Friday, September 23, 2011

In Community

I remember something ‘big’ happening to me just prior to leaving for college right after my graduation from high school. It was bigger than big. It had life changing ramifications. I needed to talk to someone. But as I looked around me I couldn’t bring myself to trust anyone within my friendship circles. Maybe it was embarrassment, perhaps fear, for sure confusion reigned in my head. So, instead of seeking help I hunkered down and closed in on myself. I needed others but couldn’t bring myself to share what I needed to share. I needed to share a secret but didn't have anyone I could trust. Talk about feeling lost.

Hunkering down and closing in on myself became a pattern. Occasionally, I'd gather my courage and venture towards openness but most times I found that what I shared got mishandled and used against me. So I hunkered down deeper thinking that what I needed was within myself. It was a lie.

I'm sharing this because I'm writing a series of blogs about what I want to be known for. Thus far I've declared that I want to be known for being present to God and available to others. I now add a desire to be known someone who lives 'in community'. What does that mean? I think it means helping to create community. It means appreciating the communities I already have, It means allowing myself to be known within those communities and to extend myself to know others. It means being nourished and nurtured by community. I think it means being rooted in community.

'Doing life alone' isn't what I want to sign on for. Been there. Done that. Not satisfying.

Let me confess something. I have some very idealized notions of what 'community' is all about. During the course of writing this I've come to realize that my idealism has gotten in the way of appreciating what I already have. And I have plenty. I have been blessed with all kinds of community experiences. What I often lack is an appreciation of them and what they mean for my life. I am blessed.

Now there's a part of me that yearns for a deeper sense of community. That yearning may lead to something new or perhaps God using me as a change agent within existing communities. In all honesty what I long for scares me a bit for it will require something more of me and force me to ask some questions about why I hold back from that which I need.

At the heart of all this,of course, is an understanding that God didn't design us to do life alone. That's never been part of His plan. It's life together. As I look at the world in which we live I have a sense that we're all going to have to rethink notions of community again. The economic, emotional, and spiritual realities of our immediate future are going to force us together in dependent ways. I think we are all going to need to be known for being 'in community'. That's going to require some major paradigm shifts and massive behavioral and attitudinal adjustments. It sounds scary but it also sounds like a great opportunity.

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