Monday, January 31, 2011

January Reflections: Community

After a fun-filled but non-stop weekend, I'm sitting here now in what seems like sudden quiet trying to collect my thoughts and focus on this last January reflection.

There was an abundance of provoking final prompts for January Reflections, but a recent scarcity of writing time has meant I'm only going to expand on one.  

When Dan and I first began the process of becoming a couple, we incorporated other people at every stage.  We spent most of our together time in our community, which consisted of family, friends, church groups, and the displaced young people with whom Dan worked.  We went out for coffee alone once or twice a week but other than that, the remainder of our time together was spent in community.  I can safely say that I learned more about Dan while watching him in his interactions with others than I did during afternoons sitting in the smoky haze of the Blue Cafe, chatting over a cafetiere of yummy hazelnut coffee.

This continued after our marriage.  We spent a week-long honeymoon in Edinburgh, then returned home and unconsciously set the foundations for our community-based future life together when two of Dan's cousins joined us for our first dinner in our new living space.

Over the course of nearly a decade, our home has often been graced with guests staying for a weekend; American family visiting for weeks; French foreign exchange students; and longer-term boarders.  People we know, people we've never met, people we sort of know, you name it, they've stayed.  Our children have grown accustomed to meeting people and then saying goodbye to them after a few days.   Lack of stability?  No, just an open home.  We're running out of room now, and our small house seems to be bursting at the seams sometimes, but it doesn't matter because community is at the heart of who we are.  Community is opening your home and your life to people.

Community is fun: it's drinking real coffee while talking about everyday things; it's sarcasm and jokes with double meaning flying thick and fast without anyone taking offence.  It's listening to a friend tell you about their struggles with a difficult relationship.  Praying with someone who's hurting deeply.  Asking for prayer when you need it.  Making yourself accountable in a group setting.  [Private struggles sometimes need to be brought into the open in order for healing and change to happen!]  Community is learning more about God together, in so many different ways: sharing experiences, studying the Bible, praying together, listening to God, living out His love for people in our everyday lives.

I feel as if I'm just skating over the surface here, covering comfortable Christian territory.

Community is so much more.  It's seeing the distasteful side to someone's character and loving them anyway.  Arguing with a friend over a difference of opinion, and remaining friends.  Realising you've been awful to someone, and listening to them graciously accept your apology.  Refusing to feel offended, and choosing to love instead.  Accepting the truth from someone, even if it hurts to hear  it.  Walking through the grieving process together after a friend takes their own life.

Loving people as if they were Jesus creates community.  No matter who they are and whatever the cost.

And maybe I sound a little presumptuous, as if I've experienced it all and have it figured out. But I'm living with my money where my mouth is, and if you know me, you know that's true!


  1. Your kids will undoubtedly carry on the tradition of having a warm, loving, and open home. What a neat foundation to have!

  2. Anonymous4:24 pm

    I enjoyed reading your blog today, I got off work early and have a few peaceful - ish momments to myself! I was thinking about 'real' community and my online community which contains some very real friends too and how the principles of community can apply in some measure to these distant friends too... I am grateful that I'm not an island - if only thanks to the internet some times!! ☺

  3. Thanks, Melissa, and Anon... you've reminded me how much I appreciate my online community too! It's interesting how many forms real community can take. :)


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