when you don’t have community

My parents were pastors when I was growing up which meant we were always surrounded by people.  I was born into a built-in community.

We were at the church almost every day for services, or Bible studies, or potlucks, or women’s meetings, or outreaches.  We constantly had people from the congregation over.  We constantly went over to people from the congregation’s homes.  We grew close with those church families in our same neighborhood.  We had meals, movies, hikes, parties, celebrations, outings, group trips, swimming days, bike rides, and holidays always surrounded by our community.

And it was a great atmosphere to grow up in with this band of people who did life with you, got you, cared for you, and who were just “your people.”

I discovered at a young age that community is such a beautiful gift.

I have also gone through seasons with no community.  We have moved a lot and I had 3 kids in less than 4 years.  It led to times where there really wasn’t a group of “my people” in our everyday lives.  There have been so many times where it was just us for birthday celebrations and holidays and for Friday night pizza.  We had such fun together as a little family but I have also longed for that sense of community for myself and my children.  Because I have seen it, felt it, lived it and I want to have my own kids and family in a loving, thriving community.

Having days of no community has definitely opened some opportunity for a bit of deep introspection but it has actually made me look outwardly at the everyday people I might have passed up before in the past.  The people I interact with every single day but I never took time to know.  The guys at the bank, the barista young ladies, the man in the check-out line at the grocery store, the ladies at the post office….  As I run through their lines, I find myself taking the time to stop now, to ask questions, and to listen.  I hear their stories.  I see what they are going through.  I have joked with the barista and chatted about who has the best almond croissants.  I learned with sorrow that one bank employee recently lost a parent and my heart ached for them.  The grocery store clerk and I talk about our vacation plans and he gives me advice on raising my kids into teenagers.  The ladies at the post office hustle despite the recent surgeries they had gone through.

I have gotten these extraordinary snippets into their lives.

And they have asked me about my life too.  They joke with my kids, they offer lollipops and candy, they ask how I am doing, encourage me on the days I look a bit frazzled by motherhood, give me tips on the best way to cook meat, compliment my outfit, and have made me laugh and smile and feel like even if I am just a customer, I still matter to them.

On so many days, when I have ached for the kind of community I grew up in, I can now see how God did give me community.  It just came a little differently then I thought.  It came in my every day occurrences served by some remarkable people.

Maybe today you are in a season where you feel the lack of community.  Maybe it hangs heavy on your heart even.  While you wait and work on building your community, I encourage you to truly see those you interact with every day… whomever that may be.  Your neighbor.  The elderly lady down the street.  The gas station attendant.  The barista.  The banker.  The bakery owner.  Anyone who has become a part of your every day world.  Perhaps God has them in your life right now for a reason.  Perhaps God has you in their lives right now for a reason.  And maybe they won’t turn out to be “your people” as you build your community, but maybe you will be a blessing to each other for today.

If I have learned anything in these days of no community, it’s that community really is all around us.  I hope your heart is filled in knowing you are never alone.

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