Did your neighborhood have block parties or cookouts when you were growing up? Did you have a special place where everybody knew you and made you feel completely at home – like a community center?
Something Eric has tried to drill into me since we were first married is the importance of community. As one who tends to stay tucked inside her home, I know I need to step out more and increase my circle. As I mentioned Monday, we do have a great church, so, in my mind, that is my community; but, I should be doing more to create an atmosphere of community in my neighborhood.
Across the street, we have a large family with several great children. To my left, we have an older couple we enjoy talking to when we get the chance – we bought our house from them. To our right, we have another older couple who has been great to us over the years. The husband helps us with our landscaping, and Eric helps them with their computer. I could do more to try to bring everybody together.
This Post is Dedicated to the Woman in the Mirror
Perhaps this post is as much for me as it is for all you lovely readers out there. How many of you are familiar with the television show, The Middle? One detail about that show which sticks out to me is their community get-togethers. The men compete in an annual lawnmower race. The women set up food and talk while the kids play.
I remember one episode where the Hecks had become so overwhelmed by the disarray of their home that they contemplated moving into an apartment. Their appliances were constantly broken, their back door would not open, and they had a leaky roof. Just when they thought they had decided to move, the neighborhood men came by to help the father patch his roof. While the men worked, the women gathered food for an impromptu picnic. It was at that point they realized what they would be giving up if they moved – a wonderful community. On one hand, that scene makes me jealous, and on another hand, I think, “I have done nothing to create such an atmosphere! Why am I jealous?!”
Communities are not only in neighborhoods. School can be a community. Work can be a community. Church is most definitely a community. Clubs, extracurricular activities, and even a regular group at Starbucks can be a community.
I briefly babysat for a lady whose family goes to Starbucks every Friday night. They kept running into the same people on their coffee runs until a Friday night Starbucks community was born.
Why Should We Bother Fostering Community Relationships?
Perhaps to convince me as much as anyone else, here are five reasons being a part of a community can bless us and our relationships:
- We need to give support and be supported. What if we have an emergency and need someone to watch our dog at the last minute? What if we have a financial crisis and cannot afford to make a major repair on our home? Communities have a way of rallying around each other when support is needed. And, being a part of a community gives us the opportunity to pour into others’ lives.
- We need to feel a sense of belonging. It is such a blessing to belong somewhere. How wonderful to walk in the door and know you are home. We were built to need other people. No man is an island!
- Communities offer us a chance to emerge from our cocoon. We can get cozy in our own little world and not have any idea what is going on around us. I remember finding out my neighbor had undergone major surgery, and I knew nothing about it. Had I made a greater effort to know this person, she would have surely told me beforehand! Even if it is comfortable for a while, we eventually become depressed when we stay curled up inside our dens.
- Established communities will be a blessing to our children. As a child, I was blessed by my parents’ communities. My mom was a teacher, so I was a part of the Brinson Memorial Elementary community. I grew up in our church, so I was a part of the New Bern Church of God community. When I was almost 8, we moved to Cypress Shores, and I was able to be a part of a small neighborhood community there. I was even a part of my grandparents’ communities. I felt very wanted, and that was due in large part to the number of people I knew through my parents and extended family. I am not sure who I would be today if it had not been for those communities.
- You and your spouse will get tired of each other. ~smile~ Though you will love your spouse, he or she will not be enough to satisfy your social circle. Everybody needs relationships outside of the family and expecting your spouse to be your whole community is just too heavy of a burden. Communities are wonderful places to meet, mingle, and enjoy other people. Then you can go home revived and ready to tackle another week with your spouse.
Eric has recently become a part of a community which has made his life far richer. He loves to play strategy games, and I simply do not. A couple from our church graciously opens their home once a week for a game night. Since Eric started going, he has become a much happier person. I am so thankful he can have this need fulfilled in his life!
What is your take on the concept of community? Do you find it to be important? Have you been blessed by the communities in your life? How much effort are you and your significant other willing to put into building community relationships?
Just as a good church will be a blessing to your relationship, the time you spend investing in communities will bless you as well.
I will come out from behind my rock if you will. ~smile~
Are you and your significant other involved in any special communities currently?