I’ve just come away from organizing a successful fundraiser for my church community. Everyone showed up for the fundraiser bringing food and auction items and they enjoyed laughing and dancing within that community of people. This is the sort of experience that strengthens our individual selves as well as the community. Makes us feel wanted, needed, and gives us a sense of belonging.
And then there’s those other moments as a part of a group. When someone says something that pisses you off. When you feel taken advantage of or attacked when you meant only the best, of course. And those moments will ruin many years of good intentions and community bonds. Because we’re human and messy and sensitive and lousy communicators.
I have never been a part of a community until this one. And while we’re not best friends with anyone, there’s a definite knowledge that if we needed help in any way, we would have a boatload of people show up to deliver that help and take care of us. They are like family in that way. That’s the kind of support that we need as individual and for our families. That’s the definition of community.
While the dust was settling from a nasty divorce with his first wife, my now husband received some advice from a bartender. He said, “At first, all women will seem evil. Then only one woman will be evil. And eventually, women will be a necessary evil.” Community is a necessary evil. Without it, we have no mirrors to gauge ourselves, see if what we feel is normal. We have no support system and we have no one to sing and dance with and keep us warm.
I can see now that the most hurt I have experienced has come from people putting their fears onto me. Those are the moments when I want nothing more to do with them or the place where I know them from. But where else can we practice compassion for ourselves but inside a community of like-minded people? By giving them the chance to be human and make bad choices and be forgiven, we can offer that to ourselves as well.
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