I realize that you're probably a little more interested in how to actually create community and a post about how to do the opposite is not really what you were looking for. But, before you head off to do that laundry you just remembered you forgot to do, let me explain.
I'm wondering if, when we think about how our desire for community always seems to be greater than our actual experience of it, maybe we should be asking why that is. And, so I'm going to propose a few possibilities to mull over while you're switching the whites out for the darks in the laundry room a few minutes from now.
I'm not drawing from any scientific or sociological research, mind you. I'm just going to offer you a little run-down of all the things that keep community from happening over here in my little world. Maybe you'll be able to relate.
The Distraction of Media - My husband just won a disturbingly large television at a work raffle. While I'm excited to be able to watch Mr. Darcy fall for Elizabeth Bennett like they are actually in my living room, I'm also biting my nails over whether this means the television is about to take over our home. Additionally, there have been moments when I've looked up from my iPhone and realized that my children are watching Curious George while I've been checking Facebook and my husband has his eyes glued to the sports news on his tablet. Those moments scare the Lucky Charms out of me. Media is a weird drug and a cheap substitute for actual face-time with actual people.
Fear - What if it's too hard to create the kind of community Acts 2 talks about? What if I try to make it happen and it just doesn't? What if nobody else wants to do this with me? What if...you name it, I'm going to think of a reason to let fear convince me the effort isn't worth it. But, it is. It's so worth it.
Vulnerability/Insecurity - Real relationships put us in close proximity to each others' hearts which is also having a front row seat to each others' sin. Do I really want to be that vulnerable with people? Being aware of each others' sin can be awkward and uncomfortable, but it can also be freeing. It's good to be reminded that none of us has it together. And if we're close enough to see each others' sin, then we're also close enough to offer real, honest-to-goodness grace to one another in a way that doesn't feel artificial or vague.
Unrealistic Expectations - The "perfect" community I imagine in my daydreams does not exist. People, including moi, are messy and confusing and broken and needy. This means that real community won't look like that Instagram photo of people sitting at a farm table in a foggy field somewhere eating locally sourced, rustic food while wearing Ralph Lauren's latest line of hipster/farmer attire, musing over the latest book of poetry they just read or maybe wrote. Wait, that's not what comes to mind when you hear perfect community? Well, regardless of what ideal image comes to mind for you, that's probably not it. I need to be reminded that real community is going to include some tough stuff at times. Doing life with people won't always be comfortable. But, it's still worth doing. It's worth being in the kind of community that loves you authentically, even at your worst. I need that. You do, too.
Laziness - Sometimes I'm just unmotivated and don't want to do the work it's going to take to make community happen. I forget that nothing worth having comes easy. Real relationships take work. It's easier to get on my phone and send pithy little messages to friends who live far away and call that community. But, when I'm lazy about working toward real, live relationships then I miss out on something my heart desperately wants and needs.
Unbelief - Do I really believe that God cares about me enough that He wants to place me in community with people who love me and love Him? It's easy to feel that He's got bigger fish to fry right now and my need for friendship isn't high on His list of stuff to get done. But, that's a lie from you know where. Your heart matters. My heart matters. It matters to Him that we are in real relationships with one another, speaking truth into each others' lives and loving the heck out of each other. He cares about that. He gets it. He made us for that kind of community.
What about you? What keeps you from creating community? What lies do you believe about yourself, about others, about God that keeps community at arms' length for you?
There are a lot of things that keep us apart from one another. The Enemy loves to help us build walls around ourselves so that we can keep each other out.
Today's a good day to choose something different.
|Our friends, the Rose-Levans, who represent some seriously great community to us.|