If you’ve lived on this planet for more than 5 minutes, you know how vitally important community is. It’s a thread of life. We have been designed to live in relationships with people all around us, so much so that I think it secretly defines a lot of what we do, especially for those of us extroverts.
I would not call myself an expert on community, in fact, I may be the exact opposite. I tend to place tons of expectations on everything -- especially people. You would think that by the age of 24 i would stop doing that, but for some reason I just keep on keepin’ on with it. Honestly though, I think many of us do that. We have these vibrant and vivid imaginations that carry us to ideas and expectations for how our life and especially our community should look. I think it’s hard to not do that though just because we are bombarded with so many cultural norms that make community look a certain way; social media, movies, even church. Exclusivity seems to be a common thread. If you are cool enough, you can sit with us or “YOU CAN’T SIT WITH US!” because you don’t fit the look of what I want in a friend.
This past weekend, I was grabbing brunch with a girlfriend I hadn’t seen in a few months, we started talking about community and why it seems so difficult to find that “authentic” fit. We talked in circles about the dangers and beauties of social media and opinions and looks and all of it. My take away from it was not only that we need to focus more on loving individuals rather than ideas they carry, but we need to stop deciding what is best for us based off our imagination.
We do this in every area of our lives, dating, jobs, schools, friendships -- all of it. In my years of hanging out with Jesus, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m usually wrong, as much as I try to fight it. Not all of my friends need to look like I do, not all of them have to be extroverts, not all of them have to be interested in Southern Grunge aesthetics, or be interested in folk music; a little diversity is nice.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
I mean, look at Jesus and the disciples, they came from all walks of life: fishermen, accountants, bookies, lawyers, doctors. I bet they all shared quite a few different opinions. Sure, it is so great to have friends that you have tons in common with, you need that, but it’s so valuable to have people in your life that will challenge you to know yourself, your ideas, and your convictions better. The trick is to choose relationship over a difference in opinion.
In my life, a lot of my best friends don’t live in the same city, let alone the same country as me and it is a lot of work -- it’s also not just up to me. I think we can forget that, it’s important to not just leave it in the hands of the other person, because if we’re being honest, they probably feel the same as you. If tod hasn’t reached out to you in a week, just freaking call the dude. It’s that simple. Sure, you may feel like you’re the only one doing “all the work,” we’ve all been there, but one day you’ll be on the other side and you probably won’t even notice. That’s usually how it works.
While I’m on the subject of community, we really need to work on our communication and our vulnerability. It is totally, 100% ok to tell the truth. If you are having a bad day, stand up in strength of vulnerability and say you’re having a bad day. It’s ok to ask for help. It’s ok to text or call someone and say “Hey, can you pray for me, I’m having an awful day.” Chances are, if you feel alone, you actually aren’t, you just forgot that it’s ok to be vulnerable. People are actually amazing if you just give them a chance.
I know in my life, I have cried myself to sleep too many times, thinking I’m totally alone but actually being surrounded by an amazing community who would have been there for me in a heartbeat, if I had just asked.
I think if we just change up how we see things, we might actually be able to form true, genuine connections. Yes, sometimes friends are just for seasons and you don’t have to be everyone's best friend, I mean Jesus spent most of His time with a small group of homies, that’s important to note too. Community is just pursuing Christ together, leaning on each other when we need it, celebrating with each other -- loving despite.
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”