The Power of Community
Life gets busy. We are constantly going, going, going. We don't stop unless we have to. Sometimes we use busyness to isolate ourselves from building community and connection (coming in the next post) with others. We keep ourselves in our own bubble with maybe a few others who we feel are "safe". The problem with this is that we were created for community. Whether an extrovert or introvert, community is vital.
What do we mean by community? Here are some thoughts I found online:
* a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests and goals.
*a group of people living together in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.
*Community is more than a "place", it is a feeling and a set of relationships among people (ssir.org)
*members feel a sense of trust, belonging, safety and caring for each other.
*referred to as a location, town, "our community".
There are myriads of thoughts and definitions on what community is. I live in a community (my town, my neighborhood). My work could be considered a community, the groups I'm a part of, a church, family, friends, and yes, even social media. We often don't belong to just one community, if we're talking about a more physical, or location driven sense of community or based on different interests. Now, at the same time we can be within a community and not "feel" like a part of that community. We just exist within it, keeping to ourselves or trying to change it to be just like us (which will bring us to our next post on connection). We often create our own communities with those who only agree with us and our thoughts and opinions. We don't make room for others or for ourselves to learn and grow through our interactions with others who have different thoughts and opinions than us. We might go into a community expecting to alter it to fit us. Sadly, if we choose to live in a box of our own making, we push people away and isolate ourselves.
I have learned over the last handful of years, that what I thought was community was too narrow minded. Community (other than location/physical) always seemed to revolve around agreement, same beliefs, values, etc...which is all well and good, and some of our "communities" will have that, however, I also learned that when agreement was tested, community based on that agreement only, dissolved. I was still who I've always been; the same values, same character, same fun loving me, just a re-thinking of some beliefs and mindsets, but boom, uh, where did many of those I thought were my people, my tribe go. Yes, we stepped away from the physical community, but we didn't leave the country. I found myself thinking "well, gee, I should have made a whole lot more friends in more places". Differences don't need to be awkward if we can just find a way to love people simply for who they are and if agreement isn't the #1 on our list when it comes to relationship.
Which brings about some questions...can you have community and not have 100% agreement? Can you have community and allow people to have their thoughts, opinions, and feel safe in sharing them and you not feel threatened by them? Or feel you need to correct or change them? Can you be a part of community and be willing to think outside the box and maybe change the way YOU think? Can you be a part of community without feeling like you have to make everyone think like you? Can you be a part of a community and just love and enjoy people for who they are, where they are? When someone does something that challenges agreement what do you do? Do you turn on them or do you listen to them, and whether you agree or not, you continue to love and walk in relationship and connection because agreement wasn't #1?
We were created for community, community with a variety of people, to learn, to grow, to love. I want to create a sense of community around me where people do feel safe, feel a sense of trust, feel genuine love and caring, and that they can share something and I will rejoice with them, whether I agree or not. I want to create a sense of community where people don't have to feel guarded or judged. Where I don't have to feel guarded or judged. Community in my mind goes deeper than a "group of people", but into a sense of value, worth and importance.
Community can be messy, confusing, irritating, hilarious, full of love, honor and respect, sometimes the opposite, but community is always powerful! Community steps in when there's a need. Community goes beyond itself to see others, it is other centered. I haven't always done community right or understood it completely, but I'm learning.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on community.
With Joy Unquenchable,