Vignettes of Community
Where I sit typing in this busy coffee shop I watch lives briefly intersect. Coming, going, coming; humans are social creatures, but sometimes we can be so isolated. The more people I encounter the more evident it becomes that people need people.
I am a product of my community. I have been either incredibly lucky or incredibly blessed to know the people I do.
Let me share a little how my community has touched me.
She Needed a Friend
She is strong and independent. She smiles everyday and if you'd see her, you'd never know how close to the brink of falling apart she is. She loves so freely and doesn't know how to ask for anything in return. She didn't know that real friends give up time and comfort and freedom, how real friends lay down their lives for one another.
We sat together and talked about boys and bills and work and family. We cried and laughed and I tried to get her to do yoga and we grew a new friendship, based not in trivial, fleeting fun - but in real life, in hardship and in joy.
This is the kind of friendship that is worth the investment.
He Needed an Ear
I listened. He told his story so slowly; it was hard to keep track. It was 10 minutes until 4:00 and I was having trouble focusing on anything but all of the charting I had left to do before going home. But he wanted me to know about his belated love, about his family back in Missouri, about his rekindled flame with whom he had recently reconnected.
Of all the medication and diet changes and exercise, the best thing I could do for him was to listen and encourage him to find and follow his people. His newest old friend will improve his health so he finds joy in his silver years.
All he needed was an ear.
She Needed Support
Her husband is dying. It's taking everything she has to care for him and keep going. She loves him fiercely. She protects him, cares for him. She chooses this path daily - to stand by him through it all, but it's draining the life out of her, too.
The only thing we could think to do was to make her a few meals. So we stood in the kitchen all day and cut vegetables and stirred pots and layered casseroles. We talked about our own struggles and joys and did yoga while the food was in the oven. For all of the energy we poured into her, the love multiplied and filled our souls, too.
I think helping her was as good for us as it was for her.
She Needed Patience
She's one of the best people I know. Brilliant, beautiful, and an excellent human all the way around. She's encouraged me through some of my darkest days and inspired me to be my best self when I thought I didn't have it in me.
Then one day I realized I barely knew anything about her.
After hours and years and hundreds of conversations she's slowly starting to let me in. The walls of extroverted-ness that she hides behind have been incredibly effective; being real with someone is scary. Trust is something earned, not given.
It's been worth the wait to discover the treasure of her beautiful heart.
He Needed Someone as Kind as Him
He puts his needs before mine time and time again. He does it quietly, without fuss or complaint. Without anybody watching and usually without anybody noticing. And it's not just me; he does this at work, at home, with family and friends.
It's the first time I've met someone as kind as me, so I recognize the danger of letting someone take advantage of that grace and love. I must always remember to ask and listen, to be quiet and patient.
To be as kind as him.
I Needed People
There were moments when I doubted I'd ever be happy again. There were days of such a heavy heart. And there were days of joy, which I longed to share with people.
During this time, she answered every phone call. She listened through sobs and tears. She met me where I was.
An unlikely friend invited me into her group, where I didn't quite fit but was fully accepted.
Those two loved me without missing a beat, without so much as a hint of disappointment in me or how things turned out to be.
She did what I asked and reached out to him, however much she hated to do so, because she loves me so much.
With this community I have cried and laughed, I have explored mountains and valleys (literally and figuratively), I have learned more about myself than I thought possible. I owe everything to them and can only feel unbelievably blessed to give back all of myself.
We Need Community
The fallacy of independence is thinking we can go it alone. The myth of individuality is we're better on our own than in a group. But that's wrong. I need people and you need people, too. It's not weakness; it's strength to be vulnerable, honest, and real.
So when you're ready: choose your people wisely, take a deep breath, and step off that ledge to fall into the grace of beautiful community.
It's terrifying. It's exhilarating. And it's totally worth it.
With love, from Peas and Hoppiness.