Community is as defined in the dictionary as a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. “A Sense of community that organized religion can often provide.”
I love the sentence regarding religion. I feel we really fall short of creating community even in our religious circles. I feel the intent is there, but we are lacking in creating what we all really need and desire.
To me community is connection. A place where we feel connected, connected enough to be open, transparent, vulnerable, and with out fear of being who we really are. Often, especially in religious circles we are so focused on being perfect we don’t allow transparency and openness out of fear of being rejected. This often happens in our families and actually most areas of our lives. The fear of not being good enough keeps us from connection.
For me fear of rejection has often kept me from connection. That fear of not being enough. The fear of disappointing others and even myself. How often do we side track connection in pursuit of safety? And in the long term, what does safety bring us?
There are few things I have learned about connection. A few ideas and concepts that have helped me to move forward and create better connection in my life, from family to church, from friends to work associates, there are a few basic things we can do that will help us with connection in our lives.
One of the most basic things I have learned is how many want connection, many actually crave connection with others, from casual friends to more deeper meaningful friendships, most are seeking and desire this. For me to understand that most want the same thing I am seeking makes it easier for me to reach out understanding that they are in the same place I am, fearful of rejection and lacking in understanding how to connect. Because of my fears of rejection I often times stand on the sideline feeling out of place. When I realized I am not alone, it opened up a complete new world for me. Understanding this has given me the courage to make the first move and reach out to others.
I have to confess that it exceeded my comfort zone to actually make the first move. But I have learned as I take the courage to reach out I am constantly amazed at how great the reaction is. Recently I felt the urge to reach out to someone. It took courage to make the initial contact, but as I did the person explained to me that they felt the need to reach out to me but lacked the courage and was thankful I did. I once again learned that others are seeking, but because of fears don’t. Now I have a new friend and that person has a new friend also. So most want the same, but like most lack the courage to do so.
Creating community is also a lot about communication. Taking the time to communicate is huge. I was talking with my son about this. I love that boy. He expressed to me that often times he is the one that does most of the reaching out and that he felt that if he didn’t reach out he would never hear from his friends. We had a candid conversation about this. I asked if he ever felt hurt by the lack of his friends not reaching out and him always having to be the one. He actually said yes, it does hurt, but he has come to understand that it is not because his friends don’t care, but that they are busy with their lives and he said that when he makes the effort they are always happy to hear from him and he feels blessed in his life that is full of connections and community. I have found what my son experienced to be true and also that often times they are facing the same fears of rejection and so when we take the time to communicate it changes the game.
Communication can be as simple as a text message, a phone call, or even a simple hand written note. Think of how you feel when someone takes the time to reach out to you. Letting go of the fear of rejection and embracing the joy of connection, reaching out can bring a greater sense of community into our lives, even when we feel it is not reciprocated.
Community is connection. Connecting with words of affirmation can change a life. Reaching beyond our own fears and insecurities to lift and bless those around us will help us create community in all areas of our lives. Having the courage to act first without worry about what others may think can change our lives and the lives of others. From our family, church community, work environment, and other activities, we literally change the world if we take courage and step outside of our comfort zone and bless others with kindness, words of affirmations, and just a friendly smile or text.
Community is connection, taking the time to reach out.
I hope your life is full of connections that bless you and them and creates community.