I have an author Facebook page. It is inhabited by a community of people from all over and I have met very few of them in person. The interaction on that page has increased my thinking about the word community.
What does the word community mean to you? Do you automatically belong to a community because you move into a neighborhood? How far are the boundaries of any community you might consider in response to that question? Is your concept of community inclusive, open and welcoming, or exclusive with a list of requirements? What kind of requirements? Education level? Intelligence level? Economics? Racial? Do you have a list of people excluded from your community?
I am asking myself all these questions and more. One day I looked in the mirror and saw a judgmental person. She looked a lot like me but I knew I was not judgmental. Must be someone else, a coincidence.
But when I listed some of my own character traits, I either had to ignore my core value of honesty or admit I wasn’t so sure I’d like to be my own friend, a neighbor to me, a member of my community. I might fight the urge to pull in the welcome mat so I wouldn’t knock on my own door.
I have to push myself to be social. I am an introvert. And I’ve waved that introvert flag frequently. I’m a writer, far too busy to interact at community social events. I am not into shopping, or discussing home decorating, or a short list of things enjoyed by other women. Thus, I’ve told myself for years I needn’t hang out with any of them. I’ll just stay home and read my Bible, read worthwhile challenging books, none of that fluff stuff for me. I’ll only be friends with people who like the same things I like. (Other folks have crept in who are very different from me but in my selfishness, I prefer folks like me to be my friends. That means I miss the richness of individuals as each one of us is unique. That means I miss knowing people loved by God.)
The conviction of my own sins and selfishness has been slow coming but it has come. It’s not possible for me to promote myself as an author who believes in the Gospel, in God’s grace, in the model of Jesus who lived a life of interacting with an interesting variety of people, and who died for all of us, believers or not. Out of that late in life conviction came a desire, no a hunger, to reach out more. To engage with readers of this blog, followers on my author page, and more importantly to the people who live in our 55 plus mobile home community, especially to women where I live.
I hope in a couple of months to invite women who live in this Florida mobile home park to come and talk about that word, community. What kind of community do we live in? What kind of community do they dream we might become? How do we as a group and as individuals love our neighbors even though we might not be best buddies or close friends? Love is not an emotion. Love is an action.
I invite you to ponder that word community, to think about it, to pray about it. Reach out to a lonely neighbor, stop and talk to the person you least want to, don’t judge, be a model of civility, a trait now in decline. Not asking anyone to be a glad hander, or forcing deep friendships. We all can figure this out. I thank God for the home in which I was raised, in the community in which I was raised and in the era in which I was raised. I have that experience to use as a guiding light in my efforts to be a person who extends a simple hello and a smile.
If you want, let me know how you do on this. Pray I do better than okay. Thanks.