Community is Important to Thrive—We Need Each Other - Lisa E Betz
Are you good at everything? I know I’m not. The older I get, the more I appreciate the wisdom of admitting my weaknesses and gratefully accepting others to do what I can’t or shouldn’t do myself. I, as an individual, am stronger and more effective when I’m part of a supportive community. We need each other to thrive.
Community gives our lives meaning
Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.
As this quote says so pithily, our lives have meaning when we serve others in some way. If we’re only serving our own interests and desires, we’re not changing the world for good. Likewise, if we’re just existing, drifting along on autopilot, we’re not doing all we could to made a difference.
If I want a meaningful life, I need to accomplish things that benefit the world somehow. For example, I’m a teacher. It’s part of who God made me to be, and I can’t help looking for ways to pass on what I’ve learned to others. Obviously, I cannot be an effective teacher in a vacuum.
In what ways has God designed you to be of service to others? Are you a leader? A teacher? A nurturer? A problem-solver? An artist? Whoever you are and whatever you are good at, use your gifts for the benefit of others.
Community provides necessary support
God doesn’t intend for you to handle all the pain and stress in your life by yourself. We were wired for each other. We need each other.
Let’s face it, life can be rough even at the best of times. And when we embark on a journey from people pleasing to living more authentically, it can be even harder. We cannot do this life alone. We need supportive community to provide things like encouragement, comfort, assistance, and feedback.
Our families and current friends may or may not provide us with all the support we need. Therefore, we must be intentional about seeking healthy communities to be a part of. Churches, service organizations, and special interest groups are all potential places to find people we need to help us thrive.
For example, I attend regular writer’s group meetings. This has helped me grow in the skills of writing, but it’s also given me a support group. Other writers “get” me in a way non-writers don’t. We writers provide mutual support, useful feedback, mentorship, and inspiration for each other.
Are you a part of communities that support your quietly unconventional journey? Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to search online for others who share hobbies, past traumas, a passion for specific social justice issues, or similar connection points. Find one and try it out. It just may be the group you need to help you thrive.
Community enriches us
Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.
As I said earlier, I can’t do everything. I need the expertise of physicians, the wisdom of teachers, and the skills of auto mechanics. I also benefit from shared ideas, inspiration, and new ways of seeing things that I wouldn’t have come up with on my own.
For years I met regularly with two critique partners. The three of us had different personalities, different strengths, and we were writing in different genres—this is what made our little community so powerful. We each noticed things in a manuscript the others missed. We each had our distinct “writing superpowers,” and those superpowers enriched the writing of the others. Together, we made an effective team that helped each of us take our writing to the next level.
Do you spend time with others who sometimes challenge your thinking or offer new and exciting vision to inspire you?
Not all communities are healthy
One word of warning. The people we spend time with will always affect us, but not always for the good. People who belittle us, manipulate us, or threaten us will not help us grow. Nor will those who are still trapped in people pleasing, perfectionism, and approval addition.
Pay attention to the influence that those around you wield in your life. Do what you can to limit your exposure to negative groups, and spend as much time as possible with positive, supportive friends.
In summary, we cannot thrive alone
- We are each designed and equipped to play a unique but important part in a healthy community. (Which means we don’t need to be good at everything. Whew!)
- It matters who we surround ourselves with. We cannot thrive without mentors and friends to guide, encourage, and inspire us along our unconventional journeys to wholeness and purpose.
- In community, our abilities, personality, and experiences balance and complement others. When we follow our purpose and allow others to follow theirs, everyone benefits.
- We are enriched by interacting with others, sharing different ideas and perspectives.
- We can choose to listen to those who honor our unique worth and dignity, not those who belittle us or try to manipulate us.
Thank you, Lord God, that in Christ we who are many form one body, with many members who each have different gifts and life callings. You created me to play a specific and unique role within the larger community. Help me find both those who will support and guide me, and those I can serve well.
Schedule time with a trusted friend or mentor. Share the joys and struggles on your heart. Also talk through the Quietly Unconventional Manifesto. Share with them which points you resonate with, and which ones challenge you the most.
Finally, let these words inspire you.
“We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion.”