This week’s guest post comes to us courtesy of my friend Lisa, a kindred spirit I got to know during our Texas years. Lisa and her family were our first close friends to move away from that crazy land–it would happen again and again and again, as is the grad school norm, though it didn’t get easier. She is now raising her beautiful family in the middle of America, and as I type this, expecting her third child any day.
I’m certain I had a different definition of “community” growing up than I do now. Until I became an adult and part of a church body—the body of Christ—“community” meant simply the place that you live. Maybe that included things that looked and felt familiar: school, work, favorite restaurants, parks, annual festivals downtown (I still enjoy these things). I didn’t grow up part of a church and my parents hardly knew my friends’ parents. I didn’t know community then in the way I do now.
Our closest family member lives 150 miles away, and the rest are farther. It’s been that way, with one brief exception, since we were married almost eleven years ago. I used to feel the distance between us much more. I don’t mean I miss them less now. I miss them deeply and wish we could see them more and that our kids could be with them more. But I don’t feel the infrequency of our visits with our families in the same way now, because we do have a family here. There are no biological family members nearby, but this is what community means to me now: those who become our family in Christ. Community is less about familiar places and much more about those who walk beside us daily with whom we share a common bond—time spent living life together and striving to love one another as we should.
There are lilies just coming back to life in the flower bed by the porch that are a tangible reminder to us of the love of our community. In a sad time for us last year, our Sunday School class gave us the lily bulbs and money for a date and babysitting. They hurt with us. They celebrate with us. We do the same with them. We worship together, muddle through parenting and trying to follow Christ together, and share life together. Our kids play while we talk and I imagine them growing up together and reminding each other Who they belong to….taking care of each other.
My husband lived in the same town, same house, with mostly the same friends, from age three until he went to college. His parents still live in that same house and there is a wonderful feeling of familiarity and stability when we are there. His family has a great sense of the community they are part of, and I feel a part of it now, too. To be honest, a part of me hopes the same for our family. I would be content never to leave this town and our friends here. But even if we do find ourselves living in a new place with new surroundings and faces, I feel certain we will carry our need for community with us, and that those unfamiliar faces will soon grow into a new community; a new branch of the body of Christ for us to be a part of.
I’m certain we were created for these things—close relationships, friendship, bearing one another’s burdens, sharing the peaks, valleys, and long flat stretches of life together, and reaching out to those we don’t yet know. And I know that, whatever God has in store for our family, we will seek hard after those things wherever we find ourselves.
Every Wednesday, Texas Schmexas features a guest post about community in all of its myriad forms. If you’re willing to share a story or meditation (or complaint!) about community with the readers of Texas Schmexas, please let me know. Click on “Guest Posts” for more information.