This post is part 2 in a series. Check out part 1 here.
I am fully aware of the variety of personalities out there–introverts, extroverts, talkers, thinkers, feelers. We are not a “one size fits all” species for sure. But I maintain that a healthy and active tribe is vital to each one of us. We need community.
Of course, our communities will all look different from each other. Some are large and loud, others made up of a few quiet individuals. Some are made up of brothers, sisters, cousins, grandparents–the Braverman clan come to life. Some are forged through bonds of friendship, shared experiences linking us together. Communities may form in a neighborhood over coffee and play dates, or across the world as people seek like-minded friends on Facebook and Instagram.
But big or small, local or global, we are all meant to live in community. “No man is an island,” declared John Donne. We are connected to each other, and we need to seek out our tribe and love them well.
We were made for this
From the very beginning, God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18 ESV). In order to fully understand the impact of this statement, we need to look at what had happened in the world thus far. God had just spent six days creating–light and darkness, heaven and earth, sun and moon, plants, animals, and man. (Don’t get picky with me on the order. You get the idea.) And at the end of each day, He declared his work to be good. Yet when He put Adam in the garden to work, God observed, “It is not good…” God knew Adam wasn’t meant to live alone. He has created people to need each other.
Over and over the Bible reminds us of our need for community. We are encouraged to bear each other’s burdens. We are exhorted to spur one another on to good deeds. We are called to comfort one another. We are created to need each other.
But why? What exactly does a tribe provide?
We need support
I told you earlier about the way we were supported when Joey was first diagnosed. Our friends rallied around us and gave us the strength to keep going when life felt overwhelming. Their support met a physical need, but also much more. The meals and household help were very much appreciated, but we could have managed if we’d had to do that ourselves.
But the true gift wasn’t in a casserole dish or a neatly folded shirt. What we needed was to know that we weren’t alone, that other people were there in it with us. Every time someone showed up at my door, I knew they had other ways they could be spending their time. Instead, they made the conscious choice to say, “I see you. I’m here. I can’t take this away, but I can keep you from going through it alone.”
We need accountability
Let’s be honest. We’ve all had times when we convinced ourselves a bad decision was a good one–a great one, even. We’ve all spouted off angrily or jumped in too quickly or quit too easily.
A solid community provides accountability. We need that friend who says, “I get it. I completely understand why you’re so upset. But let’s take a deep breath and think it through before you do anything you’ll regret.” Sometimes we just need someone to talk us off the ledge.
Then again, at times we take the leap anyway and are blindsided by the consequences. And we need that same friend to walk beside us, not excusing our mistakes, but encouraging us to learn and grow from them.
We need “me too”
But my favorite thing about community is the “me too.” As CS Lewis said, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought that no one but myself…’”
I joined a MOPS group when Grace, my oldest, was just six months old. I was thankful for the chance to come together with other moms, but I still felt a little separate, a little outside of the group. One Tuesday morning, I arrived early, and the group coordinator was the only other person there. After a tough morning, I decided to timidly reach out, “You know, I didn’t realize I could get angry at someone so small.” And I waited for this woman to look at me like I had three heads.
Instead, she nodded emphatically, her eyes wide. “Yes! You are definitely not alone in that! We’ve actually had a speaker come in to talk about anger before, but it’s been a while. That would be a great topic to cover.” You guys, I wasn’t alone! I offered up a part of myself, and I got a helping hand! Immediately, MOPS began to feel more and more like home. Before long, I was a member of the leadership team. MOPS (and specifically, the women there) saved me during the years when felt like I was drowning in motherhood. A simple “me too” creates a powerful bond.
A healthy community, whether big or small, is vital to each one of us. Some of you are nodding your heads, thankful for your tribe. Others might feel discouraged and lonely. I know that I need a community. I just can’t seem to figure out how to find one! So let’s talk more about how to find your tribe… next time.