Surprise, surprise ... I'm going to blog about community now. You knew it would be that or contentment, right??
I continue to be fascinated by the concept of community, and my lack of understanding of it, or perhaps my altered understanding of it. I'm not sure. From what I can tell, most people are also smitten on this idea. We status update our friends via Facebook and twitter in hopes that someone out there cares that I just changed my 400th poopy diaper for the year. Many of us blog conversations taking place in our head that we'd rather probably be voicing to a person in real life while holding a glass of cheap wine. (Which I will admit is what I'm doing right now. But then, it's only noon ... too early to drink I suppose.) We go to church hoping to connect with like-minded friends who are walking, or have walked the road we are on. We have block parties to meet the neighbors. We put our kids in leagues and teams and scouts of some kind so they will form their little baby communities. And we use most any social outlet (as previously listed) to "spy", for lack of a better term, on what the rest of our community is up to. We are curious. We want to be a part of something more. We take their blogging, twittering, grouping lives to be an invitation into thier world. We want to share our lives with the world....or some of them at least.
This past week I had the privaledge of sitting down with a few old friends. Friends I haven't spoken with in real life (meaning other than Facebook) in YEARS...many, many years. There was a day when these friends and I walked through some big life moments together. We shared trials, joys, past failurs and hurts, and future dreams and current realities. It was beautiful at the time. (Or at least I see it's beauty now. I perhaps didn't so much at the time. More on that in a bit.) We felt loved and accepted ... as if we belonged. Then we grew up. Some of us got married, some of us had kids, some of us got divorced, some of us remained single and served the Lord in unique and fascinating ways. We all went different directions and were forced to find a new place to belong.
We began to talk about how hard it is to build community. How hard it is to start over. How hard it is to share your messy life with people who will most likely reject you once they hear the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help us all God. (Or so we think.) As I sat their hearing them tell how they have no friends, but are trying to reach out despite how uncomfortably hard it is ... a few things began to click in my disconnected brain.
For starters, there is nothing new under the sun. As much as we say now that it was so great way back when when we all had each other, I vividely remember us all complaining to each other about how we had no friends, and no one liked us, and everyone thought we were crazy. I realized that we feel the same now as we did then, just surrounded by new people and in new life circumstances.
Upon such a realization, I decided to point out that there is nothing original about how any of us feel. Sure, we all live in different circumstances, thus life and community plays itself out differently. But there truly is nothing original about the emotion itself of not belonging. They sat there telling me that it's easy for me to say ... I'm a pastors wife. Everyone wants to be my friend. After I finished throwing up a little bit in my mouth, I pointed out that I had that same dillusion in my life once upon a time until I realized that it wasn't true. A small reality of my individual situation is that everyone thinks I'm the pastor's wife, so I must have a lot of friends. Everyone is probably always fighting for our time and inviting us over ... so why would I make time for them. What really has happened as a result of such thinking, is that we've spent many a weekend nights and holidays alone. For another friend, it could be a divorce with a child. Where does she fit in? For another who is the 30 year old single and watching all her friends get married and start a family ... where does she fit in? For another it is a move combined with lots of small children and not even knowing how to get out the door, let alone build community. Where does she fit in? What about the woman who married a non christian and has been seperated from her church family as a result? Where does she fit in? Don't tell me the answer is Facebook or I'll smack you. ;)
So what then? What is the solution? I asked Aaron if I have an unrealistic idea of what community is. He said I do. I don't know if I agree with him. While I recognize that I tend to inflate my ideas, I'm not sure they are unrealistic at the core. The scriptures reveal to us time and time again what community is to look like. We are to walk with each other in love, meeting each others needs, calling out sin when we see it, repenting of our sin to each other, forgiving one another, being hospitable, and above all (from what I understand) - serving one another for the sake of the Gospel. It's really a better life that we all desire that God has breathed into scripture for us. So then, why is it so hard to live out? Why do we close up our homes, our garages, our hearts, our families, our time, our belongings, our talents??? Why do so many of us walk through life feeling so alone?
Aaron and I kept trying to point out to our friends that in our un-original emotions of feeling alone - it really is a big disasterous ploy of the Enemy himself to break apart the body of Christ. He knows that our most fullfilling, life-chaning, effective, God-glorifying selves will come to life through a thriving community. Of course he will try his hardest to tear that down!
Me personally then ... what can I do to war against such lies? (Those lies being: no one likes me, I'm too crazy or too messy, I'm all alone, blah blah blah... insert your communial lie here...) Well, I repent of my sins to those around me. I pause upon a realization that I'm judging others for not living the community and life I think they should be, and instead continue to chip away at that darn log in my own eye. I lovingly speak the truth to those around me. (Which unfortunately has resulted in the loss of a couple of friendships lately .... but that is beside the point, as I remind myself that the response of others to spiritual admonishment is not up to me.) I open my home, my heart, my talents (few as they may be), my family, my resources, my time. And I do this again and again and again no matter how fearful I become of rejection, or lonliness, or judgement, or the realization that I'm probably too much or not enough depending on the person in front of me. I blog, I Facebook ... wait ... argh. And of course, I invite you over for a glass of cheap wine. (Only don't wait for the invitation, just stop by !)
And they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all,as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. ~Acts 2: 42-47~