Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work; If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up.-- Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Connection. We all need it. God Himself said that it is not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). The Bible gives important information on how to be a friend and why we need community. Real connection, real community. They didn't have Facebook in Bible times but I'm pretty sure that's not the type of relationship they were talking about. They meant the real old-fashioned face-to-face friendship. The stuff of 'Happy Days' and 'I Love Lucy'.
Community. In my experience that's been a word far over-used in the church. Like fellowship. Community should be about people coming together, sharing friendship, sharing faith, sharing trouble as well as joys. In my experience, that hasn't always been the case. But perhaps that's what makes finding a real community, or creating one, so amazing.
Connection and community, two things I've shied away from for the past few years. Shied? Okay, slight (major) under-exaggeration. I ran away from it full speed ahead, do no pass go, do not collect $200. Trusting people can lead to hurt, and being part of a community can lead to over-exposure and gossip. Can. Doesn't mean 'will' or 'always' or 'has to'. It means there is a possibility for it. Then again, there's a possibility that as I type this a 747 will drop the sky and kill me. Or little purple fairies will come out of the cd-rom drive and deafen me with their banshee scream. Both are unlikely but both could happen. Maybe. Not too sure about the plane.
Over the last year I've started to open my heart again. I realized that if I was ever going to have friends, real friendships, real connections with anyone outside of my family, I would have to take some risks. I'd have to do the reaching out. I found out that reaching out doesn't have to be a big production; it's a joke, a word of encouragement, it can be a moment of commiserating (isn't it so good to know we're not alone in our frustrations sometimes?). And those moments can build into friendships. Friendship doesn't mean hanging out together every weekend and going to dinner every Friday night. It can. Sometimes that's how it materializes. But sometimes friendship simply looks like people laughing, people looking forward to seeing each other (even if it is at work), people connecting.
Every now and then I am thunderstruck to discover I have a community. True, the people in it don't necessarily know each other. And if they met the might not necessarily like each other's opinions or beliefs. But they don't have to. It's my community, my circle of friends. I connect with each one of them. I may never 'hang out' with some of them beyond work stuff, but don't we all need work friends? Those people that keep us from going crazy, or maybe go crazy right along with us?
It's been my experience that friends aren't friends forever (even if the Lord is Lord of them, thank you very much Michael W. Smith...) The only talking I do with people from m high school are through Facebook. I have one or two college friends I see once or twice a year. But that's me. I know other people who still have friends from grade school--my brother and his best friend have been buds since they were 5 years old. The friends Curtis and I have had the longest are, in fact, our brothers (and now their lovely wives). Sometimes friendships blow up but more often they just dissolve, time and geography and change gets in the way. Sometimes friendships can be rekindled; it's my deepest hope to have some of my old friendships take some form of what they used to be as God does His thing. I have no way of knowing how long the friendships I have now will last. I hope for a very long time. But I don't worry about it. I'm grateful for them. For every shared laugh, every late night, every impromptu dinner, every favor, every prayer.
I'm thankful to have that connection again. And while part of me believed I'd never say it, I'm thankful for community. God is right (whoda thunk it?), real connection and friendship is a beautiful thing. And I've been blessed to have some friends, in my past and right now in my present, that are gifts from God.