There should probably be a lot of blog posts with this title. Because well, lets face it, we all tend to have a lot of "adventures" when it comes to community. It's not always the easiest to participate in; we don't always like who we're "doing" it with; we don't always agree with everything that goes on in and amongst it. But it's necessary. We were designed to be and live in community. We were created for it. And so we must try. We must learn to live together and learn together and grow together, and do this thing called life together, in community.
Ben and I feel that community is integral to our walk through life. It is a vital part of our growth as individuals, as a married couple, as parents. It is vital to our growth in our relationship with the Spirit, Jesus, and His Father. But just because we feel something is integral...vital...necessary...it doesn't mean its easy...
When we first moved to G.P we went church shopping for quite a few weeks (months really) until we decided on a church that was, what we felt, very welcoming. We were greeted warmly with handshakes and bright eyes and wide grins. We felt that with the size of the church and how welcoming it was it would be easier than other churches to get to know others as well as get involved.
Fast forward a full year. We were not where we were expecting, anticipating, hoping, thinking we would be in regards to friendships and our church community. We knew that we were part of the problem, but not the whole problem. While the church we had been attending (and still do) was extremely friendly, we didn't feel that there was enough follow-through, which I am learning is a huge asset to many areas in ones life.
I find that making friendships and creating community as an adult is much harder than when I was younger. Now, I feel like I'm dating...which I never really liked anyway. I had noticed also, that when I became pregnant the first time, it became more apparent to me that I was actually much more introverted and a "homebody" than I thought I was/am. I dislike small-talk, don't like to share too much information, and tend to feel quite awkward standing around in moments which are intended for mingling. So how does one create friendships and community? Especially when one is actually craving it, but feels stuck inside their comfort-compound they have built up over many years?
And I wonder, is "church community" any different than "non church community?" If so, how? Even just typing that I feel that there are differences, but obviously many similarities. The church is called to live in community as Christ lived in community. We (as in Ben & I) believe that, that includes spending time together just "hanging out", eating meals together, learning together, studying The Word together, laughing together, eating together, sharing our burdens together, calling one another out on both positives & negatives (quick example: 'let's not talk about Sally that way' and 'you have a teaching gift, lets chat about where you're at with that' ). We believe it includes encouraging one another, supporting one another, eating with one another (have I mentioned that one yet?), getting to know each others passions and dreams and goals, praying with one another, blessing one another. And doing all of this while still maintaining your own separate family unit, remembering that we're each human, forgiving one another, and keeping our eyes on Christ.
Wowzers that's a lot to do eh? So how does one do this? I think first and foremost by pursuing a relationship with our Father, His Son, and the Spirit. And then by growing daily in that relationship. We do this by listening to the Spirit and His quiet promptings and nudges. We do this by changing our self-talk from "I can't..." to "I will..." and "I'm not that..." to "I am..." We do this by continually remembering that we are each human, with our own flaws, our own imperfections, our own insecurities and not holding any one to higher expectations than one should be. We do this by asking the Spirit to give us courage today to do our Father's will. And, we do this by not beating ourselves down when we didn't follow through the way we were hoping to. We pick ourselves back up, give thanks for another chance and try it all over again.
I know for me, meeting new people and having busy weeks full of community is exhausting, and so I need to take the time to prepare before, and to take the time to recharge afterwards. And I have to choose to trust that since He has called me live in community & fellowship than He will provide me with the strength, the courage, the energy, and the time to be a part of it.
Community is always a 'work-in-progress' so I encourage you to be gracious, be kind, be brave, and go live in community with one another.