Claire and I became best friends at ski club in sixth grade. We rode chairlifts and talked about the tough things middle schoolers face -- friendships betrayed and unreciprocated crushes. We filled in each other's friends-only files (anyone remember those?) and had butterfly best friend necklaces.
Last weekend we got coffee (me) and tea (her), walked around a park, and talked about marriage, friendship, children, and wanting to re-learn each other's quirks after years of living apart. This ebb and flow of lifelong friendship, the coming together and leaving and still loving - this is community.
I first met my husband's friend group at a dirty bachelor pad where I wouldn't even sit down on the toilet. They talked in movie lines and I sat quietly. Over years, the bachelors married and I learned their lingo and inside jokes. The women are often referred to as "patient ladies" because of the guys' shenanigans, but we are blessed with so much laughter in return.
The group expanded and traditions formed. We do weddings, birthdays, leftover Thanksgiving, a summer cabin trip, rib fest, game nights and bonfires. We pray for each other and help each other through rough times. We have a Facebook group to share the things only we'd think are funny. Our babies are growing up together. That's community.
It wasn't always like this. In our early dating and married years, most of our close friends were away at college. Those days of figuring out how to live together, how to deal with morning sickness, how to be parents - they were kind of lonely. I praise God for our amazing parents, siblings, and church who were (and still are) such a support to us; I thank God for blogs like (in)courage and O My Family that showed me I wasn't alone. And I'm so grateful that our support system, our community, has expanded and deepened in the years since.
"We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing." 2 Thessalonians 1:3
Community grows us, shapes us, keeps us accountable. It lets us be Jesus to each other.
I'd love to hear your thoughts - What does community look like to you? Have you struggled to form community?