If you’re short on time, skip to the bottom! This post is an invitation to join in on something that really was an awesome experience for me last semester. It was so much fun that I’m doing it again!
Community used to be so easy.
As a kid, Mom made our play dates with families who became like cousins. We had sleepovers, played for hours in blanket forts, and made friendship bracelets that we swore to never remove. “Pretend” was the game, and we created stories elaborate enough to put any soap opera to shame.
Even after friends went home, my sisters were there. Living with someone binds you together in a million little moments. They blend together, creating a foundation of shared culture. In it are a zillion nuances of understanding that go comfortably unspoken and you hardly have to work at being understood.
Then I grew up and moved out.
Suddenly there were no sisters, no one to put that hangout on my calendar for me. I had to find community for myself.
It has been anything but easy.
At times I flung myself into ministry, thinking this was fellowship. I poured myself into other girls, draining my emotional reserves, never realizing that the way to receive is to come empty, not full and self-sufficient.
At other times I recoiled, stung by indifference or careless words. Rejection left bruises, and I erected walls to protect myself from more bruises.
But Jesus has been pulling those walls down with his love, helping me forgive and try again. And again.
Seventy times seven.
He has also shown me that community doesn’t always look the same. Life stages come and go. Sometimes community matches the classic images of a cup of steaming coffee in a quiet coffee shop…but most often it doesn’t.
Sometimes it means dashing across the street for a hug because you caught a glimpse of her taking out her trash.
Sometimes it means ditching all your well-made plans for the evening to watch her kids so that she can connect with her mom.
Sometimes it means giving grace and understanding when she can’t return your text for three weeks, or cancels the lunch date for the second time.
And sometimes? Sometimes community looks like writing a card to another woman you’ve never met.
Last semester I impulsively put my name on a list with a group of other bloggers who decided they were tired of junk mail, who believed in the power of words to encourage.
As Kaitlyn, one of the organizers put it,
“Here’s the thing: We all use our words in conversations and blog posts and tweets every day. We’re already spending them somewhere, but there are times we each need a pick-me-up. We can use our words–our written words–for good.”
A week later I received an email with a list of seven other women and helpful instructions. Each week I wrote one note to one of the girls on the list, and each week I received a note from one of them in the mail!
It takes no more than five minutes to write a card. Each week, I had so much fun browsing the next woman’s blog and twitter feed, looking for clues that would tell me her hopes, her fears, her quirks. I often prayed for her, and it made me feel connected in a way I thought impossible via the internet.
Because sometimes community is found in your mailbox.
If you want to try it out, sign up HERE. (And don’t wait, because the form closes tonight around midnight-ish!)