Creating community for yourself

When you are a kid, community is your way of life.  You don’t know any different.   It is made up of your family and extended family, neighborhood kids, kids from school, athletic teams and maybe even church or religious organizations.  You don’t need to create community for yourself because your parents do it for you.

Between the ages of 18 and 30, I moved 14 times.  Sometimes within the same town, but when you’re moving all that stuff, (and my Dad will tell you, I have a lot of stuff,) it doesn’t really matter.  A move is a move.  Not only is a move exhausting, but so is everything else: finding a new doctor/dentist/optometrist, the nearest bank location/pharmacy/hardware store, a favorite sports bar/pizza joint/brunch place and heaven forbid if we can’t find Target.  {If I’m house hunting and can’t find a Target within 15 minutes, I’m not moving there.  Period.}

Image result for we have all known the long loneliness and we have found that the answer is community

All of those things are annoying in the beginning, but they don’t take too long to figure out.  The hardest part?  Community.  How do you find that?  How do you know where your kind of people are going to hang out?  Do you just start wandering up to strangers in the grocery store and ask if they have all 10 seasons of Friends too?  Tap the shoulder of the patron next to you at the new sushi place and ask if they want to be friends?  Hold up a sign at Target like a limo driver that says “friend needed”?  Ok, so these things are ridiculous.  But it is so much harder in real life to make these connections.

There are places that create community in themselves: work, church, your neighborhood.  But, if you are an introvert, those scenarios cause more anxiety than comfort when hoping to build a life with people.  You long for your friendships from childhood or college and can’t seem to get past the reminiscing stage.  The good ‘ole days.  And then, you might become a mom a realize how isolated you feel.

Well, truthfully, I am an extrovert and I got tired of it too.  My husband and I had just bought our (probably) forever home and I had yet to meet one neighbor three months in.  A new baby, a new home and a new life demanded a new community.

When I began to think about it, what I really longed for was easily found.  It would certainly take time to develop, but drawing it to myself wasn’t going to be too difficult.  I didn’t need anything new or to be different than I was.  I just needed to utilize three key things to help me find it: my home, my kitchen and me.

Image result for home quote, maya angelou

“Each of us longs for a place to belong, a connection that gives roots to our wandering lives.  Our hearts hunger for a community where we are intimate members, a sense of belonging to people who love us.  Our souls crave a purpose bigger than our jobs, a connection to a sense of meaning.  We yearn to know that our own stories have significance in the grander scheme of God’s megastory.  All of these may be found in home–a place to belong, a people to be a part of, and a purpose where God’ righteousness and design are celebrated and cherished in community every day.” (Sally Clarkson in The Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming)

Lucky as I was to travel all over and have friends and family in every corner of the country (and globe for that matter), I didn’t seem to live near them.  Yes, when I was single and still teaching, I did travel to visit them.  But now that I was committed to staying put, I needed to recreate that group of people in my neck of the woods.  I desperately wanted to feel like I belonged to this community and belong to the people who were in it.

When I came across this book, I was (and am) completely content living where we do.  We have lived here for over six years and for the first time since my childhood home, I feel rooted.  And yet, I still feel there is work to do.  So I’m using this book as a challenge to myself to deepen my sense of community in our area.

This will be the beginning of my Create Community Series.  Maybe you are a newlywed or transplant to a new town because of your job.  Maybe you have lived in the same town for years but still don’t know some of your neighbors.  Either way, the relationships that you have with the people you live among directly affect your happiness in that location.  Join me as we explore ways to create community right where you are.

Have you moved a lot or have you stayed in the same area for years?  What are your favorite things to tell people about your community?  Can you name a couple of things about your town that makes you proud?  Please share your thoughts in the comments below!