*It's Day 7 of the 31 Day Writing Challenge, which is why I'm still talking about intentional community. (-; If you're interested in reading previous posts and maybe even following along for the rest of the series, check that out here: 31 Days of Intentional Community *
Sometimes my thirteen-year-old self resurfaces and I find that the strange tendency toward clique-y behavior isn't so far behind me. It creeps up unexpectedly and I don't realize that it's happening until I notice that I'm enjoying being on the 'inside" a little too much. It doesn't happen often, but every now and then, this 36-year-old adult reverts back to middle-school worthy relational habits. And it's not pretty.
Obviously, now that we're all older and wiser, we know better. And we're so above all that mean girl stuff. Right? Except when we're not. It just plays out differently now that we're not awkward middle-schoolers.
Looking back, I can see that insecurity was the underlying issue of most of the weird grouping dynamics in school. We were all just trying so hard to fit in somewhere, anywhere, that once we finally got in with a circle of friends, we wanted to close it up tight so that we could create the relational security we wanted so badly. I think we'd probably do more of that as adults if we weren't so busy doing other stuff like work, and dropping kids off at school, and getting adjusted at the chiropractor.
There are a lot of problems with that kind of behavior, but I'm just going to point out one. Mainly, because I'm not a psychologist and also because you don't want to read a dissertation by someone who doesn't know all that much (i.e. I just figured out "clique" isn't spelled "cliche," which changes this post entirely).
Essentially, we miss out when we don't let people in. All this talking about community and creating a circle of friends to relax into reminded me that we also need to be sure we're not creating cliques. Because that's easy to do without even realizing we're doing it.
C.S. Lewis, in The Four Loves, puts all this better than I ever could:
In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets.... two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth, if only the newcomer is qualified to become a real friend...
He goes on to explain that more than just helping bring out different facets of one another, we also reveal aspects of God to one another unique to our own experience: For every soul, seeing Him in her own way, doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest.
Your presence in a fellowship of friends is invaluable because it highlights aspects of each friend to the others through your unique perspective of them. Similarly, our specific experience of God gives our friends a glimpse into His character and His heart that they might not have seen were we not there to offer it. Each person we invite into our community has that same ability to shine a light into places we might have overlooked.
Community isn't a big crowd of acquaintances who spend time
together. But, it also isn't a tight circle that doesn't let anyone else
Lewis also said that friendship is the least jealous of loves. As we create
community, let's remember to invite people in.
For their sake, but also for our own.