What Real Community Looks Like

by Laura on January 12, 2013

We stumbled home after two weeks visiting our families in the East last Saturday.

And we started unloading the car with its sleeping children, and immediately, surprisingly, I felt really really good about myself as a woman.

Not because my hair looked great after 12 hours of travel and definitely not because our five carry-ons (the airlines ask for this chaos I tell you) were neatly-folded after the two weeks of rotating between houses for Christmas. Instead, I felt really good about my togetherness as the manager of the home because when we walked into our house that night, we found it clean, clean, clean.

It was “bring on your white gloves” clean.

So we are unloading suitcases, and Matt and I were congratulating ourselves on how diligent we must have been to pack a family of five the day before Christmas Eve and still have the time to leave the house sparkling– even the inside of the microwave.

But it was the kids’ beds that gave it away. They were neatly tucked in and their stuffed animals were arranged artfully on their pillows. Sign One.

And then I noticed that their books were organized on the shelves, instead of crammed in. Sign Two.

And then, I saw that my son’s candy was arranged on his dresser on purpose, not accident. Sign Three.

And when we opened the fridge, there was pizza and milk and orange juice. And on the counter in front of the coffee pot? A fresh bag of coffee- “Friends” blend, fair trade, supporting women. Four.

And then we glanced outside in our backyard- the same backyard where we had thrown our Walmart Christmas tree with the lights still on it, to be dealt with later.

And that bush-tree that had caused such trouble? That tree that made us vow to never buy a real one again? It was gone from the yard. And there were strings of Christmas lights neatly sitting on a patio table.

And all the sudden, it was so very good to be home.

Because we have  friends that are in our story close enough to know what day our plane was landing. We have people in our lives who give up a Saturday to spray down our microwave and stock our fridge and tuck in our kids sheets so they think they are at a schwanky hotel.

And in spite of the difficulty of living away from our families, we are tasting a community that hauls off a dead Christmas tree, right along with our cynicism.

******

What’s the best illustration of community you’ve tasted in your lifetime? What are your three favorite words to describe it?

  • http://twitter.com/AlisonJoyful Alison Lam

    Loved this! I could just picture the realization dawning :)

    Thanks for sharing, Laura,

    Alison

  • Tamara Ludlam

    What a great testament to “loving thy neighbor”!

  • Melody

    Love this! So happy you are in a place where true community exists. We experienced this on a few levels at a church plant years ago. Similar to you, once we came home from being out of town to a home made lasagna in the refrigerator, milk and some other goodies. Of course there had to be some sass thrown in the mix and so we found kitchen utensils such as a whisk, rolling pin, etc in our nicely made bed and our kitchen table/chairs was exchanged with our living room furniture. But we thought it was hilarious so it was all counted as community. Ha! Another time was when I had major surgery and our church lined up people to come and do our laundry. They told us to put our laundry basket out on our front porch and they would take it home and wash it and bring it back folded. They also cleaned our house and brought meals to us for six weeks. This was hard to receive at first because we were never on that end of things before but it was one of the greatest things that ever happened to us.

  • http://twitter.com/thesistershood Nicole Morgan

    Good deeds for others, bring good deeds to your door … and leave no room for cynicism in that moment … love this post. Joy, friendship and love xxx

  • http://www.mymusingcorner.wordpress.com/ Lana

    Laura, did you make this blog template yourself, or did you higher it done?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Teri-Miller/100000244322626 Teri Miller

    Good grief. How incredibly sweet!!! What a perfect gift, from the hands & feet of Jesus right here in our lil’ ol’ community.

    I was a grateful recipient of that love – this very day. A mug of soothing tea with a long-missed friend turned into vulnerable sharing, and healing prayer. Visions of hope from a loving God; words of truth breathed from my Savior Jesus.

    Like a white-glove-house-cleaning for the soul….
    =)

  • http://www.positivelyalene.com/ Positively Alene

    What a great word! I witnessed community in full swing this past weekend. Working on the inner city I had scheduled a women’s event and as the day approached I was panicking that we might not have enough workers. I was determined not to worry and just continually gave it to God. In the last 48 hours before the Kick-Off I received emails and messages from many I didn’t even know asking how they could get involved in what I was doing. WHOA — that’s community. A community that God brings together.

  • http://www.facebook.com/crystal.mann.125 Crystal Mann Johnson

    My newlywed husband and I live in an 8-plex apartment building and have easily been able to interact with our co-tenent neighbors. One night we had a late night knock on the door and one had brought over fresh baked cookies. Another time the downstairs musician brought my musical husband a cd he created. Also a few times I folded laundry left in the dryer of our shared laundry room when I needed to switch my load. Its been cool discovering community in our new residence as a new married couple. 3 words/phrases would be: relational, self less, not alone

  • http://twitter.com/DayTripper32 Brittany Girle

    we live in el paso, but none of us are from here. we have all moved here at different times to work as missionaries in mexico or as interns with church plants. we live in a big house-ish but hate the crazy christian compound idea that tends to transpire with how we live. we’re all in our 20’s and 30’s. our friends with their 5 and 7 year old kids bought the home and then rented out the basement to 2 single guys, a missionary and a seminary student/church intern and their above the garage apartment to me, a missionary in mexico. they have a family and we are single, but somehow, we have all become one family. their kids are like our own and we are each other’s family. this place was never originally “home” for any of us. it feels like college all over again except there are kids involved now. nights frequently end around the fire pit outside or laughing together late into the morning in the kitchen. and as much as we are surrounded by people that embrace and even preach about this idea of “community” we still get the weirdest stares and questions about how we are actually living. to us though, we have found and embraced what it is to actually be in community and be family and now we wouldn’t have it any other way.

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker

      Wow, what a beautiful story. I can just sorta picture it . . . and in doing that, can picture early Church.

      Thanks, Brittany, for handing this real life image to us . . .

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