Why I need to belong

One of my favorite TV shows returned last week, and though I was a little disappointed by the episode (sorry, I’m not familiar with The Hunger Games, so maybe it’s my fault), I’m glad it’s back. And a couple of nights ago, I dreamt about the cast from another of my favorite shows.

Either I’m watching too much TV (true) or I’m sorely lacking in friends (also true).

Now, before you throw me a pity party or get mad (Hey! What about me? I’m your friend.), let me clarify.

Recently, I identified a need, one that hasn’t been filled in a while. (Even saying that sounds selfish, but everyone has needs and filling those needs makes us more complete as people.)

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Photo by Stephanie Hofschlaeger/SXC.HU

I need community. A place to belong.

Having transplanted from Illinois to PA Dutch (German) country, belonging might be wishful thinking. It’s not that people here aren’t nice or friendly; it’s just that most of them have lived here a long time and have family nearby.

And life is busy. I get that. Most of the time I forget the hole created in my life because I don’t have community.

But then we’ll stop at our friends’ house in western Pennsylvania and we’ll share Chinese food while our kids run off together to play and sleep in each other’s rooms. We’ll watch The Golden Globes and make fun of celebrities. And in the morning, over coffee and donuts, we’ll find it hard to pull ourselves away.

“Can’t you just stay?” our hosts always ask us.

And my heart screams “Yes!” every time.

One of my deep longings is to be surrounded by people doing this life journey together. I want to share meals. And childcare. And burdens over cups of coffee. I want to meet regularly with a group of people–women, especially–who don’t have it all figured out and just need space to vent and cry. I want to pray together. Laugh together. Cry together.

To me, this is a picture of how the church is supposed to function. Every day, not just on Sundays.

I have found community online with like-minded readers and creators, but it’s not the same as having flesh-and-blood people in your life. (I have those. And I love every one of them, but even 30 minutes or an hour seems too far away sometimes.)

In my frustration and sadness at not having community, I’ve closed my own doors. I’ve self-focused on our home. Our kids. Our crazy life. Frankly, I’m often embarrassed by the mess that is our house, the little that we have to share (which is still a lot by comparison), the uncertainty that is our life.

But this week I realized that I can’t wait for community to find me. I can’t sit around waiting for people to knock on my door and ask to journey with me through life. (About the only people knocking on our door these days are Jehovah’s Witnesses. They come to speak with my husband. In his absence, I fear they’re going to start in on me.)

No. Community starts with me.

With an invitation to share a meal.

Or a commitment to pray for a situation as it’s presented.

Or a Valentine treat for a neighbor.

Or a question about how someone else is doing with this whole life thing.

For community to happen, I have to lose interest in myself and my problems (at least for a few minutes) and seek out others.

This show that I love that returned this week, it’s called Community. It takes place at a community college and revolves around a study group that first got together for mostly selfish reasons. A shared class brought them together regularly, whatever the motivation. And over time, these regular meetings morphed into friendship. Yeah, they’ve had ups and downs. But they’ve stuck together. And, as one of the characters pointed out this week, they’re going to change and face changes together but they’re still going to be friends.

I believe community is a God-given longing. Jesus could have walked the earth by Himself, healing people and doing miracles, but He picked a core group of people to walk with Him. Probably more for their sake than for His, but then again, Jesus knew community from the time time began. God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are three-in-one, a holy community.

I don’t know what community is going to look like for me or my family. I just know that I have to be the one to open the door and invite others in.

And it won’t be perfect.

It might even be messy.

But I’m okay with that.

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5 thoughts on “Why I need to belong

  1. Lisa – I think you are describing my life, too! I get it. I’m not that good (or at least I’m not quick at it) at making friends. It is certainly tough living in a place where nearly everyone has some sort of family nearby. I was just talking to my husband about how much harder it is to make and develop friendships as adults and especially when you have multiple kids. Then when they start school … That’s a whole new dynamic.
    I need to make the first step in initiating friendships – even if it feels hard. I know there are other moms out there who need a friend, too.
    I listen to podcasts from Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. One of the things he talks about a lot is living our Christian life in community. We need to do life together. Always a good reminder (though sometimes it makes me feel guilty that I need to develop my community) when I listen to him.
    Thanks for being honest and transparent!

    (If you guys move close to Vestal,NY we can have community together there. My husband just took a position there, and we will be moving in the coming months. So it will be a time to take the initiative and create a new community of friends there.)

    • Before I had kids, I made friends at work. Then when I stayed home with the kids, I didn’t think about how hard it would be to make friends. I’ve made a few now because of activities our daughter has been in, so I’m hoping school will provide that opportunity to. I hope all goes well with your move! I mapped it; that’s only like 3 hours from where we live now. I don’t know if we’ll head north, but if we do, I’ll be sure to let you know!

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