Faith, Prayer, Relationship

Community: Live in Community

Morning light on flowers

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I sat at my kitchen table, golden light filtering in. My back door slid open to let in the cool of the morning. As I closed my eyes I heard chickadees singing, dogs barking and a baby crying. Soft sunlight glittered on the puddles of last night’s rain storm. Piano music played from my computer.

As I listened to the noises all around, felt included in our community. 

Window with shade

My suburban neighborhood is filled with people doing life. Couples, older and younger. Children scootering up and down our street. Dogs barking and racing around their fenced in back yards.

I live in community.

The question is, am I a part of it?

Many windows

I don’t know many of our neighbors. In all honesty, I have not made the effort to know all of our neighbors. Sometimes, it’s easier to focus on my own life. The struggles with the kids. The husband who travels for work.

Sometimes, I close the windows of my soul, drowning out the noises of lives around me. At times, the effort to keep my soul’s windows open feels too great . . . to hear of the pain others are walking through.

Snow covered window

At times, I’m overwhelmed by my own hard. To reach out to others in their hard feels like more than I can do.

Here’s the thing, though. When my “windows” are closed, I’m isolated. I’m cut off from those around me. When I’m so focused on my own “stuff”, I’m neither inviting others in to walk with me—to live in my space—nor am I pouring into others’ lives.

Rain drops on window

God created us as interdependent creatures. He knows the journey we will each walk. God knows the difficulties we will face. He created us to walk them with others. In community. God wants us to look to Him to help us through our difficulties.

The Lord shows His strength

God is our strength. But often, the Lord shows His strength when He encourages others to walk alongside us. He invites us to let others into our lives.

When I open the windows of my soul, I hear the hurts others are walking through. I can pray for them. For some, I can walk alongside them.

Cross in the window

Can I help everyone? No. Nor does God call me to. But, when my windows are open, I am aware of what’s going on in the lives around me. Then I can pray about how to help others. And, I can pray for them in their hard.

We live in community in different ways.

When we choose to wall ourselves off from those around us, we open ourselves up to the enemy and his lies. We become easy targets. And the enemy will fire arrows our way.

sunlight presence

Maybe we can all work on opening the windows of our souls and listening to life being lived around us.

Being in community offers protection. It offers encouragement. And it offers fellowship.

What about you? How do you live in community with those around you? How are you intentional about growing community around you?

Click to Tweet: God created us to walk through difficulties with others.

Today I’m linking up with Holly Barrett

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21 thoughts on “Community: Live in Community”

  1. Great post, Jeanne!

    My physical community is pretty much confined to Barbara and the dogs. We know our neighbours, and while we’re always ready to help in any way (well, Barbara can) we don’t socialize with them. The life-paradigm differences are pretty wide, and there are few topics for any sustained conversation.

    My real community is online, and that’s something of a blessing. Here, I can let stand a finished product. You know me through my words, and I can work them to speak the essential truths of my soul. But if you saw me personally…you probably would not be pleased, because even before I got sick I was a grim, unsmiling, serious-as-a-heart-attack man of very few words. I can get by on about one word an hour at a party.

    And I like the word ‘serious’ much better than Barb’s take…’scary’.

    So, yeah, digital community’s way cool!

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    1. Andrew, As I wrote this, I thought about you and your unique community. Though your physical bearing may come across as stern, your online presence conveys encouragement and hope. I know for a fact, your digital community is most grateful for your presence!!

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  2. You’ve really described me today as well, Jeanne. I have tendency to “close my windows,” and live consumed in my tiny world. Thank you for this encouragement to throw the windows open wide in community with neighbors and friends who are different (and inconvenient).

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    1. Michele, I think it is so easy to live consumed by our own small lives. Maybe we can both become more intentional about reaching out to the community that encircles us. And, I know what you mean about those friendships that often take a little more of us than we sometimes want to offer. 🙂

      Thanks for your transparency here, Michele. I always appreciate your thoughts.

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  3. As much as I love community, and I do, after reading your words I realize that I out parameters on what it should look like. So I choose community on my terms instead of allowing it to flow naturally. I thrive on relationships and authenticity but I need to keep the windows open more often and let God lead me in a way that honors Him. Community is an interdependence and as a believer it is allowing God to open our eyes and soul to the love that is everywhere.

    Great post today! Blessed to be in community with you.

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    1. Mary, like you, I have put boundaries on how high I’ll open my windows, so to speak. I believe some boundaries are good. But, I confess, at times I’ve used them to avoid certain situations. I’m with you. I need to be more sensitive to God’s promptings, and to follow where he leads. SO glad I get to be in community with you, too, friend!

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  4. Getting to know the neighbors can be intimidating. The other day, I was sitting with our across the street neighbor and her daughters (my age) as we watched the kids biking. They got some bad news and I felt awkward, like I should leave. But that’s community, too, isn’t it? The good and the bad…

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    1. I know what you mean, Annie, about that awkwardness when a bit of real life creeps into an acquaintance-level relationship. I agree . . . community happens and grows through the good AND the bad. Great point, friend!

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  5. A neighbor’s home on our road burned down last year, and I’ve yet to talk with them. Because I didn’t know them beforehand, I was afraid to go to them, knowing the stress and strain they were in. But I prayed for them, on my face. Their home is being rebuilt right now, and I can’t wait to go visit them when I see them moving in. I’ll feel more confident because time has gone by, and I know their hearts are healing. But what a lesson for me. I’ve been getting out and walking more … it helps to meet those on my road. I want to be there in the good times, so I can be there in the bad times.

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    1. Shelli, I’ve been in that place too. Where something so hard happens, and I don’t feel like I have the right, or the comfort-level to step over and offer help. I hope that God gives you opportunities to bless them. Just meeting you and being in your kind presence will be an encouragement to them. Like you, I want to be there in the good and the bad times. Thanks for sharing your story.

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  6. So agree that God does not call us into isolation, but made us in the image of Him which is relational! It takes us being intentional sometimes to build community for sure. I have been intentional, setting goals even around building community with facilitating large gatherings and events, however did have to take a step back as I was getting my identity wrapped into the people and their view of me rather than God. So community has grown a bit smaller in this realignment season! It is about being present, isn’t it?- to our surroundings and the spirits promptings at each moment of the day. Such great photos to to compliment your beautiful writing.

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    1. Isn’t it funny, Lynn, how us (we?) A-type personalities can make a plan for something (like building community) without ever genuinely engaging in it? I’ve been there too. And sometimes, when I’ve started out to do something with the purest of intentions, something in the doing waylays those intentions and transforms them into something about self.

      I would definitely agree that there are seasons where our communities will be smaller, of necessity. God sometimes prunes so growth can happen in new (God-directed) ways.

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  7. Community is a tough thing for me. I am such an introvert by nature, I tend to prefer a very tight knit group, which more than not includes the folk in my four walls. That’s especially true because of past wounds and unreciprocated friendship. But your’e so right – God brings people into our lives to lift us up, encourage us, and help us learn. Sometimes I find I have to force myself to embrace that – to open those windows – and let God do His best thing for me.

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    1. Tiffany, I can imagine that community is challenging for people who are introverts. I like a tight-knit group too, though I’m probably more extroverted than you are. Past wounds and unreciprocated friendships can definitely make us gun shy about reaching out again. I’ve walked through some of that too. I’ll be praying as you open your windows more. I imagine God’s got some wonderful, surprising things in store for you. 🙂

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  8. Beautiful photos Jeanne. Keeping the soul open is not easy; sometimes it seems like more effort than I have energy for, but I know the energy is lessened when I allow Holy Spirit lead me. Sometimes He also allows me to close the windows and rest in Him.

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    1. I know what you mean, Mom. There are times when I don’t have the energy to reach out to another. I guess, when God prompts us to reach out to another, we need to trust He’ll give us all we need for that relationship/interaction. And you’re right, we should be reaching out to others, but we also need rest. Great reminder!

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  9. Community is hard, whether it’s the person across the street, or your church family. I grew up in a pretty social neighbourhood, and everyone used their front porch as a place to relax and socialize with each other. Not now. Everyone is too busy putting up physical (and the wood kind) fences. As I get older, I have become more open to a sense of community whether it be at work, or around my home or people who go to the same church as I do. I do feel a sense of community around these people(s), and I think now as ever it’s so important to cultivate these type of relationships. You might not open up as you would with family or close friends that you trust, but having some kind of tangible connection is something that is easy to forgo. It reminds me of my relationship with the Lord, and it’s all too easy to let that relationship go astray with all the demands on us today. Great post and reminder to stay connected to others!

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    1. Tamara, you’re right. Our neighborhoods have changed so much since my (our) girlhood days. People drive into their garages, close the door behind them, and seldom sit on the front porch, waving at the people passing by. We’re so busy about our own lives. We don’t want to take the time to listen, to see if someone might be hurting, might need a word of encouragement. I’m as guilty as the next person of this.

      I love that you’re reaching out and creating community with different levels of connection. I think community happens on different levels. As trust grows, the connections deepen.

      And, yes, our relationship with the Lord needs tending and time and attention too. May we both grow in getting a handle on our lives’ demands so that our relationship with the Lord stays strong. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  10. Loved this challenge: “Maybe we can all work on opening the windows of our souls and listening to life being lived around us” Jesus chose a community, an imperfect one, at that.

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