We Need Community
We were a couple of months overdue for our daughter’s one-year “well-baby” checkup with the doctor. We had recently moved to a new state and had not yet met with a pediatrician.
“It’s not a big deal,” I thought.
When I finally took Katie in for the standard checkup, I mentally prepared for the dreaded immunization shots. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the worst part.
The doctor looked at Katie’s body, looked at the growth charts I brought from her past checkups, looked at her height and weight numbers from that day, looked again at Katie’s body, and then looked at me with great concern on her face. What she said next made my head spin.
“You need to take Katie straight to the children’s hospital for a series of tests. She has stopped growing and is losing muscle tone. Something is seriously wrong.”
After listening and trying to comprehend the pediatrician’s explanation, I called my husband. I fumbled over the words as I shared what was happening and asked him to meet us at the hospital. I was overcome with shock and disbelief. Even as we waited together for admission to the hospital, my husband and I were mostly silent. We felt helpless, scared, and alone.
Since we had moved only a few months prior, we had not yet connected with a church family. In our previous location, we had experienced an in-depth, life-giving community within our church. We could call on our family of believers, and they would love and support us in very practical ways. They would show up for us, pray for us, and tend to needs we didn’t even know we had.
Now we found ourselves in a new home state. We did have parents and siblings nearby, which was an immense blessing, but we missed our church family.
We needed community.
We reached out to our far-away friends and church family. During our hospital stay, they checked in on us and supported us as best they could from long-distance. But it wasn’t the same. Being face-to-face and physically present with people who know and love you is very different than talking on the phone or over FaceTime. This fact has become abundantly clear over the past few months.
The forced physical separateness due to COVID-19 has caused all of us to consider the role of community in our lives. What we once took for granted (or maybe even avoided) is now much desired. Real community doesn’t feel the same via screens. We are hungry for connection.
Some of us are connected and feel comfortable reaching out through texts or calls when in need of support, encouragement, or advice. But others struggle to take that initiative. The tendency is to wait for someone else to notice or ask. During a never-before-experienced time like this pandemic, some might be sinking into a black hole of loneliness and isolation– just like my family felt during our hospital stay with Katie.
We were not created to live this life alone. We were created for community.
Do you feel it? I hope everyone will remember how this isolation has affected them and renew their desire to live life together rather than apart.
I’m afraid that some people will be affected otherwise. They will settle into deep isolation and be content to stay there. These are Satan’s lies! I believe he is enjoying this scattered isolation because he can get into ears and minds without other believers present to speak truth over it. We are less threatening to him if we keep to ourselves in our own homes all the time. It is dangerous to think that we don’t need anyone’s help or relationship.
We need community.
Living in community means both giving and taking. Although we naturally find ourselves better at one or the other, we must learn to give and take for community life to be fulfilling. Parents can practice this within the family, but we also need to implement it beyond our families. We need to demonstrate this lifestyle by showing our children what it means to look beyond ourselves and our own needs. Our kids should see us actively checking on others, taking the initiative to meet others’ needs, and looking for opportunities to serve in our communities. While those opportunities might be more abundant during crises such as the present one, we shouldn’t limit this practice to times of crisis.
When a baby is born, a new school year starts, a marriage is suffering, a child leaves for college, or tragedy strikes, we need community. We need to show up for each other, take the initiative, bring the food, sit at the hospital, help with the kids, ask the questions, or just listen. When we are in need, we need to boldly ask for help. Even if we don’t know what we need, we must let someone know when we are struggling.
Buzzwords such as touchless, contactless, and distance abound, but we cannot let these terms apply to our hearts and relationships. Our primary source of comfort shouldn’t be a car commercial that says, “we’re all in this together.”
We need community–REAL community–now and always.
The week that Katie was in the hospital was one of the worst weeks of our lives. Thankfully, the result was a diagnosis of Celiac Disease, rather than something much worse or life-threatening. During that crisis, our need for community was emphasized, and we actively sought it out afterward.
It’s interesting to notice what is highlighted—and even magnified–during times of crisis. Let’s not ignore it, and let’s not forget it.
We need community.
Carrie Bevell Partridge lives with her husband and five teenagers in Ridgeland, MS. She writes words of encouragement and support for marriage and family at carriebevellpartridge.com.
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