“It’s better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth. And if one falls down, the other helps, But if there’s no one to help, tough! By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend, you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.” Ecclesiastes 4:9,10,12 [MSG]
Learning to Connect the Dots
At some point in life, we reach a definitive conclusion about where we fit in society and how we want to interact. I’ve come to find that if you’re not intentional about the good, what’s bad will often steal the show. In this particular instance, I’ve come to discover many things can transpire along our personal journeys that as a result cause us to feel we don’t need people. That statement however simply isn’t true. #community and having a sense of belonging is the premise of this post.
Uncovering lost value in #community
These days I typically have no issue in confessing my comfort as a loner. Truth be told it’s often easier to deal with myself than to make an effort in embracing people and #community. In today’s world, we can access what we want without making a true human connection. And the connections we do decide to make can easily be controlled if that’s our desire. EXAMPLE: I can be nosey when I want, share what I want, with who I want and it’s all based on my discretion. Our narcissistic culture has made becoming somebody by any means necessary the goal while ex’ing out the power of #community. It’s honestly not hard to set goals, fix your focus and go for broke, then throw away who doesn’t matter after you get what you want. You can be surrounded by people, networking, and gaining but unattached and unbothered. Daily the norm communicated appears to be that man lives for whatever makes him look and feel good (you fill in the blank) but if you ask about the importance of #community you’re likely to get fireworks in protest or hear the sound of crickets. Just glance back to November 8th 2016 for a timely example.
I was one who for awhile didn’t see the value of #community. It can be an unattractive concept to a person whose been burned by it; reached for it, tried to give it hugs, but it bit you more than once and left bruises. Whether it’s family, an institution or friendship circle, when you don’t know how to deal with a major life blow the easiest and most comfortable thing to do is shut the world out and place a ‘get lost’ sign on your door.
A life void of people however proves in the end to be a pretty empty existence. We were created to be a part of something bigger than ourselves [Matt 22:37 – 40] and we discover this through #community. The world tastes different when we have a complete understanding of the role we play in it [Romans 12:3-13] and are able to work in our role to share moments and leave deposits [Luke 22:32].
#community can damage and it can heal
I’m convinced a lot of things can teach us about #community and God intended for it to be that way. Even in the creation story, making man was not a solo effort; we were shaped by a #community [Gen 1:26]. Family, friendships, religion, education and the workplace are but a few of the major groups that contribute to the identity of a #community. Being stung by any of these institutions can leave a bitter taste but not all of the hurtful things are intentional. Even when truth reveals the opposite, a relationship with the Lord allows for us to see and understand how #community works and what it needs to be healthy and stop the perpetual cycles of hurt. We can exercise the power of choice; choosing daily to claim strength instead of offense and process events through eyes of forgiveness.
In today’s modern #community setup, life’s story for many people resembles a broken record. Abusive homes, societal rejection, religious condemnation, and educational failure can all bring hurt from the very things we’re supposed to benefit from and bring value to. Mature believers can attest that having Christ-like standards can cause the #community to attack and reject you [John 15:19; John 17:14-16]. When we connect with the news and other communication resources, it’s evident even for particular racial and socio-economical groups that just to be treated as a human being has become a rare luxury. #community has always confronted man with delicate and personal life experiences that don’t feel good. The BEST way to heal and grow in #community is not to avoid it but to engage.
Walls of separation we build in #community are often spurred by emotions. It’s SO easy to become irate, scared, depressed or envious because of something in #community that rubbed you the wrong way. My new practice these days is to hold a magnifier against my emotions and be honest about my reasoning. Processing experiences and emotions with the mind of Christ always leads me to conclude that I am no good to society and the world around me with a bitter heart and tunnel vision [2 Cor 10:5-7; Phil 2:5; Romans 12:2].
Being cut off from #community is like pronouncing a slow and cruel death sentence because you are the only one experiencing the hurt and all you will produce is the same. What I’ve been fortunate to learn from my own story is that choosing to be healed from #community inspires you to put good back into it instead of the negativity that affected you [Romans 12:2; Eph 4:22-24; 1 Thess 4:1].
Creating change through #community
What tends to break our communities and stir hate rather than spark unity is when we grade people against our personal measuring stick instead of considering ourselves first in the bigger scheme of things [Matt 7:3-5]. If the only person I can control is me, then my contribution to #community will purpose to be one that challenges anything that has the potential to break it, even if I am that hinderance. We can positively affect our #communities to change when we’re constantly working on ourselves and the contributions we’re making towards change.
Placement in #community
No matter our race, class or position we all should feel a sense of belonging and be confident in where we fit in #community. Not only should we be confident about our place but we should know and understand the role of others [1 Thess 5:12] and not be afraid to engage each other in kindness for the sake of #community. Fear has been one of the major causes for #community break down. It breeds hatred and stirs violence. It’s not a requirement that we all see eye to eye, but the simple act of kindness and consideration will always go a long way. When everyone works on knowing and protecting their worth, and esteems not to tarnish the identity of another the #community becomes valuable.
If more people concentrate on helpful and encouraging things we can give healthy and encouraging things back to our #community [Phil 4:8]. Healthy communities have well-nourished people. It can be tough and scary to put yourself out there with the potential of someone or something hurting you. But when we give to each other and take care of our self, #community becomes a productive human experience. Eating better, loving freely, treating each other with respect and sharing is all a part of it. Not to mention it honors God. [Col 3:17; 1 Cor 10:31; 1 Cor 6:20; Prov 3:9].
If I’m constantly in a posture of comparing, complaining, jealousy, and competition my #community will not improve for the betterment of all. But if I spend time affirming who I am and purpose to inspire another, then what I have for my #community has to spark something wonderful. The only thing selfish and exclusive communities produce are poverty lines, deprivation, suffering and contention.
#community is not a box!
I believe it’s extremely important to understand that in redefining #community we cannot ostracize and alienate ourselves or those who ‘do not fit’. When we do that our #community resembles a clique and people are left feeling void of purpose in who they’re supposed to be. A #community also doesn’t manipulate identity but finds use for what it has to work with. When executed ineffectively I’ve seen how this concept has a two-fold effect where the minority feel estranged and the majority miss out on their abilities. In addition, a potential domino effect can be triggered where ‘outsiders’ beget other ‘outsiders’ not embracing those who are ‘normal’. Tunnel vision results in quick offenses and less opportunities to learn and grow from each other. Effective communities are aware and not oblivious.
So …. I’m pledging to continue maturing and being a positive contributor to #community. It’s more than just what’s on my local street. It encompasses everything that exists outside my front door. We kill the value of #community when we abuse ourselves and each other. We all have something to offer that can make the world a better place.
IN MY NEXT BLOG . . .
I’m learning not to run from love – the journey continues . . .