We’re Better Together {Part one}

4th August 2015

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….

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

More on this later.

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.

ST

 

6 thoughts on “We’re Better Together {Part one}

  1. Courtney

    Well, naturally I relate to just about everything you said here (I’m ENFP, so a tad different, but very similar!). And you said it so eloquently! “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.” Beautiful!!

    I’ve been learning some similar lessons over the last few years. I want to make all of the connections with all of the women, and I’ve had to realize that there’s just not enough room in the average life for that much connection. That said, connecting is my gift and my lifeblood, so I’ve had to learn that it is okay and right for me to make as much room for it as possible.

    I’ve also learned first-hand how vital community is. When I went through months of post-partum depression, my closest friend did everything she could to support me through it. She would call and text me multiple times throughout the day, come over after work on nights when my husband was stuck at the hospital, and sometimes she would spend her lunch break sitting on my couch listening to me talk and cry. That depression was the hardest thing I have ever been through, and her love and patience during that time was one of the more profound communal experiences of my life.

    Can’t wait to read more of your thoughts!

    Reply
    1. Shaina Post author

      I am going to read about your personality as soon as I press the reply button–can’t wait!

      I am so thankful you had/have your best friend who is a living and breathing example of community to you. What a beautiful picture. My best friend walked through depression a few years back and I know I wasn’t the friend she needed. Thank Jesus for grace and for her forgiveness. I learned so much through that time and am happy to say our friendship is stronger than ever and so is her mental health. She is actually a mental health counselor now and she is a terrific one because of her experience.

      So grateful you read my crazy jumbled brain and that it makes sense to you 🙂

      BIG HUGS FROM FLORIDA TO ARKANSAS!

      Reply
  2. Alysa

    Gosh. I know we connected just a few weeks ago but I think we’re kindred spirits! 🙂 Love your perspective on community. I’m an INJF (introverted but very, very close to the extroverted side).

    I’ve been pondering these line from Jamie’s quote. “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. We have to choose these things (community/friendship/etc).” Trying to figure out how to navigate my constant choice for community when others live with over-packed schedules and make little room for other plans (or even spur of the moment meetings). Learning how to choose community when other’s don’t choose it as often.

    Reply
    1. Shaina Post author

      BOOM you hit the nail on the head for me. “Learning to choose community when other’s don’t choose it as often.” I seriously could write a whole post on that. That is genius and literally a thought straight from my brain and obviously yours too. Thank you for sharing that–I couldn’t find the right words but I think you did.

      P.s I think you’re great!

      Reply
  3. Sarah

    I love that, having to take the truth that we’re not alone and do something with it.
    Community can mean so many things, can’t it? Some that come to mind – the kindness of local shopkeepers, spending time with good friends, family, sharing each other’s posts online … The struggle for me is church, if I’m honest. I’m much more a one-to-one person, so I don’t feel very motivated to be around 150 people all at once, but if 5 of those people phoned me during the week to have a conversation, I think that would build me up so much more.
    Thanks for sharing on community and your struggles.

    Reply
    1. Married to Restoration Post author

      I loved reading your comment! I understand where your struggle with Church comes in and I definitely encourage you to read my follow up post http://www.marriedtorestoration.com/were-better-together-part-two/. I don’t feel that you need to connect with every single person that meets within your community. But I do feel that being present there and engaging the gift(s) God has given you is so important for you and for others. If that means you only connect with three people within your community that sharpen each other and encourage each other to go out into the world and love as Jesus does then that’s okay (my opinion of course). Thanks for reading 🙂

      Reply

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