and two of our kids go to the school where he attended kindergarten through twelfth. I was “grandfathered in” and it was nice.
God had other plans for our youngest and as a result, last year everything was new, for all of us. It was something I was quite familiar with – establishing a reputation and slowly connecting to the teachers and other mothers while helping our youngest learn the importance of friendship. By the end of the school year, I could say that I had quite a few friends as well as our son having established his own.
Which brings me to today – the second day of school. Yesterday it was really nice seeing friendly faces and even though our kids aren’t necessarily in the same classrooms with each other again, we still took a minute to catch up while having the opportunity to meet new parents of new classmates. Instead of reassuring our littlest that he would be okay and make friends, we talked about helping out the kindergarteners who might be scared and nervous, like he was last year.
In the midst of it all I took time to think about the blessings God gave me personally. A teacher who texted me to help her in her classroom, giving our littlest and a friend time to reconnect before school started to help ease them back into the routine. That same friend also initiated a chance to connect regularly. We now have a date to walk the track after school, inviting anyone else to join us if they want. And the biggest blessing of all? Today, as I was multitasking with a conference call while waiting to pick up our new first grader, one of my friends came over to the car to chat with my daughter. Even though I couldn’t join the conversation, today, it was so nice to know that someone I respected was breathing life and truth into my daughter in a way that I can’t. Because our values are the same, I have confidence our daughter was built up in that ten minutes instead of sitting quietly listening to a meeting she didn’t understand.
I’m finally understanding the blessings of community. There are several parents at our youngest’s school who also attend our church which further cements the bonds. I’m looking forward to getting to know them better, introducing them to my other friends, and most importantly, continuing to grow our community of parents and kids.
Moving around most of my childhood didn’t help me to understand the importance of community. I do feel blessed to have experienced the positive aspects of being introduced to different regions of the U.S. as well as different cultures, but the blessings continue to grow as God patiently and lovingly allows me to experience the blessing of community personally as well as sharing it with my children.
© Cheri Swalwell 2015