“He works on us in all sorts of ways. But above all, he works on us through each other. Men are mirrors, or “carriers” of Christ to other men. Usually it is those who know Him that bring Him to others. That is why the church, the whole body of Christians showing Him to one another, is so important… God became man for no other purpose. It is even doubtful, you know, whether the whole universe was created for any other purpose.”
~ C. S. Lewis [emphasis mine]
I’ve been wrestling with writing about this for a little while now, and I’m not even really sure why. But I figured writing might help me process how I’m feeling. It usually does. I’ve been without a genuine community for TOO long. At least, in the truest sense of the word. And I think the only reason I’m missing it is because I’ve experienced real, true, “authentic” community before (thank you, NPCC). Don’t get me wrong… I am, of course, in relationship. And I’m so very grateful for the relationships I do have. I adore the relationship I have with my husband. And I guess we even have our own little community going… Brock knows me like no one else. And I love that. I even love when he calls me on the carpet about things when I’m wrong or when I lose my perspective (though it may be tough to take in the moment). But I also desire the interaction with a larger group of people who know me. Well, who know BOTH of us. Who look for us at church, who call us when they want to go out, who miss us when we haven’t been around. A group of people who know they can depend on us, and who we can also depend on.
There was a time when I was so steeped in and surrounded by community that I’d had enough and needed to get out. I was serving in so many ways and was being bombarded by small groups–members, leaders, directors, coaches, students, etc.–that I thought community was the last thing I wanted! So, after being relatively well-known in a large church in Atlanta, GA, I moved to a small-ish church in Gainesville, FL and LOVED the anonymity. I still had community with my friends at UF, but not in the same way and I was perfectly content for the 2 years I was in graduate school. It was actually kind of nice to just let myself be known to some on a very surface level after feeling like so many people knew every little thing about me.
There’s a part of me that would settle for just a group of girlfriends… I find myself looking at groups of women as I walk through the mall, or LOFT, or Sephora, and thinking, “I could be your friend! I’d make a great friend!” I miss having girlfriends to go out with, to laugh with, and to just rehash my day with. Moving to a new city pretty much sucks, in that sense! In having to start all over at building your group of friends.
It’s kinda funny. When I was single, I thought the only thing I wanted was to be married! Now I’m married, and while I love it SOOO much, I SOOO desire to have a good group of friends. I happened to mention this to one of my girlfriends the other day and she laughed at me. She’s single and she told me that was ridiculous; that I should be content with my husband and that “once you’re married you don’t need girlfriends anymore”… Uh, seriously??? I think in some ways, we married women may need each other MORE!!
I love the quote at the top of this post… I pretty much love anything by Lewis. But when it comes to community-it’s necessity-and to intentionally seeking out others with whom to “do” life with, it’s hard to argue with him. I want to be in a community where people are showing me Christ in all things. God has called us to a continuous lifestyle of worship and relationship with Himself, which is cultivated and nurtured within the body of Christ. The Church is a people. It is a gift of God. It is where we encourage one another to be worshipers of our Lord. It is where the body becomes the body-loving, caring and challenging one another. As well, it is within community that we engage culture and infuse Jesus into the nooks and crannies of our city. We were created to worship Jesus in community by a Creator who Himself exists in community! I have had the privilege of experiencing this deep community before, and I SO long for it again. And while there’s something in me that’s missing it, there’s also something in me that seems to say, “It’s just around the corner, you don’t have to wait too much longer!”
We’ve found a fantastic church that we want to settle in at, and I know that once the summer is over and folks slow down a bit we’ll start running into some of the same people again and again. Classes will start back up and so will small groups. And I know therein I will find what I’m looking for. I think, actually, I’ll find both a great group of girlfriends and a solid group of people with whom Brock and I can build our own little community. I just need to remember that we’ve only been here for 6 months, and it does take some time.