When my husband and I got married years ago, one of the things that I would pray for would be a house where people would feel welcome and comfortable. We love entertaining, we love having people over and making connections with friends. We both were very social in college and had a good great group of friends, and we got involved in a great community group at church. Some of my fondest memories are hosting people at our house for dinners or football games, going to dinners, and being connected with people every week.
Over the years close friends started to move away, then Covid happened which put a pause on group activities or gatherings, and for a while, there was anxiety and hesitation around gatherings. Last year we had a baby and were adjusting to our new life as parents which definitely took more of a toll on our social life. And to be honest, being a mom can feel incredibly isolating at times. There are many times you are up all hours of the night consoling your crying child or feeding them and it’s quiet and can feel quite lonely. There are many days, you are feeling so exhausted and drained that being around people or going out can feel more taxing than it does exciting. Dinners and social events have to be more planned out and there is a loss of spontaneity that we had before.
With these changes that have happened, lately, I have been really missing that sense of community and gatherings with friends. As I reflect on those years when we were much more plugged into the community, I can so clearly see the way The Lord used those people to encourage me, hold me accountable, and draw me closer to Him. Don’t get me wrong, we are very lucky and have a great support system here, but these days I find myself having to be more intentional about making community a priority. I have been reminding myself what a gift it is to have people you can walk through life with.
Community brings encouragement. I can think of many times when I had friends who were going through a really difficult time or times when I was struggling and knowing that we were going to be there for each other. We prayed together. We cried together. We walked through loss and grief. We celebrated the highs and shared what God has done for us. I have felt the most encouragement from my friends and people who have been there to lift me up, challenge me, and show me grace.
Community gives us the opportunity to serve others. I know there is a lot of stress leading up to hosting a party at your house, but there is something so special about bringing people into your home, cooking food for them, and inviting them into your space. Even if you don’t like to host people, there are so many opportunities to serve others. I have seen people show up in so many ways to serve others whether it was after a storm, helping someone who is sick, or just a passing comment that they needed help with yard work. The more we look to the needs of others, the more we have opportunities to serve them and show them God’s love through actions and sometimes just showing up to be there.
The importance of community is all over scripture. God calls us to fellowship with each other, to love each other, to gather, to be hospitable, to teach, and to lean on each other.
“ A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17
“ And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” Hebrews 10: 24-25
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4: 8-9
If you are like me, you may enjoy the balance of being alone, recharging, and having quiet time, but don’t forget that having a community is such a gift. Surrounding ourselves with people that will love us, encourage us, hold us accountable, and be there to support us when we fail is crucial to our growth in our faith life and also just as human beings. Life can be busy, but I would encourage you to make the effort to reach out to friends, schedule dinners, invite people into your home, into your life, and be intentional about finding people you can trust and lean on to walk alongside you. And if you are well connected or already have a great community, I would encourage you to keep your eyes open for someone who seems isolated or that friend you haven’t heard from in a while. Sometimes we just need to be invited in.