The Joy Of Community
It was a typical Friday night in high school. I received a text from friends asking if I wanted to see the new movie and have a sleepover. I lied. I said I couldn’t go because my mom needed me to stay home to watch my younger brother and sister. The truth was I didn’t want to listen to who was dating who, who was mad at who, and who in pop culture was THE big deal that week.
I preferred hanging out with my dog over having friends because I didn’t have to deal with all of the baggage that comes with relationships. That changed on a Monday night in college.
I showed up to a small group and played an unconventional game of Twister. Each of the circles on this mat was covered with wet paint of the corresponding color. As those of us playing took our turns, we each had to put our hands and feet on the circles of wet paint.
At first, it was smooth sailing as we all stayed in our separate corners of the mat, but eventually, it started to get messy. In order to keep our hands and feet in the right spaces, we had to intertwine with one another, which moved the paint from the mat to us. It was a bonding moment because we couldn’t help but laugh when we saw one another covered in paint – one of my friends even had it in her ear.
When we finished, our leader asked us how this experience relates to being in relationships with other people. This was a lightbulb moment for me because I realized that there is no way to experience the joy of community without the messiness of it.
In his book Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them, John Ortberg says, “We were created to draw life and nourishment from one another the way roots of an oak tree draw life from the soil. Community – living in vital connectedness with others – is essential to human life.”
I was created to need God but also people (Genesis 2:18). According to God’s design, attempting to do life alone isn’t truly an option for me. Instead of hiding out in my turtle shell, I am intentionally making room for people. Friday nights nowadays are usually spent hanging out with family or friends, doing activities, and talking about the joys and burdens of life – including who posted what on social media, who did what at work, and who is doing what this weekend.
I’ve by no means mastered this relationship thing, and I have A LOT to learn, but I know that people are a central component to thriving.
Plus, my soul needs it.