Fostering Community

Over these past few posts we have been talking about Loneliness and How to Combat Loneliness.  Probably not a huge surprise, but we combat loneliness through relationships.  More specifically, healthy relationships where we feel safe and seen.  These relationships fall into one of two categories:

  1. Friendships 
  2. Community

We covered friendships in – How to be a Good Friend & What Does A Healthy Friendship Look Like?  Today we tackle community.

Community is what makes us feel connected.  Furthermore, God created us for community.  How is community different from friendship?  Community is a group of people who have something in common: 

  • The neighborhood where we live.   
  • Our Mom’s group.   
  • Our church.   
  • Our exercise group.   
  • Our Bible study.
  • The School our kids attend.

It can overlap with friendships, but not everyone in our community is necessarily a close friend too.   

It takes a village to raise a child and community is that village.  People who will rally around us and our family when we go through a difficult season. 

In 2017 I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  A diagnosis that dramatic forces you to ask for and accept help from your community.  And these circumstances are when we need our community most.   People who can:

  • Pray with and for us.
  • Keep us company.
  • Visit us.
  • Watch our kids.
  • Pick up our kids for us or give them rides.
  • Be a shoulder to cry on or a hand to hold.
  • Bring us meals.

We may already have community in our lives, but if not or if it is not at the level we would like, don’t lose hope, we can foster community.  All it takes is intentionality.  Minor tweaks in our everyday life can invite others into our community.   

What activists are we currently doing that can be done in community?  Exercising.  Eating.  Reading.  Going to the movies.  Hiking.  Biking.  The dog park.

Some simple ideas to foster community:

  • Join an exercise group.
  • Join a small group.
  • Start or join a supper club, coffee group, mom’s group, men’s group, women’s group
  • Play in the front yard more. This will result in natural opportunities to connect with people passing by. 
  • Invite people into our homes. Don’t just meet friends at Starbucks. Invite people into our real life. Let them see the mess. Our homes don’t need to be perfect and tidy to entertain. As a mother of preschoolers I intentionally saved cleaning until after playdates. Why? Because I knew those preschoolers would spill their drinks and snacks. I anticipated the post-playdate messes. So instead of wasting my time cleaning twice, I just cleaned afterward. No use cleaning up only to see it instantly ruined.
  • Be multi-generational. Seek out people who have more life experience than us. Community our age is great, but there is so much richness in multi-generational community. Those who are older than us have so much wisdom we can glean. They have been where we are and they can see the bigger picture, while we can get caught up in the present. I was once told by a mother older further along in her mothering journey that the stage I was in, that of toddlers and babies could be described as:

The days are long, but the years are short.  

Her quote has stuck with me and even in that moment, I knew she was right. It is so easy to get lost in the trees and not see the forest. Yes the days were long and difficult, but in hindsight, they were gone so quickly. Hearing her thoughts made me pause and appreciate my present season more.

We Go Together.  We need each other to thrive and survive. Our present epidemic of loneliness is proof of this. We need the input of not just peers, but older wiser friends. 

Together we are stronger.  We are better.  Together we bring out the best in one another. 

So let’s combat loneliness by fostering community.