The Gift of Community | It Starts With You

It starts early. In preschool on the playground. Around the rug at library story time. At the lunch table in elementary school. In high school, it’s the bleachers at the Friday night football game. In college, it’s the invite to the party or matching with the sorority you desperately want to be a part of. And in mamahood, it’s the circle of mom’s sipping on coffee together at drop off and pickup, laughing about their shared night out or their latest trip

YOU CAN SIT WITH ME.

We are made for community. For friendship. For kindred hearts that see and know us, whoever we are, right where we are.  We are made to be seen, to be heard, to be known and to be loved.  We exist to hold space for others to be seen, heard, known and loved.  When we are struggling with community and can’t find our place or our people →  it hurts. The heart knows what it feels like to be in that tender and holy space of belonging and is always aching to return to it.

As an adult, community has profoundly impacted my life. Because of Michael’s job, we’ve moved 5 times in the last 10 years. 5 different times, we’ve moved to somewhere new.  Somewhere I knew no one. No one. For a heart that thrives on community (newsflash, all of our hearts thrive on community) starting over again and again was and  is painful. It’s exhausting. And it’s really hard work. 

I recognize my need for community so deeply  that I throw myself into spaces and opportunities where I can begin the process of (re)building it. This last move though, this last one was different. I’ve never worked harder to find community than I have in Seattle. They talk about this thing here called The Seattle Freeze, and well, it’s not a joke. It’s truer than true and it made finding people here painfully hard. But, dang if I didn’t persist and after 2.5 years we’ve found it.

I could tell you about all of the spaces that I normally go looking for community and why that didn’t work this time. I could tell you all about how I gave up for a while and lived a bitter and lonely season. Instead though, I’d rather show you why pressing on to find community matters and how it has enriched my life.

Community looks like the friend who shows up at 10pm when you call her crying – no questions asked. She leaves her warm cozy home and her husband and sleeping newborn to show up for you in your time of need.

Community looks like friends who drive 2 hours with their minivan full of kids to bring you lunch in the hospital while your baby is recovering from surgery, just to remind you that you don’t have to do this alone.  

Community looks like a weekend full of meals prepared by others when you return home from a week long stay in the hospital. When you haven’t slept in 5 days, when you’ve kept vigil next to a tiny crib in a Children’s Hospital far from home, fresh hot dinner (and the bonus of no dinner dishes!) is such a gift.

Community looks like an old girlfriend picking you up from the airport at midnight, driving you to the hospital where your mother lies dying, booking you a hotel room so you could both sleep for a few hours before bringing you back to the hospital at 6am, and then being available for every brutal minute in between (for you and your sisters) over the next long, ugly, painful week.

Community looks like a text message that says “I just left you a care package on your porch but I didn’t knock so you didn’t have to get up out of your chair and your endless Netflix binge.” Community knew that at that moment, I didn’t want to see or talk to anyone, but I desperately needed to know that I was cared for and seen. And just like that, with a box of tea, a chocolate bar and some tulips, I knew I was. 

Community looks like a dear friend and her husband taking your 18 month old niece (whom they have never met) home to their house for the next 24 hours so you and your sisters could stay together at the hospital waiting for your mama to die.

Do you see it?

The common thread here, over and over again, is that community shows up.

Community sees you, in whatever space you find yourself – and meets you THERE. Community doesn’t require perfect people, beautiful spaces, or the ability to solve every problem, but rather a heart to see people, a desire to share life together, both good and bad, and a willingness to show up, even when it’s hard.

Today, I invite you to think about your community. How are y’all showing up for each other? How can you better love and serve your people? What more do you need from them? Do you need to invest more time and energy into creating a community that looks like the one above? Do you feel seen, heard, known, and loved?

 If not, you can create that space. It always starts with you, offering community to others. And slowly, as you tenderly cultivate that space, it’ll grow. 

xoxo,

Jenn

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