As an adult, it seems common to desire, yet struggle to find community. Women on the Influence Network, and even recent news articles, have described this yearning for kindred spirits. We were designed for relationships – but away from a college campus, in our fenced-in neighborhoods, and cubicles – they are difficult to develop. From the outside, groups seem tight knit and individuals appear too busy to need any more distraction from their hectic lives.
As newlyweds, my husband and I moved away from family + friends. Careers were consuming and our spare moments were spent soaking in brand-new marriage life. We ended up having surface-level relationships with colleagues, combined with long-distance friendships with those we held most dear. It was an odd juxtaposition.
We recently celebrated six years of marriage and six years of living in one spot. I’m glad to say that we find ourselves surrounded by the blessing of truly dear friends. These friendships are the sort that slowly creep up on you. They didn’t form overnight, like some do when you are younger. Instead they are the sort with deep roots and steady growth.
Since this blog is nothing if not a space for reflection, here are a few ways this community has developed around us.
- We kept up with old, faraway friends. They know our background. There is incredible strength in a friendship where your history, preferences and quirks are known. That is hard to replicate when you start fresh, and it is hard to sustain when distance gets in the way. We made it a priority to connect and reach out with 3-4 dear, old friends, who have always been in our corner. We call them. We pursue them. We remember birthdays. We travel to see them.
- We joined a small group at church. They know our present. These are our real-life people. We randomly emailed a group through our church website after buying our house. (We should have done this sooner!) To be honest – the first few weeks were awkward and uncomfortable. But we committed to investing in these people and being present and vulnerable. We go on double dates with them. We pray for them. We bring them meals when they have babies. We babysit each other’s kids.
- I use technology to connect. These women understand what makes my heart tick. When I first blogged – over 4 years ago now – it was pretty self-centered. My thoughts. My site. Comments for me. Thankfully, things are different now. First, I meet biweekly with a group of young moms to chat about life and business. (Lately, it’s been mostly about life and some of the cutest brand-new babies.) Second, I work with a group of women who I deeply admire and respect and love. In both groups: We dream. We text. We pray for each other. We create and work. We celebrate together.
Wherever you are – near or far from your comfort zone – my hope is that you can see that community isn’t closed off to you. Sometimes you just have to commit. Maybe you need to pursue God’s mission and trust Him that community will follow. Believe that in today’s busy culture – offering time, a steady shoulder to lean on, and a listening ear will be attractive. Perhaps people simply want us to be authentic and available. And give it time. One last thought I’ve been pondering lately: What would community look like if every person was as engaged as you?