Sunday, November 14, 2010

Community

No, not the TV show—although Chris and I do enjoy watching that one.  The concept of belonging to or having relationship with a group of people is what I want to talk about tonight. Chris and I heard someone mention that the most common unmet need in San Francisco (and possibly globally) is community. In a place were there are roughly a million people I wonder how can that be true?

And yet, it is true for me. I'm not saying I'm completely alone and have nowhere to belong. I belong to a wonderful church and small group, which does offer a great source of community and relationship.  I also have some really great colleagues at work. But I want more. Not really more friends, but deeper relationships. Granted, I've only been in the city for five months and it's bound to take a lot longer than that to build solid friendships. All I'm saying is that I understand the longing for community.

I wonder what people who don't go to church do to find friends. In all honesty, I don't even know where to look other than church. Do I join a gym or take a class to find people who might have one shared interest with me? Do I go to the bar? Do I sit down next to a complete stranger at a coffee shop and start making conversation? Seriously, how do people get connected with others and experience real community in real life?

I have been in a "Christian-bubble" for so long, I don't even know how to make friends normally. Ugh! In High School, I didn't really have a choice, there were 17 students, so naturally they were my friends. Our town was small, so you just did what everyone else did and you had instant community. It was easy in college—people had similar classes and majors so finding common interests was a no-brainer. You also had organizations and clubs at your finger tips so finding a group to belong to was stress free. And the cafeteria was perfect for meeting people! Most of my friends from college were actually strangers to me until I sat down next to them for lunch (a few I seen previously from a class or something).

So what makes "real life" so much different—so much harder? I wonder if as we've gotten older, we're more reserved in what we share with others, which leaves our conversations lacking any real meaning.  I wonder if we stop making time for other people because there is just too much going on in "my world" right now. Or, maybe we're fearful of someone really knowing us?!? The surface looks good and clean but digging deeper reveals hurts, weaknesses, regrets, and sins making us unlovable and rejected.

What is it that makes people bond and become friends?

These are just my thoughts from today—spurred on by an idea of building a different and stronger community. I'd love to hear your thoughts about what community is and how you find or create it! 

5 comments:

srbabiak said...

I totally agree with you Emily... my problem is the only friends I have are from middle school and high school years. It is interesting because with each one (they are my 3 best friends) we went through a few years in college where we lost contact and God brought them back into my life. They are not Christians and I have grown stronger in my faith, so I pray for more Christian friends. Like you said though, as you grow older you seem a bit more guarded in deepening friendships. I have lived in Georgetown for almost 2 years and have met wonderful people at church and who I work with, but none of them I would call good friends, mostly acquaintances. Since developing a relationship and community with people take time... I am taking my time. God will bring people into my life... but when the time is right. My pastor was actually telling the congregations yesterday (we are studying Colossians) that you cannot have community without conflict - even though we may not see eye to eye over some matters, we are fighting a Spiritual War, not the Wars of this World.

Sharon M said...

Emily - yes, the beginning is hard. When we first moved to JO, we only knew one other family there, and that was just as an acquaintance. I think we were there for a year before we even had good, close relationships WITH OTHER EX-PATS (I'm not even talking about the locals, but that was more of a language issue). It was a very lonely year, in a lot of ways. I think many of us were eager to form friendships, but it took time, even in a small community like ours, to build those up. For me, it's always been hard to initiate vulnerability.

One thing I've learned from living abroad is not to be too eager to stay within my own demographic (that could apply to nationality, age, etc.). The Lord has brought me friends that are WAY older than I am, and I'm so blessed by their wisdom and (I hope) they are blessed in some ways by my relative youth and vigor :-) Pray that the Lord will bring someone your way, and that you'll be able to discern that when she comes along. He is always eager for us to grow in Him and is aware how much we need others to be a part of that growth!

Sheryl B said...

This is something our women's committee is struggling over. How to be open and transparent, how to encourage others to be open and take time to be together to actually build the friendship and deepen it. Our world screams this and that at us. We are in constant contact through technology, yet we are lonely. Hmmm....there has to be a better way.

Chris said...

This is why S&G wrote, "I am a rock. I am an island. And a rock feels no pain. And an island doesn't cry." Yeah, forming real friendships is often painful and hard.

I think this might be different for guys and girls. I have never been too content with shallow friendships, and I find most spiritual guys I know are the same. It might be that men implicitly trust one another more to keep secrets and not to judge. Maybe not. Just a thought.

Emily said...

Thanks for your thoughts Babiaks! I think I need to let time work things out -- I can't rush this or make people be more open than they want to be. And I'm praying more for the relationships I have too. Sisters, thanks for sharing your experience with moving and reminding me that it takes time to really get to know people.