More Than One
I’m convinced of two things: 1. we were created with a need for community, 2. we have no idea what that means. Using my own life as my drawing board, I’ve learned a few things. First, that I love being around people and I love being by myself. More specifically, I like being in medium sized crowds (like at the gym and the movie theater, not amusement parks and baseball games), where I can observe people’s behaviors, feel included in our common interests, but still unnoticed and undisturbed. I also enjoy being in small groups, of four to six, where intimate and real relationships can grow. But my favorite (most comfortable) size party is one or two. By myself I am safe, safe from the insecurities and judgments of others; and with just one other (preferably my husband or best friend), I can be myself, grazing off their attention and conversation. In all of these situations, the goal is to grow stronger in my social inadequacies and learn to love people more.
For years I prayed that God would give me a love for people the way He does, and gradually I can see the transformation in my heart taking place. But it is gradual and it takes time. Thankfully, I have a husband who evens me out; he is the epitome of a “people person,” whether it’s two or two hundred, he loves being with people, he’s energized by them. (I still don’t quite understand his extremity, but I’m sure he feels the same about mine.)
Now I shall attempt to avoid choosing a precise definition for “community” (because believe me I’ve heard and read plenty), the most basic explanation I find is: more than one. There is the biological definition of “community,” which is a group of interacting organisms sharing a populated environment. The sociological one is undecided because they’re still debating over the possible ninety-four definitions. Traditionally, a “community” has been defined as a group of interacting people living in a common location. And most literally, the word “community” is derived from the Old French communité which is derived from the Latin communitas (cum, “with/together” + munus, “gift”), a broad term for fellowship or organized society. Theologically, a “community” is a group of people with a common unity (i.e. Jesus Christ).
My difficulty lies not in understanding what a community is, but in how the depth of the community is lived out. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem being close and personal; but I’m also very intent on keeping my heart safe, and I don’t want to put myself into a relationship or a community that isn’t going to put their self out there too. Now I know a handful of people that really get this whole community concept, but not many. Those people are very valuable and encouraging in my eyes. But where does the line of comfort and necessity lie? Or what if you’re convinced that it’s not necessarily a necessity to be in community? But nevertheless our excuse, there are biblical truths and historical facts that can support humans need to be with others. (Thankfully that was a need, otherwise Eve would have never been created!)
To conclude my thought, I will continue exploring this idea of community and my need for others, and hopefully my introverted, independent self will be a little less “careful” and a little more “out there.”