“So tell me about your friends at church.”
We were talking about community and what I wanted to study at L’Abri and this question should be pretty straightforward, but instead, I burst into tears. I couldn’t answer the question, not because my church isn’t full of hundreds of amazing people, but I realized I had really great community… like ten years ago. And then we started having babies and Sunday is not my best look and a huge percentage of the people I was doing life with moved away in the time since and I didn’t notice because I still talk to them all the time, they’re just not physically at church with me. Then a little bit after Lilly was born, we were in a place as a family where we could probably manage a small group again, and we found a really great one. Love them. But… that one disappeared, too, sort of suddenly, traumatically. I still love them, but the people we did tons of stuff with day in and day out are gone.
So I look around myself and realize I’ve basically spent a decade distracted from pursuing community, so I relied on the one I had which is no longer local. And I didn’t put it together until she asked the question.
Now I have community, even locally. There are people I call (text) when I’m in a pickle or just want to share something goofy my kids just did or need to vent. But that circle doesn’t intersect much with the church I attend.
I left for L’Abri fully intending to wrestle the ideas of community within the church to. the. ground. Instead, I read some poetry and some Flannery O’Conner and generally worked my way through a stack of books I’d been meaning to read and they happened to have on hand (thousands and thousands of books in that gorgeous library, so it’s not such a huge coincidence) and eventually found some applicable books, but nothing got wrestled to the ground. What I did learn from the experience was from the actual L’Abri community (a dozenish people with whom I worked, ate, and conversed for a week): I crave this. I’ve been missing it.
I flew last weekend to California and met most of the Kindred Mom team. We brainstormed and planned and worshiped and prayed. More than that, we laughed until our abs were sore. We shared stories of our actual lives and we shared actual life. There were two ladies there I’d met once or twice, three I’d never met before. One of those I’d only interacted with briefly on Voxer (voice messaging app) earlier in the month. But the community was real. The love was legit. Unified by a common Lord, shared purpose, and overlapping passions kickstarted our kinship in a way I don’t remember experiencing before.
So back in Fairbanks Sunday morning, I look around and see the people I do life with. I made most of them from scratch in my belly. This is not how community should be done, and the fault is largely mine.
I clearly can do community, I’m just not great at doing it Sunday morning. My homework, then, is twofold:
I need to press in. It’s on me to reach out, regardless of my state on Sundays. It’s time to be intentional about it. I’m not sure what this is going to look like, actually, but I’m about to find out.
I need to lower the bar. I’m an introvert, so I would rather go soul-deep than surface-level. Actually, I’d rather do a lot of things than go surface-level. Waterboarding comes to mind. But that’s not how everyone else functions (though some do!) and it’s definitely what’s expected culturally. Apparently if you dive too deep too fast sometimes you scare people. Who knew? Anyway. I need to suck it up and up my small-talk game rather than hoping to magically bump into others who really want to talk about deep stuff.
Mostly, there’s a lot of grace. I’ve been doing my level best here, and I need help from Jesus to press in and make connections when I’m with my church family, and I trust Him to do that.