It can be so awkward. Uncomfortable. Beautiful. Vibrant.
I know a thing or two about community. It’s because I’m so wildly popular, you see.
It may be because I work for a church that cares a lot about community, started a organization called New2Knox focused on community, and recently helped facilitate a discussion on community at a local young professionals’ summit. Maybe.
Okay, so I’m not wildly popular.
But I do continue to find myself talking about, learning about, and surrounded by all things community. Y’all, I love community.
So what have I learned?
1. Loneliness Doesn’t Discriminate.
My loneliest season (so far) was immediately after college. Moving to a new state, saying goodbye to my closest friends, starting a new job – that year or two after graduation was brutal. I don’t even like thinking about it. Let’s move on.
I thought since that season was over, I would never have to deal with loneliness again.
NOT SO (apparently.)
Turns out, loneliness doesn’t discriminate. At this young professionals’ summit I mentioned earlier, we heard from people all over the spectrum. According to their lives, here are some other potential times to be lonely:
– when you move again for any number of reasons
– when you have a baby
– when your friends have babies but you don’t
– when you’re a stay-at-home mom
– when you’re a working mom
– when you’re single and your friends are married
– when you’re married and your friends are single
– when your kids go off to college
No one’s safe.
Here’s the good news, though: everybody’s lonely. Or at least there’s a dang good chance they’re lonely. At the very least, they remember being lonely.
I can see how you may think that’s not good news.
But it is! Y’all! The pressure is off! You’re not crazy for being in a season of loneliness. You’re not defected or unusual. In fact, you’re extremely normal. In fact, you should probably start asking people to hang out all the time because there is a good chance you’re surrounded by people who want community as much as you do.
2. Humans are Meant for Community.
It’s normal to be lonely (I cannot stress this enough – SO NORMAL) but it’s certainly not good for the human soul to be disconnected from community for an extended period of time. Yes, even you introverts know that a close friend can be a game-changer.
We were made for community! We were even created by a God who is community – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Three in one. He gets it. He’s into it.
And I’ll admit, loneliness taught me so much. I learned so much about myself, what brings me life and enjoyment and creativity. In the midst of loneliness, I learned to lean on Jesus as an actual friend in a more real way than every before. But, ultimately, loneliness – that ache – is a result of the fall. Being alone – that’s fine. In fact, for some of us, being alone at certain points in the day can literally save lives (three deep breaths, count to ten, okay now I can be with humans again) – but loneliness. That ache is not holy, friends.
We were made for community. We were made to live life with people – to hear different perspectives, to be picked up during hard times and pick others up during good times, to have a chance to be honest with someone. We were made to worship together and eat together and talk together and teach each other and simply live in the knowledge that we’re not alone.
Community may not be the end goal of life – but it certainly helps us keep living. It brings richness and fullness and diversity. We’re meant for it.
3. Community is Not Organic.
We’re made for community – but anyone out of grade school or dorm life can tell you, it does not happen naturally.
If you’re lonely, there is a real chance you will have to dig yourself out with every ounce of energy and grit that you have in you. (And then when that doesn’t quite work still, you’ll also have to pray.)
Community comes from consistency. It comes from showing up over and over and over again. It comes from going out on a limb and saying something along the lines of, “Hey, I’m lonely. Are you?” It comes from doing the research and finding the places where your people may be. It comes from not giving up after a couple of dud small groups or kickball leagues or coffee dates. It comes from being vulnerable even when it’s really, really hard.
These things don’t happen naturally. They are hard. But they are worth it. Trust me.
All that to say, friend, you’re not crazy. You’re not unusual. You’re probably really cool and fun and interesting. You’re just lonely. We’ve all been there.
But now it’s probably time to get out. Go get ’em, kiddo.