/kəˈmyunɪti / [kuh-myoo-ni-tee]
noun – a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists (usually preceded by the): the business community; the community of scholars.
We recently had the opportunity to share with a group of foster parents about the value and necessity of being part of a close-knit community. Like the old song says, “We all need someone to lean on.” But more than just needing someone to lean on we all need to be someone that other people can lean on too.
People who volunteer tend to have higher self-esteem, psychological well-being, and happiness. All of these things go up as their feelings of social connectedness goes up, which in reality, it does. It also improves their health and even their longevity.*
That’s the beauty of true community, for it to work well both give and take need to be there in healthy proportions. Sometimes you take and sometimes you give. What you essentially need is a support group of people who depend on you.
This, of course fits with the original design of things. God created us to be relational beings. He created us to live in relationship with Him and in relationship with others. It seems like true meaningful relationships are a rarity in our consumer culture.
Giving is hard when we are conditioned to take, but you have to have people in your life who are invested in you like you are invested in them. They know you and love you anyway.
While it’s easy to focus on the many positives associated with living in community we can’t forget the negative impact of isolation. When we hear of families that have reached the end of their tether, and are ready to throw in the towel, we usually find that they have no support mechanism around them.
We find that when things started getting difficult they didn’t seek help or build meaningful relationships, instead they chose to retreat. They thought that stepping away was the best thing to do. I get that retreating seems like the path to take but it is not. We need people to invest in our lives, to stand with us when things are tough and who will help (make) us deal with the issues at hand because without dealing there can be no healing.
Take the time to be a friend. Let some people in who are willing to invest in your life and who are willing to have you invest in their lives. It might scare you at first but it will be one of the best things you do.
*Why Helping Others Makes Us Happy – Pursuing self-interested goals drives ongoing community engagement and raises self-esteem.
By Philip Moeller – US World News and Report