Earlier this year my friends and I got really obsessed with the Myers Briggs personality test. I am an ESFJ for those who care and are into that sort of thing. It was exciting to learn about myself (and yes I did cry when I read mine because I felt so understood) but it was just as exciting to learn about others. The test says that ESFJ’s love to encourage, lift and strengthen others. I couldn’t agree more–it’s a natural thing for my personality type to want to surround myself with people on the daily. I am a person who desires, needs and lives for community. It’s always at the forefront of my mind and my heart values nothing more than genuine connection with my people and even with strangers (who don’t stay strangers for long). Over the past year, really since I have been married, I have been learning so much about community and expectations. Here is what I am currently tossing around in my head….
As I have passed the college phase of life and settled into the quarter-life crisis, post college, who am I and what am I doing with my future stage, I have had to dig deeper to define what community truly means and what role it plays in my everyday life. We are all busy (I hate that word) with responsibilities and things we are held accountable to that at the end of the day community can get confusing and messy and even forgotten about.
But the truth is all the things we fill our days with, while they may be important, are not as valuable as true, raw and honest connection. I think most of us could agree that we need each other. We’re better together.
But how do we juggle so many different social circles and people?!? Coworkers, family, neighbors, church groups, classmates, childhood friends, long distance relationships…the list goes on and on.
I wish (that might be too strong of a word) that we could all clone ourselves so we could spend equal quality time with all the people we want to. But we just can’t. (and I struggle to accept that but I am getting better!)
We are human and this is a big limitation. I can’t be here and there and everywhere. So what do I do? How do I choose who gets access to my time? Which group do I meet up with—the young marrieds, the college and youth, my neighbors, the elders so I can be mentored, friends from other church communities, my close friends, friends I am trying to get to know better, friends I haven’t seen in forever….you get the point. They all give an open invitation and I want to say yes to every single one of them. Not to mention I need to make time to engage in my marriage and one day if/when I have children that will be a whole beast of its own.
I am still learning how to choose my Best Yes and while I don’t have all the answers (not even close) I feel the Spirit teaching me about His people and which seasons of my life will include more of one thing (or person) and less of another. P.s This is so hard for an extroverted people person like me who wants to know everyone at their deepest level. Sigh.
God is teaching me though, and He is showing me to treat each interaction, whether it be 5 minutes or 3 hours, with purpose. I want to make my time with others meaningful (even if that includes just laughing together and being silly). Because truthfully we may only get 10 minutes to catch up with a good friend so instead of being disappointed I am asking God to use those 10 minutes and make them quality. Just as Jesus took the 5 loaves of bread and turned them in to 5,000, He can turn a small and short visit into something that sustains and feeds our hearts. For me, community is taking a different shape than just a group that meets every other week. It’s becoming my everyday interactions. It’s not seeing someone for a few weeks but praying for them anyway and keeping them close to my heart. It’s knowing, without a doubt, that we are walking the road together. It’s knowing we are not alone.
I read my new friend Alysa’s blog yesterday and was so excited to see that her words were resounding with mine as I have been writing this post off and on for a few days now. I wanted to share a quote from her post.
“The thing about the idea that you’re not alone is that it doesn’t do us much good if it’s just an idea. We have to do something with it. It’s like having no money and then someone hands you a check. You have to take it to the bank. You have to do something with it. Maybe hope is like that. Maybe community is like that. Maybe relationships are like that. We have to choose these things. We have to say they’re real and possible and important. We have to say some things out loud. We have to choose to believe our story matters, along with the stories of the people we love.” – Jamie Tworkowski
I have only scratched the surface on the topic of community. What it means to carry each other’s burdens. To break bread together. To sharpen each other. To be an encouraging voice. To be a light during a dark time. To be connected deeply by a God who holds us for eternity.
I am so interested to know what community means to you and what it looks like in your life. Tell me some of your struggles and what God is teaching you about His people.
P.s You should consider joining the #itssimplytuesday Instagram community. It’s such an inspiring feed that celebrates the small moments of life and connects us together as we embrace our smallness in Christ.