My friend Laura is in the process of relocating her family to a new city. She has invested a lot in our little town over the years, having gone to college here, begun her career and her family here, settled into a church home here. As they transition to a new place, a new home, and a new community of friends and loved ones, Laura’s been musing about community and what it means to embark on this journey. She shares some of her thoughts for this week’s Guest Post Wednesday.
Community: (n.) The place where people live, work, and play.
As a first grade teacher, I taught that definition during the first few weeks of school for seven years. More importantly, I have lived with, worked with, and had a wonderful time making friends with the people of Georgetown.
At first, I was a stranger in a town where I lived and worked. The friendships made came through becoming involved in church and in the lives of the people I met. Sunday school conversations turned into dinner and “Dirty Santa” games. Colleagues became best friends who shared in the joys and sorrows of life. Over time, a town changed into a home where friends became family.
When I think about what really makes a community “home,” I realize the significance of faith. My faith brought me to a church where I have been blessed to be a part of a greater community. Many of the people with whom I have worked attend the same congregation. Therefore, we have had an instant connection during conversations. Speaking the same language, caring about the same social justice issues, even showing up at the same time for the library’s story hour, all work together to pave the way for other meaningful relationships. A familiar face in a strange crowd brings peace of mind to us all… God paves the way.
Really, friends turn into family when doors to homes and hearts are opened: being present at graduations, weddings, the birth of children, holding hands when the death of a loved one turns life upside down, or sharing the news that it’s time to begin the next chapter of life’s journey and move into a new community.
Following God’s plan was never promised to be an easy journey. But I remember coming to Georgetown when it was new and strange, yet feeling at home and at peace. So, maybe when God can go before you and open hearts and lives to warmly receive you upon arrival, the stage is set to give the feeling that you are cared for. Knowing that the path is prepared, the tables are set, and arms are outstretched to meet us when we come into their presence makes us instantly feel as though we belong.
Maybe a community is where people live, work, and play, but God’s community is where people feel at peace and await the stranger’s path to cross their own so that relationships can be formed.
Maybe we are willing to embark on new journeys because we know that God is preparing others for our arrival.
At least I hope so.
So, as my family prepares to journey from one beautiful community to another, may the difficult goodbyes be countered by many warm and welcoming hellos.