We need community. If you’re not part of a community, you need to find one. If you can’t find one, you need to make one.
Four years ago, my new-ish friend Beth and I decided we needed a community. But at the time, we didn’t even know it. We hand selected a Bible study group...basically a bunch of people we thought were cool and wanted to be friends with. It was a pretty random group, too - some married, some single...some parents, some not...and an eleven year age gap between the oldest and youngest (me).
What’s amazing is that “community” is what we actually became. Seven - and then a year later, eight - of us began regularly meeting on Monday nights for dinner, prayer, and an ambitious goal to read through the Bible in a year. But soon our relationship turned into more than just weekly meetings reading the Bible and sharing prayer requests with one another. We also joined together to watch Sunday afternoon football games, walk through the nature preserve and look for gators, eat Jimmy John’s and cheer during the World Cup, and a cruise to the Bahamas.
Four years later, we still haven’t made it through even the Old Testament. In fact, our Bible study has completely lapsed. But what’s amazing is that the community has remained. In four years time, so much has happened. We’ve supported each other through break-ups, divorce, and Beth’s wondrous marriage to Nick, moving our little community population up to nine. Seven of us have moved to different houses, some across town and some across the country. We’ve ALL had at least one job change, some two or three. Lindi was born, a new niece to seven of us and a daughter to two. One of us graduated, three of us started school. For every single one of us, life is seriously 180 degrees different from what it was when we started life together.
There has been so much opportunity for our community to fall apart, to lose touch, to fade away. Yet as I write this, we are on the plane back from our most recent family vacation, a trip to visit Beth and Nick in New Jersey. I’m crying as Shelli is next to me and quietly singing “blessed be You name, in the land that is plentiful, where the streams of abundance flow, blessed be Your name...” and no words seem more fitting. How in the world nine of us were able to get off work, away from family, and free of other obligations on the same weekend is something only God could ordain. Then again, he’s ordained our entire friendship since the beginning, so why would that be a surprise?
This weekend I spent time on a military base, where people are constantly moving in and out, and solid community is hard to keep. When families are there, it’s not too difficult, but as soon as they move on to their next assignment, it’s easy to lose touch. I met a theatre student at the Staten Island Ferry whose words about life in the city were “It’s kind of hard to make real friends.” She recalled her days of high school, where attending Young Life camp in upstate New York made her feel like she was part of a really special community.
Seeing and hearing these things remind me of how incredible blessed I am. I have community everywhere I look. I have friends who are family, family who are friends, and a youth group whose community is noticed by everyone who meets them. And I NEED that! I need people who know me better than I know myself, who call me out on my junk, who make me laugh till I pee my pants. I need Becca, a sister who’s a my twin. I need Lisa, who is the same person as me. I need Beth to be the Ramona to my Theodora. I need Kandace and Katie, students who call me out when they can see me right through me. I need Michael, who has a passion for youth ministry that is unmatched. I need Shelli to take two hours out of her day to stand in the bathroom and pick lice out of my hair...twice. And I need so many more people I can’t even begin to mention without a) wanting to cry or b) making this the longest blog post in the history of Blogspot.
So to end this like I started it, I need community. We ALL need community. The hardest person in the world needs someone they can turn to, someone who loves them despite all their flaws. If you don’t have community, find it or make it! Seek out a group who you can do Bible study with, be accountable to. Make Christ the center. I dare you to tell me it doesn’t change your life.
the Gleep family (l to r): Beth, Eric, Katie, Me, Chris, Shelli, Scott, Amy, & Nick. Love them.