When I decided to invite others to join me in transforming Texas Schmexas into a community blog, I began by brainstorming a list of friends I thought would be great contributors. I thought about my childhood friends who are in Pennsylvania and Tennessee, my college friends who are littered around the country, and my Texas friends, most of whom weren’t Texan either but only sojourning briefly in the land of Dairy Queen and ten-gallon hats while they or their spouses got graduate degrees.
The people I decided to ask to participate, I thought, were already living lives of intentional community, or so it seemed to me from the outside. Some were moms cultivating communities within their homes, some were even moms of multiples, which requires a dependence on community I haven’t known. Some had lived in community with others, some lived alone. Some had moved around a lot, some had stayed put. Some were married to professors or pastors, which positioned them in unique places within a community. Some were themselves pastors. Some were parents of teenagers, some of newborns.
When I asked each one to participate, I outlined why I thought she’d be great at it.
I knew, given the group, that most would say “no” to the invitation. Most would be too busy and would tell me so.
Except they didn’t.
Almost nobody said “no” because they were too busy. (Maybe two out of, say, two dozen.)
Almost everybody who said “no” had another reason, the same reason, for declining–
They didn't really like building community, they told me, and they didn't think they were good at it. They didn't really like doing the work of community because, in their words, they would rather be alone than be with people. They weren't the right people for the job. They had no business writing about community.
I appreciated the honesty. And I get it.
I really get it.
I, too, am one of those people.
Contrary to popular opinion, I am an introvert. I would much rather be alone, at home, taking a bath, than going to a party; much rather be alone, going to bed at 9 pm than having people over to my house; much rather be drinking tea and reading a novel than opening my home and inviting someone in.
It’s true. I don’t really like people.
If Texas Schmexas gives off the vibe that I enjoy this community stuff, that I find it easy, that anybody finds it easy, well, then I should just close up shop. Because it’s not.
Community is really, really hard.
Most days, quite honestly, I find it frustrating. Most days, it reminds me just how selfish I am. (The quickest way to learn how selfish you are is to invite people to whom you are not related into your home to live with you, to cook with your pans, to eat your food, to use your stuff.) Most days, I would rather order my books from Amazon than run into a bookstore. Most days, I would rather run through the drive-thru window at Starbucks than unlatch my child from her carseat. Most days, I would rather watch an old episode of Grey’s Anatomy than write a blog post.
It is always easier not to do community, than to do it, to work at it, to be it.
But we do it anyway, and it’s important. It’s what we were created to be. It’s part of the image of God in us, the imago dei, which is maybe why it’s extra hard.
God is loving; love is hard.
God is patient; patience is hard.
God is gracious; extending grace is hard.
God is incarnate; being the hands and feet of Jesus in the world is hard.
God is community; inviting people, sharing life with them, knowing them, paying attention–it’s all hard.
So, my friends, I hope you do it anyway. I know most people don’t want to write about it, and that’s okay.
Most days, I don’t either.