Are you living in community?
That question sure seems to be popular right now. The encouragement to develop authentic, doing-life-together relationships with people, the chastisement to stop hiding, stop being afraid of getting hurt – it’s all the rage, isn’t it?
So we’re all plodding along, pushing through our fears, our nerves, our past experience that tells us people can be challenging and relationships can be complicated. We’re accepting invitations, asking hard questions, offering a hand or a hug to someone who needs it.
But how do you know when you’re finally doing it, when you’re doing life together, when you’re living in community?
True community can be elusive, like the unicorn or Smurfs. But after searching for it so long with such determination, you want to know when you’ve found it, am I right?! Lucky for you, I’ve figured out exactly how to know when you’ve really found community – and I’m happy to share.
How to Know if You’ve Found Community
Now, you might think that the first clue that you’ve created real community among your group of friends is when you get a phone call – or worse, hear the doorbell ring – and realize your friends are going to see your not-ready-for-company house, and you don’t panic. (Sure, you might shove a few things in the hall closet, but that’s normal.)
Or you might think that true community is clearly happening when you get together with friends and their families, and throughout the evening you realize someone else is feeding your child while you’re wiping her kid’s nose and your friend just hollered at your husband for his off-color joke while her husband just asked you for the recipe for the brownies in the kitchen.
Then again, maybe you’ve recognized community when you find yourself needing help – a spare tire, a last-minute babysitter, a couch to crash on halfway through your road trip – and you know exactly who to call. And you don’t even feel guilty or nervous about asking.
Or maybe it’s when you find yourself hugging your friend’s parents at the birthday party without that awkward I-don’t-really-know-you-but-I’m-hugging-you feeling, texting her just to say you’re thinking of her, opening drawers and looking for the salad tongs instead of asking where they are, confessing your deepest secrets and listening to hers, laughing until you cry over remember-when stories and inside jokes, or spending the night debating everything from the best season of The Office to theology and politics to the appropriate way to wear skinny jeans.
But for me, community – true, authentic, in-your-face-and-your-heart community – has never been more apparent than the night I shared with my friends that I had a bad case of poison ivy. (Yes. Again.) And their response? It was not sympathetic murmurs and gentle hugs, nor was it offers of home remedies or their own poison whatever survival stories. No, ma’am. My friends, my people, my community LAUGHED AT ME.
Oh yes! They laughed. And they mocked. And they said things like, “Really? What kind of, ahem, extracurricular activities were you doing at the church picnic to get poison ivy THERE?”
And as I sat there with tears in my eyes from laughing so hard, I thought, “Yes. This is community. This comfortable like my stretchy pajama pants, familiar as my own reflection, laugh at you and with you, call you out on your crazy and hug you through it family – this is community.”
Now it’s time for the $64,000 question . . .
Have YOU found community? How did you know when you’d found it?
(in)RL GIVEAWAY: Won’t you share in the comments or link up your stories below? We’d love to hear your heart as we all “check-in” on how we’re doing with this whole community thing.
And we’d love to give one of you who shares our brand new, hot off the presses, DayBrightener from (in)courage. It’s full of quotes from this community – from our friendship-lovin’-hearts to yours!
ABOUT MARY CARVER
Mary is a recovering perfectionist who writes about giving up on perfect and getting on with life. She's also mom to a sweet (and sassy) preschooler and wife to her high-school sweetheart. When...