Have you noticed the increase in cliche sayings such as, “Your vibe attracts your tribe”, or “Life is better in community”? It’s like a lousy rom-com movie when suddenly all the extras yell out at the main character, “Go get the girl!” As annoying as those things can be, there is truth to these sayings. This idea of community, support and family shouldn’t be thrown away so quickly.
I like my quiet moments like the next person, as much as an extrovert can enjoy them. But when we’re not careful, those moments can turn into extended vacations in no man’s land. Before you know it, you’re perfectly content on a lonely island with Wilson (courtesy of Tom Hanks). But seriously, isolation can be a dangerous place where we miss out on the benefits of being in life-giving relationships with others.
I used to be skeptical of the community idea. After years of being burned by people, I determined life would be much better with myself, husband and our children in our little world. I quickly learned that’s not true the hard way.
Try going on an intimate date night with two kids. Or, who do you talk to when your spouse is driving you crazy? We were created to need other people. Otherwise, wouldn’t life be one human and God for all eternity? It’s not supposed to be that way. We need each other. Through my time exploring community living, I’ve witnessed four ways living in a community can impact your life.
Advice from People Invested in Your Future
Your community, tribe, friendship circle or whatever you want to call isn’t random. These are individuals that are joined by a shared value system, a love for one another. With that love comes advice that you love and some that you may not want to hear. But the beautiful thing is the right group of people wants what’s right for you. They want to see you soar. So yes, you may hear that your crush is going to crush you, or that you need to stop being so anxious and wait on God, and chances are, they are right. That’s a benefit of the community that will change your life.
You Need a Safe Place to Vent
Like I told you, community was not always my thing. But when I hit a bumpy patch with my husband, I needed people to talk to. Who could I trust? How do we find people that won’t gossip about us the minute we leave their presence. That is what invested communities are all about.
The people in our circle should have the desire to see you and everything connected to you grow and prosper. That means they aren’t afraid to get into the trenches with you, pray with you, cry with you. Because essentially they are you. My community prayed for my marriage. They encouraged me in areas I was failing. And it stayed between us. We need people who can handle seeing your bad side without exposing it all of social media.
You Need People in the Bleachers
Imagine going to a sporting event, walking out onto the field and realizing you’re the only person there. The sheer disappointment of the players would make your skin crawl. It’s just not right. It’s sad. That’s what our lives look like when we don’t have people in our bleachers.
What’s the point of playing if you don’t have someone cheering you on? Some of the darkest, most silent times of your life could be drastically different when you have friends to lean on. A group to pump you up when you’re deflated and spur you onto victory is invaluable. Your tribe cheers for you. They scream your name every time you score. Your community embraces you, celebrates you when you win and uplifts you when you lose. That’s what you need in your life. That makes doing life with others worth it.
People Need You
You are so valuable. Your experiences matter. When you keep yourself from engaging in the community, you rob people of the opportunity of learning from and growing with you.
I struggled with this concept because it demands openness and vulnerability—two things that aren’t natural to me. What if someone used me for what I know? What if they only wanted me around for what I have to offer. Those are real, valid concerns. But in reality, they are also excuses to protect our hearts. Not every single person you meet will value you. Some people have already stolen from your life and walked away. But you are still here. Even more valuable than before. So why not allow yourself to grow and help others grow in the community. The risk is truly worth the reward. You will be astonished by how much impact it makes on your life, and you make on the lives of others.
There is a time and place for solitude, but never long term isolation, which can leave you vulnerable to bad stuff like depression, self-deprecating mindsets, thoughts that go against the truth of God and poor avoidable choices. The right people can combat those tendencies and strengthen each other in weakness. There are so many benefits to be pointed out in community living; the most significant benefit is you—both what you gain and what you give.
Doing life with people will not always be easy. You may still have days where you want to hide in a corner, and times when you don’t want good advice or just feel like giving up. In those moments you’ll come to find that you have friends to lift you out of your funk, to check on how you’re doing and not take fine as an acceptable answer. And although the idea of community can be romanticized, there will be hard times too. You’ll have friction. You may disagree. But the love that binds you together will show Proverbs 27:17 to be true: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
The process of becoming better together is a beautiful one ordained by God.
Don’t know how to go about living in a community? That is perfectly OK. Start by praying, “God who do you want me to live in a community with? Show me and lead me to connect with them.”
That simple prayer is life-changing. And it can bring you into great relationships. It may be scary, it will stretch you out of your comfort zone, but the impact it will bring is worth it. You’re worth it. Your future will be improved by relationship investments, which is why you shouldn’t do life alone.