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!

—>snag yours over here – they’re only $9.99!


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  1. 2

    A complete and utter lack of self-consciousness is the hallmark of true community:) Nothing like being laughed at by friends to make one feel loved!

  2. 3
    Michelle says:

    Community?
    It’s knowing I have a safe place to go and learn from others in our Sunday School class called `The Marriage Journey`.
    It’s in making true women friends in which I can be real and they in turn can be real.
    Most of my life I have been a `top-layer-only` friend. Afraid of what others may think.
    As I open myself up more it feels good to share with friends I can trust.

  3. 4

    The Word of God tells us what true community is in the book of Acts and through out the Bible. When studying psychology, I learned most people only have one or two, really, good, life long friend in their lifetime and that is considered normal. The Word of God tells us to be careful what kind of alliances we form. Community is all of what you mentioned on the surface.

    What really test the sense of community is accountability, first to God then to each other. After I became ill it was like I had a plague. I thought I had all the things you mentioned, but instead people began to trail off and not return phone calls, emails or letters. I stopped extending myself because it met with silence. It tested their faith because I was not, miraculously and instantly healed. The minister being a preacher of happiness and prosperity, stared the rumor I had hidden sin and unless I confessed I was to be an outcast.

    It took time for the Lord to become my constant community and the rest, well if it happened, fine, if it did not, fine, my peace was in God and not in any external relationships. Stepping out and putting yourself out there is no guarantee of community. I have tried many times sense 1985.

    In my younger days when I could work with the homeless, you could find pockets of community that define accountability as well as the basic human shortcomings of depravity. At the core of the accountability is first to God and that will manifest outwardly. The Apostle Paul stated he showed his faith by his works, because he was first accountable to God. The test is not the comfort we sense with one another but the willingness to die to self and seek the other’s needs, finding ways to answer such. The book of James talked about the community and what true religion that God desires, helping the needy.

    We have lost the true sense of fellowship (community). Life is not all drudgery of do and do, neither is it of the fleshly desire for comfort. In the first century church, the sense of community was birth in survival and persecution. Children still played and people still laughed, but there was a real sense of duty, being living sacrifices unto the Lord, dieing to self, daily and seeking His will for daily doings. We have lost this sense of urgency and diligence with great joy, like Christ who faced the cross. For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross. It is this kind of joy we no longer seek.

    May God bless us with the sense of urgency to His calling of true community.

  4. 5

    I’m finding community one simple friendship at a time. One conversation at a time.

    It hasn’t been this big explosive discovery. It’s been quietly sneaking up on me, until all of sudden I realize in the midst of friendships that I am surrounded by so much community. So many real lives intertwined with mine.

    And it’s bliss.

    • 6

      i get rejected again and again to where i don’t reach out anymore. our choir got canc in our church and i’m sick a lot, and people don’t accept my illness many times. so i don’t tell them and tend to just stay home a lot. i’d love to have a friend. but it’s so demanding, and hard to feel rejected so much. even secular friends that i pray for are so difficult. i don’t know , it’s so hard.

      • 7

        Hi Ann,

        In reading your post I realize I am not alone as I feel the same as you: alone. I’ve seen greater displays of “community” in the local non-believers than in those who call themselves Christians and this is disheartening. However, I’m not saying all are this way, it’s just is the case in the area I live in. However, know that you are not alone. I no longer feel alone knowing you are out there feeling as I do. I pray for God’s will in your life, that He show you His love and comfort through the challenges you face.

  5. 8

    I loved reading this. Reminds me of my own community… about 10 of whom sat in my living room last night… while my husband pulled out his laser beam app on his iPhone and we honestly shared hearts and lives with each other and my son bounced on and off of everyone’s laps.

    Beautiful, messy, couldn’t live without it.

  6. 9

    Community is a touchy subject for my husband and I right now. We got married last year and moved to a new home and a new church. It’s been very difficult to find true community within this place. We feel accepted… but not welcome.

    However, the community we left was authentic – and we miss it every day. We know we found true community there because: there was a heart of compassion, concern, and prayer for all. JESUS was the main topic and thought of our conversations – not just at church/Bible Studies, but while we were just hanging out… there was an inviting openness and welcoming to just BE YOURSELF – no masks, no pretend, no fear. Trust. I know even more, for me, that this is true community because, although my husband knew this group of people before I even met my husband – I instantly felt a true, authentic community connection with them only knowing them for one week!

    We both desperately miss this community – especially in the cold community we find ourselves among at the moment… however, I’m learning (thanks to Sarah Markley’s post on her blog today) to lose and let go of those unauthentic friendships, and patiently wait for the gain of the authentic ones…

    it’s a battle, and it’s tough, and at times I feel hurt and bitter, but, ultimately – I want the peace that comes from God… knowing that He has the best for me, even if it’s not in sight yet.

    • 10

      Anna, I feel for you because I have been there and still am sometimes. I would agree with you that authentic community is where you can truly be yourself with no masks, no pretending and no fear.
      I have been hurt in “community” and am thankful and surprised when Jesus wraps his love and care around me in a no-masks-no-pretending-real way through others. I have realized too that it doesn’t always come from the church you attend even though you think it would! Patiently waiting….that is hard to do and yet what comes of it is a treasure!

  7. 11

    I just love this invitation to reflect on what it is that binds these hearts of ours together. And I love your reminder that there is so much beauty and connection in laughter! I linked up a post I wrote in January on community, called “Breathe.” It was inspired by my friends and I, women I met at my children’s school and with whom I pray twice a month. There has been nothing else like pushing past the superficial stuff to begin a friendship with praying for the deep things tugging on our hearts. And these prayer times, through Moms In Touch International, are devoted to our children and how we need the Father, so desperately. Thank you so much, Mary.

  8. 12
    Lesley says:

    My church family is my “community”. I think this word “community” has become more of a “buzz word” for what I and many others see it as the Body of Christ. I am so thankful that God has made me apart of my local assembly and has placed men and women in my life that love the Lord and desire to serve Him. I have experienced situations where this group of people have wrapped their arms around and enveloped my family when we were facing a really difficult time. Even in the day to day situations I know I can turn to anyone of them for encouragement, support and love. When I’m not in a place to ask for help or prayer…God puts me on their hearts and I get a phone call, e-mail or text. I feel honored to be a part of His body. We are all inter- connected one to another and my prayer is that I am doing what He’s called me to do so that His body is fitting and working as He desires.

  9. 13

    I know I am in a community when I can overlook the differences in people and just be happy we are all together!

  10. 14
    Shawn Bensley says:

    Before 2012 started, I read somewhere think of a word that you want for the new year and purse that word. The word I came up with was connection. I wanted to connect with people in more than just a superficial sort of way. It’s September and I’m still not there. I have ladies I do bible study with and ladies I visit with at my son’s football games, and ladies that i chat with in church, but I haven’t really connect with anyone like i would like to,

    • 15

      Keep at it Shawn. You don’t always have to connect with just anyone. Be a little picky but still be friendly to all. And ask God for a close friend or group of friends. Ask and you shall receive but can you wait for His omniscient timing? Every blessing, Kelly

  11. 16

    Proverbs 18:24 says that in order to find a friend, you must first be friendly. I realize that this is a difficult step for some but if the triune Godhead needs 3, I would humbly suggest that we too need community. Every blessing as you get involved this fall in a community of believers.

  12. 17

    I found community through a mommy group. We share stories, we encourage each other all while letting our children play together. It’s been really good for me.

  13. 18

    ……..When you have other Moms that you can call or message and they understand where you’re coming from and what you’re feeling……When you can walk into church and truly feel like you belong…..When you feel like you’ve been so blessed that you want to pour it out on the people around you!

  14. 19

    Community to me is a place where you can sit with your pal’s, the silence is piercing, but okay. Where you can just be, feel peace, love and joy. Community is about respect – on so many levels. A group, as was mentioned in the post, where you can share your innermost heart, fears and secrets. I am thankful for the communities I am associated with, on and off line.

  15. 20

    I found community in my email group of friends that I email daily… sending out encouragement devotions or just stories of what’s going on with me… has become a community to me.. they reply, comment and I am so refreshed in hearing from them… IT’s been a blessing!!

  16. 21
    Sharon Lee says:

    Great friends at Bible Study, They are always there for me and will pray whenever I send an email or text.

  17. 22

    Looking for communiy in our new place after a move.

  18. 23
    Sarah Noll says:

    I found community a ocean away from the fabulous community I grew up with. We moved to Hawaii a couple years ago and it took a long time for me to find my place here. It took me reaching out and getting involved in my community, God granted me with a lovely group of friends here, whom I have a lot in common with despite our differences. I owe this partly to (in)courage and the conference I took part in last year. Mahalo! (thank you in Hawaiian)

  19. 24

    I love that we are spending time thinking and writing and reading about community. This is topic near and dear to my heart. I move a lot, fifteen addresses in fifteen years a lot. But I have been blessed to find amazing communities in each of these places. While Bible study has always been my heart community, which I wrote about in my link up, I also have been blessed by the communities I am building through my sons’ schools and even their hockey teams.

    Life is so much better when done together. Even for this introvert.

  20. 25
    muchalone says:

    I wish…
    wish I could be in community…
    I think I was once, but then we moved…
    I love reading the different community experiences–and how they reflect the amazing uniqueness of each person.
    At this time, I think community would be:
    the freedom to give a gift without receiving a reprimand…
    having a name to write in the balnk space on my son’s emergency card at school…
    having someone in my life who believes that I am worth their time, who would sit with me a bit and hear my heart as a breast biopsy looms in the near future…
    Ah…such grand wishes for connection…but they remain wishes…
    In my life, community is elusive.

    • 26
      Brooke Burger says:

      Praying for you Muchalone. I can relate. I have been in community in the past myself, but now I find myself on the fringes, accepted, sort of. I’ve come to decide that I am a “peculiar” person. LOL, its even Biblical. Yes, my heart goes out to you. Praying that you find your community and don’t feel so alone. Blessings!

  21. 27
    Carmen says:

    I found community when I miscarried. Friends and family were so helpful – whether it was support, food, or just a listening ear.

  22. 28

    I barely knew my neighbor, but I felt so comfortable with her. When I had a gall bladder attack in the middle of the night and had to go to the hospital, leaving my children alone in the middle of the night, I immeditately called her. She of course came over and stayed with them. We forged a great bond from that moment on.

  23. 29
    Felicity C says:

    You are right, community is finding youself rescuing someone elses child from falling out of a deckchair while your little one is practicing walking between 2 other ladies, and a whole bunch a girlies gather around your picnic rug and share and giggle.

    This happened to me at our churches picnic a couple of months ago. I was 35 weeks pregnant, and didn’t really want to go, but I am so glad I did. Feeling comfortable enough to be hugely swollen and pregnant in front of dearest people, knowing that someone else is looking after you LO, and trusting you with theirs, that felt like community to me.

    When we came home with our second daughter the girls from my church organised a meal rota for us, so we didn’t have to cook for 2 weeks. Bliss. Knowing you are being looked after and cared for, I think that is community to me.

  24. 30

    I knew I was in community when after spending a fun evening over at a friends’ house, I forgot I was supposed to go grocery shopping for lunches for my husband and I the next day. It was late at night and I SOOOO didn’t want to go to the 24-hour grocery store! Without a single moment of hesitation, my friend said, “Oh don’t go to the store now, I’ve got lunch stuff for you,” and proceeded to pack a whole lunch complete with dessert for my husband and I for the next day. And the best part is, I didn’t feel one bit guilty or embarrassed!

  25. 31

    I have enjoyed this community so much – it has added such blessings to my life that I can never express how deeply it has affected me!!

  26. 32

    the universal Body of Christ is the best community… I have found that the Lord allows different communities over our life times… but the richest are those that are based solely on peoples love relationship with Christ! I remember once, a year ago , when after being home-bound due to illness for some time, 2 members of a local large church that I did not attend, called and asked if they could visit…( a friend out of state clued them in to the fact I was quite ill at the time and most of my friends live in other states and around the world…).. when they came, it was community and comradery immediately.. we laughed, we cried, we prayed… that is true community…
    Cathy B*****y pbprojecthope at yahoo dot com
    palmbreezeliving.blogspot.com

  27. 33

    I know I’ve found community when I am excited for my weekly meet up with my girlfriend not because I need to vent about my life but because I want to hear what God is doing in hers

  28. 34
    Beth Williams says:

    When in college and away from home for first time I found community quickly. I had a neighbor down hill from me. My first night alone she brought me some of her supper complete with desert.

    Throughout my semester there she continued to offer me food, took me out to eat & even invited me to a super bowl party where she won free pizza.

    That is true Christian Caring community. I hope to be just like that one day!

  29. 35

    I thought I had community – and then REAL LIFE happened – and it went away. So we’re praying and searching.

  30. 36

    You know you’re in community when you love these women and/or men, like you love your family. When you know you wouldn’t want to live without them and when you realize that time and distance can never separate you from the most honest, authentic, wholly revealing relationships you’ve ever known. I am blessed with just such a community and often share about them in my blog http://www.freakinangels.com!

  31. 37
    cassie h says:

    i found my community in Christ when i was diagnosed with brain cancer. i am currently battling it right now. it was unbelievable the amount of people who gathered and supported around me during this time. some people i didnt even know started group prayers and prayer chains for me all because i was a fellow christian in need. this community in Christ has helped me tremendously with faith, courage and hope and most importantly in fighting this ugly disease!!!! i love them dearly for all they have done and are doing for me!

  32. 38

    We are moving across the country this fall…. And I am praying for this real, raw, honest, comfy kind of community for us in our new location. Yes Lord.

    Encouraging post for me. Blessings and joy to all :)

    - Kate

  33. 39

    Community is being nonprejudicial whether we’re homeless or rich or in between, we all need someone to befriend and pray for us.

  34. 40

    I think I’m almost there. With a few friends anyway. My problem is that I do much better one-on-one, so the minute I’m in a group of more than 2 or 3, my self-consciousness rises up again. But I have all kinds of personal-community-building things planned for the next month or two! It should be fun!

  35. 41

    No…..doesn’t really sound like I belong to a community….but it sounds
    like a great idea…..

  36. 42

    I am finding that community starts by being intentional. A hello with a questions. Time spent on a front porch. A hug for a stranger. An exchange of phone numbers. A book date.

  37. 43

    Thank you for this. Community, being a part of a local Body of Christ, is a wonderful thing! I recognize all those things you wrote about, because I used to have community. I didn’t really understand how important it is to do life with brothers and sisters in Christ. Now I’ve moved to a small town in the middle of nowhere because of work. I’m all alone, I don’t know anyone here. I’ve visited the churches in this small town, but there’s no true community here. People do church and then they go home and go on with their lives like nothing happened. Back in my old church, I felt at home right away. But here, I’ve never felt so out of place in a church before. It seems like there are no Christians who aren’t above 70 years old around here (no offense to any 70+ Christians out there, you guys rock, but me being in my 20s, I’d love to connect with people about my own age). Anyway, my point is that you really don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. To those of you who are in community, be thankful! It’s not something you should take for granted. To those of you who aren’t… well, at least you’re not alone in this situation. No man is an island, and I’m praying for more true community among Christians all over the world.

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  1. [...] To read my take on how to know if you’ve found community, visit (in)courage. [Hint: It involves poison ivy. Again.] [...]

  2. [...] His Grace • Denise in Bloom • Intentional.Me • Our Simple Country Life • Grace Alone • inCourage Rate this:Like this? Share this!MoreLike this:Like11 bloggers like this. This entry was posted in [...]

  3. [...] Jenni Mullinix • Red Oak Lane • Reflections of His Grace • Denise in Bloom • Intentional.Me • Our Simple Country Life • Grace Alone • (in)Courage [...]

  4. [...] His Grace • Denise in Bloom • Intentional.Me • Our Simple Country Life • Grace Alone • (in)Courage • Found the [...]

  5. [...] Oak Lane • Denise in Bloom • Intentional.Me • Our Simple Country Life • Grace Alone • (in)Courage • Found the [...]

  6. [...] Mullinix • Red Oak Lane • Denise in Bloom • Intentional.Me • Grace Alone • (in)Courage • Found the [...]

  7. [...] I’m excited to be linking up with the wonderful women at Incourage. We are linking up and sharing stories about “How do we stop hiding from and open ourselves up to [...]

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