If I had to pin down a theme for 2014, it would be S I M P L I F Y. Ya'll, it's been the undercurrent of our days over here, and we're loving it. Hans and I are coming up on one year of marriage ( ! ! ! ) and we very intentionally decided to keep our commitments simple during our first 365 days as Mr. and Mrs.
Gah. I'm a Mrs. That's still weird.
We learned that simplicity keeps us sane, so that theme will be continuing. Prior to marriage, Hans and I were leading Bible studies, involved in Challenge, meeting with people and planning events out the ying yang. We were simultaneously full of community and burnt out on it.
So taking a year off? Simultaneously freeing and isolating.
Our Sunday morning Young Marrieds class has been great, though. But it's a pretty intermittent group, and we only meet for an hour. Hans and I also have some dear friends that we hang out with regularly, but they aren't necessarily believers.
We've been missing C O M M U N I T Y. Honest, consistent, encouraging community.
Which, incidentally, was the topic of She Reads Truth's last She Shares Truth link up...specifically Spiritual Mothering. It's also, incidentally, the topic of the this month's Community Brew link up with Rachel of Oh Simple Thoughts and Madison of Wetherills Say I Do.
Ha. It's actually not really incidental. There's nothing incidental about God. The topic of C O M M U N I T Y is something He's been having me think about for a while now.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him — a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
What does community mean to you? Community means a connected group of people who mutually enjoy and encourage one another, who fiercely support and serve one another, and who honestly live and learn together.
Why is it hard to pursue community or open up to others? Developing honest community takes time, consistency, trust, learning, and being willing to let down your guard. In our get-it-in-a-hot-minute culture, I think we've lost the ability to let something grow slowly over time. We get impatient and we give up.
What does it look like to "live in community" with other believers and non believers? I really think it's just as simple as things like inviting others into your home, doing fun things together, studying the Word together, having thought provoking discussions, and freely offering up your guest room when someone else's septic tank overflows. Living in community also means consistency, too. It means showing up on the good days and the bad, and leaving the façade of perfection at home.
Why is community important to you? Because, to quote She Reads Truth, "we cannot and should not try to live and grow in the Gospel alone." God didn't make us for isolation. Heck, He Himself is community - Father, Spirit, and Son. That's all trinitarian and complicated, but the point is that not even God is alone, and we shouldn't be either.
What does it look like to love your neighbor? Loving your neighbor mostly means food for Hans and I. You just had a baby? Here's dinner! You're exhausted from work? Let me bake you some bread! It happens to be a Tuesday? Have some cookies! ;) It's practical love...helping with moving or a house project, watching their kids or their pets, helping them paint, or whatever!
What about you, friend? What does community mean to you?
Under Grace, Rachel