Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I am so thankful to be a part of a community

There's this woman I know who is feeling totally alone. A busy, burned out, hard working single mother of a girl on the verge of teenage craziness, she is finding that there are very few supportive people in the corners of her life. Unlike me, I thankfully admit. I have loving, supportive people in my corner. In every corner of my life. And it feels good, it really does. And so, naturally, I feel bad for this woman. I do. I really do. So I have been thinking about the supportive people in my life and it got me thinking. It is all about community. And becoming a part of a community takes time. It takes work. It takes the realization that it's not all about you. It takes putting others first, especially your children. It takes faith.

My husband and I used to belong to a small group through our church. We were matched with four other young couples and met at least once a month for three years. About two and a half years in it became painfully clear that this wasn't working for us. We brought our oldest son into our family about a year into joining the group and became the only couple with children. Suddenly we were dealing with baby sitters and issues our fellow small group participants couldn't understand. We found we weren't getting as much out of the bible studies as we should have. We began to dread the get togethers. So we decided, after much thought, to leave the group. That was a while ago, and since then I have realized that it wasn't the small group mentality we didn't like. It wasn't the bible study. It was just that particular group that didn't work for us, even though we liked and respected everyone there. From that small group experience though, we found a few very good friends and many others who would help us in a pinch. We see these people at church, at day care, in the community, at the grocery store... they are  part of our community.

I am a busy woman. I have to feel pretty strongly about something before I get involved. I am quiet by nature and am happiest when at home with my husband and boys. So it was a big step for me to join the board of Central Ohio Families With Children From China. (If you check out the link that's my sweet boy on the front page, on the right, in the Brown's shirt.) But I had to join. I felt that our youngest children from China, and our boys, especially, were under served by this very family friendly group. And I believe that you must be the change you want to see in the world. So I joined the board. I became active. I helped to start a social group for the youngest adoptees. I put mine and others' kids first, and I was the lucky one. The other families in this group - they are a part of our community now.

I have a small handful of close friends from college that are  part of my community. I have my Kent State University Kappa Kappa Psi brothers. We may not chat every day but my brothers will always have my back. They are my community. And it goes on and on.

I find myself getting frustrated sometimes when people feel so alone. Why can't these people see the bigger picture? They feel they don't have the time to join a church, or a club. They think they are the only ones with busy jobs or occasionally wild kids. They live in their cocoon. And when the need a ride because the car broke down, or need a sitter because the kid is sick and that meeting just can't be missed, they have nowhere to turn. Which perpetuates the cycle of feeling alone. I know it's not easy. But break the cycle. Find your community. It takes time. It takes work. it takes putting others, including God, first. But being a part of a community is how we are intended to live. I am so thankful for my community.

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