A couple weeks ago I was sitting outside reading my book and journaling. It had been a difficult week for me. I had missed out on a dear friend’s wedding, I was homesick, and it was the first week where I had nothing to do for our lawyer. I just had to accept the fact that I had done all that I could do. I was just about to head inside when I was brought a package that had been left on the front steps, and it was from a friend in Nashville. I didn’t know what to think or expect as I opened the box. No one had hinted at something being sent nor had anyone asked for my address. When I opened the package I was completely and utterly overwhelmed. Letters from friends in Nashville and sweet little gifts filled the box, and as I read each letter, I was filled with love and encouragement. All I kept thinking about was how truly blessed I was to have a community of people like this around me.
Community isn’t something I gave much thought to before this journey. I thought my community stretched only as far as my friends and family; an intimate circle of people that knew me. That community was about getting together every once in awhile, sharing a meal, celebrating a particular occasion, or maybe offering to pray during a tough time. However, I’ve learned that community is so much more.
We were made for community. When God created man, he never wanted us to be alone. He wanted Adam to have a partner and together they would fill the earth (Gen. 1:28). God calls us time and time again to build relationships with those around us. To build each other up, to be there in times of need, to love and support, and most importantly to share in our struggle. In Ann Voskamp’s The Broken Way, she says:
“Suffering says that we cannot bear under this cross alone— we can only bear it if we can bear depending on another…. Wasn’t suffering then actually a call for us to be a community, to stand together…trusting that arms of love are always under us?”
The Lord doesn’t give us anything that we can’t we handle. He ensures that we have the strength we need, through Him, no matter what challenge we’re facing. Sometimes that strength can be found within us and sometimes that strength is found in and through the people around us. For me, it’s found in the community of people from my parents’ church who gathered at their home and prayed over Michael and I, my parents, and my sister. It’s found in the people who have offered up a room in their home, who have offered to cook meals and watch our dog. Even in simple texts saying, “I’m praying for you” or “I’m here for you”, or reminding you to find the simple joys in your day.
Community doesn’t just mean the people you live with, your friends, family or coworkers. It extends to people that you may have never even met before. People that are willing to take time out of their lives to show their love through prayer, conversation, laughter, food, or just sitting with you and distracting you from the very present thing that is weighing you down.
To me, community is texting, calling, writing, and yes, sending boxes filled with surprises that remind you that you are not alone in this desperate season you are walking in. When we are too tired to lift our heads and our hearts and we feel like we can’t move forward, our community rallies around us and takes hold, reminding us that we don’t have to do this alone. That our voice is not the only voice crying out; a chorus is surrounding us and joining with us.
Whether your community comes in the form of a box of goodies, a text, or your people sitting around a table sharing a meal together, always remember that there is strength there. There is encouragement in the laughter and conversation, and behind it all is the gentle reminder that these are the people that will stick with you until the very end.