There are so many great articles and books written about community. What community is, how you get community, how it may look different among different people, and the necessary parts of community. That being the case, there isn't much I can say that will add to the conversation. For the sake of clarification and completion however, I will say a little:
In the last post I wrote about why I came to cherish community, and how I came to value and prioritize it. What is the purpose of community, though? What was the point of cherishing it over my "free," adventurous life?
The answer is quite simple, so basic it's almost funny. I came to cherish community because I needed it. I liked my adventure--I even loved it the way others love their alone time or their careers. But the truth is, we don't need them and so they must be in their proper places in our lives. It's impossible to do life alone and regardless of whether we want to or not--we need people, AND people need us. We don't just need one another to keep the world going, but we need each other in deep and intimate ways for life to have meaning.
I've had shallow friendships and shallow community. Remember high school? Ughh, no thanks. The constant stress to impress other people, to look smart (or dumb), cool, athletic, rich, or whatever other attribute would help in daily survival. Humans need depth in relationships with other people--it gives meaning to life. Therefore, humans need community. Why else would gangs exist or societies cling to evil regimes? I'm no expert on the subject, but they exist, at least in part, because it's better to be a part of anything than be alone. It gives someone a purpose to be a part of something bigger than themselves, even if it's morally disturbing.
I've also had deep friendships and deep community with foundations that were stronger than common sports interests, living in the same town or going to the same school. I've had friendships built with mutual intentionality. ((Ugh, I know...the buzz word of the decade.)) But, I said it and it is invaluable, so there you go.
I won't go any further with that because, as I previously mentioned, there are countless resources to read about community and I'm sure "intentionality" is mentioned in most. Here's what I am going to say: community requires more than a common interest, more than watching a weekly TV series, more than being someone's drinking body, and more than living near one another (though this one is necessary). All of these things are convenient, and community isn't an "easy-peasy," convenient part of life. As I mentioned in Community | Part I, community requires sacrifice.
Community requires us to sacrifice the more convenient and selfish options in our lives and it involves every aspect of our lives: the happy things and the tragic things. It requires our vulnerability. A person knows they have a strong community when life gets really great and when life gets really.freaking.hard. My husband and I knew we didn't have a strong community in our first couple years of marriage. We had a lot of really awesome friends, but they were all over and therefore, we were all over, and we were lonely. When I was living a life of adventure, I was also lonely. I had fun, and even good friendships everywhere I went, but I didn't have community. I didn't have consistent depth because I didn't value it; I didn't know I needed it.
Then I worked for it, and I got it. Life was no longer a constant high of adventure, fun, and traveling, but more importantly it wasn't lonely anymore either. There was consistent depth in my life, with people to see more than some fun nights followed by me saying "goodbye" again. It was people seeing my hard days, my tears, frustrations, and my anger. I couldn't hide these realities anymore because there's nowhere else to go when a committed community is involved. It was a group who could love me as a whole human because I became present long enough for them to see my flaws and help me to acknowledge them, and move beyond them. It gave people the opportunity to follow-up when things were difficult and to truly celebrate my accomplishments.
Whether or not we know it or acknowledge it, for good or for evil, we all desire community because we need it--and it needs us.
((Is there a part of your community you couldn't imagine living without?? I'd love to hear about it in the comments section))
Featured Coffee Shop | Perch, Oakland, CA | Perch has a spot for everyone: Comfy chairs for leisurely hangouts, benches and tables for getting work done, and a children's space for those with littles...A well-rounded place for building community.
Perch | 440 Grand Ave | Oakland