Monday I blogged about my longing for community, but I don’t know if I did a very good job of communicating that this is a half-baked hope for me, not a reality. I’m no community guru, I just like to think out loud about these sorts of things. Mostly, I like to post about my crackpot ideas in the hope that all my brilliant readers will rock my world with their equally brilliant comments. I learn so much from you…
Anyway, in the spirit of half-bakedness (Ha!), I’m going to continue to define community today by using crappy alliteration to tell you three things that I think exemplify true, authentic relationship. Feel free to chime in. No, really. Please chime in.
Authentic community is…
Safe – Duh. And yet it deserves to be mentioned all the same. Have you ever told someone something only to regret it the second the words were out of your mouth? There is nothing worse than leaving a piece of yourself with a person who you do not consider to be safe. I have a lot of fun, wonderful, exciting people in my life who I don’t feel comfortable enough with to be authentic. We simply haven’t gone deep enough for me to trust them with all the messy parts of me. I think they’d probably scream and run the other way. Rightfully so.
Sacrificial – We all know that relationship is about give and take, but what about the times when it is about give and give (and some more give)? I believe that when you exist in true community, you don’t keep tabs. I’ve been in a relationship where everything was measured tit for tat, and it nearly drove me to drinking. I’m terrible at math and simply couldn’t keep up with the mental gymnastics necessary to stay abreast of when it was my turn to call. Guess what? There are some things I just plain suck at: I’m awful with dates and will forget your birthday unless you tell me when it is. I don’t pick up on subtle clues. I will almost always be five minutes late. But I am fiercely loyal. I will lavish you with compliments — and mean every single word. I will write you great (though admittedly infrequent) notes. The balance will always sway and tip, and there will be times when it feels like I take more than I give. Stay with me: it’ll fall back.
Scary – And hard. I believe that authentic community requires the sort of honesty that invites accountability. It means going the distance with one another at great personal risk and investment. And I really think that a lot of us would probably rather just go on skipping across the surface of our relationships. It’s much easier — and ultimately a lot more lonely. Are you afraid? Me, too.
Okay, that’s it for me. What do you think are some of the hallmarks of true community? I’d love to hear what you think.