Tonight I was humbled by the words of one I would call a friend.
She apologized, in front of several people gathered, for being standoffish.
She specified it to myself and my boyfriend, explaining that it was a defense mechanism, due to hurts received by other short term members of the organization we are a part of.
I was so struck by the apology-
Because for all of my whining and complaining about the difficulties of finding community in new places, I see that I am guilty of the same as this brave soul- if not more.
I have held myself apart, I have let myself judge and condemn those I could have loved... I have not sought the hearts of those around me, and yet have expected total vulnerability from people who, like me and any other walking, breathing person, have been hurt by none other than people.
Love is not instantaneous. Friends for life don't appear overnight. In fact, you probably won't even like half the people you come into contact with- at least not immediately.
So what do we do?
We're all longing for those deep relationships, with people we love, and who love us back. If we've had healthy relationships, we get frustrated when people in new places don't 'click' with us exactly like the old ones did... If we haven't had healthy relationships, we try to hard or just close off completely. And if you find yourself in the middle of those things, mix up what I just said and you'll see we all struggle with relationships. Not just dating- community.
I guess we all have to face the facts.
Good, worthwhile community takes time, a lot of patience, intentionality, and a conscious decision to love the people around you. Not erotic love, but the kind of love that causes us to honor one another above ourselves. Consider your neighbor's needs befor you complain about your own not being met.
Let's try some 'new' old tricks. Add your own as per your experience & needs.
-don't ask how people are unless you're willing to take the time to really know the answer
-smile more. Plus, it actually burns more calories to smile than it does to frown. ;)
-take care of yourself. Half the time we want to turn into hermits or turtles, it's really our brains telling us we need something, like sleep. Who knew?
-know yourself. Who you are, what your needs are. How do you rest? What do you do for fun? When you know who you are and are taking care of yourself, it's easier to go into a conversation or relationship thinking about the other person's needs rather than your own.
-be intentional with the people around you. Actually ask them what their favorite color is, and remember it. Learn how to pronounce their name.... Maybe even go do something fun with them. And let them choose- maybe you'll get to try something new!
There's tons more we can do to build community.
For me, it boils down to this: love God, love people.
An old mantra I was taught at school, but it works.
If you're loving God, your perspective will be right, and you'll know who you are. Loving people comes naturally after that. ;)
And don't forget to be real- laugh and cry and share the hard stuff. If you're rooted in God, it's not quite as scary, cause you'll know He's got you. Then you can be really vulnerable, just like my friend.
Then maybe you can blog about it. Or sleep, like I'm about to do. That really helps stuff marinate in the brain. (Crazy talk signifies it is way past Megan's bedtime. Adios y'all.)