Thursday, August 22, 2013

8 Ways I've Become Part of My Community

I love to write out our road trips and adventures away from home, but the past couple weeks have provided many opportunities to reflect upon how blessed we are in living where we do. I was just telling Sharon, today: I've never before loved so many people in one place.

I've lived longer in this area (twelve years) than anywhere else, but I haven't always felt so rooted, grounded, and just...deeply satisfied here. In fact, Jim and I started our marriage just over six years ago assuming that--as soon as my joint-custodial arrangement no longer precluded it--we'd return to East Tennessee. And who can guess what the Lord has in store?, but these days, we think of this as our permanent home base, if nothing else.

These past couple weeks, I've been asking myself: what changed in terms of my relationship with my physical (as opposed to virtual) community? And I thought I'd share some of my thoughts about settling in, in hopes that they'll bless or help.

  • I spend time in my community, which sounds like a given but isn't necessarily. Years went by that I spent most of my waking hours in various workplaces or hang-outs outside my community. I know we can't all work near home (My husband works outside our community!), but we can usually make choices regarding where to spend our free time. This past weekend, for example, Jim and I talked about going to the lake or ocean but decided, instead, to explore the new state park right down the road.

  • I joined a church within my community and have developed ties to those with whom I worship; however,
  • I reject daily the idea that my church exists within one building and, instead, make a point of serving the Lord whenever, wherever, and however I feel led. With this mentality, I've developed many friendships inside my community but outside my center of worship.
  • I identified my spiritual gift (mercy) and went to work, casting myself under the leadership of those who specialize in the realm of pastoral care. By doing so, I've developed friendships with those I've served under and with...not to mention with those I've participated in serving.
  • I've committed to studying the Bible with others in my community. If anything forges bonds more than this, I don't know what it is.
  • I've stopped trying to limit the number of friends I have. That looks silly on the page, but I've gone through seasons of feeling reluctant to start at the beginning with someone: to tell my story, to go through that awkward phase of getting to know a person. At some point, it just clicked: everyone has something to teach me. Also, it's ok that not every relationship develops into a deep and eternal bond.
  • I've stopped trying to develop friendships for the sake of my children. This has been huge for me. I don't mean to imply that I maintain friendships inappropriate for my children; I mean that some of my most rewarding friendships are with people who don't have children my children's ages, or at all.
  • I've stopped waiting to be pursued. Instead, I initiate, invite, include, offer.

What about you? What connects you to the community in which you live? 
Or what particular challenges do you face there, in terms of feeling connected?


  1. good post brandee. I feel like a giant fail in this area. i'll be honest community is the ONE thing I long for and don't feel like it will happen here. i'm not sure what my problem is, but there's a disconnect. great advice though friend. so grateful you are in my tiny circle here. I need you!

    1. You have an incredible virtual community: maybe the best of everyone I know. You invest heavily in it; I'm sure that's why it is what it is. I'm not sure why the disconnect in terms of physical community because I've witnessed your trying. Praying for a faster click than the one(s) I've described/experienced. Thankful God brought us together. You have certainly blessed me.

  2. Such a great post! I've lived in this one home with Jim for 22 years. It's a strange thought, will one day I have grand kids running around here in this particular house?

    I think when you start setting those roots down the community becomes like a family in a way. One day you may love it and the next day you are not, but it comes down to commitment rather than should I go because of.....

    Way to set roots down girl!

  3. Great tips for becoming an active member of your community. You will still have to choose which members or parts of the community you want to actively pursue. You won't want to be a part of everything. Yet, you can share your gift of the spirit with all you meet. I've never felt "at home" in my community, but I know I'm to bloom where I am planted. A while back I blogged about being a missionary in my own neighborhood. I may just need to go back and read that again. Now that I have time, and hopefully, energy. Thank you for this thoughtful post.

    1. "You will still have to choose which members or parts of the community you want to actively pursue." Agreed, and thank you so much for saying so; it's such an important point! Honest to goodness, I wrote about learning to trust myself in saying yes AND no, but I deleted that point because I realized it was hard to explain. I say no to things more often than to people, and part of that is knowing what's a poor fit. For example, someone once suggested that I head up Vacation Bible School, and "no" rolled very easily off my tongue because every aspect of that (planning, scheduling, delegating, large group of children) is outside the realm of what I do well. At the same time, I often find myself doing things outside of my comfort zone--things I don't really want to do--because I feel the Lord prompting me to do them. It's taken years for me to discern His voice, but I rely on it to guide me in terms of all the questions...or at least who, what, when, where, and how.

  4. I will use some of your suggestions for my community involvement. We all need to know and love each other, more. Blessings!

  5. Oh good heavens--I was about to comment on the content in this post, but then I saw the awesome pic with the boots. Have mercy--that is one cutie-patootie!

    But, back to what I was thinking--making friends not just for the sake of my children. That's huge. I think that's something we mamas who have earned a bit of gray hair (and perhaps some wisdom and maturity) ought to be encouraging young moms to do.

    Lots of good stuff in here, Brandee dear. I do not feel rooted in my community and have been asking God who he intends me to be a blessing to. Cause it doesn't look like I'm getting out of here any time soon.

    Sorry I haven't been around much lately--the sun has been shining and I've needed to go out and play in it. Hugs to you.

  6. I love this. I love the pic and I love how you are engaged with your community. I'm pinning this bad boy. You know it.

  7. i am not particularly connected, but some of your words may be of help.