Community has been painted as a ‘kumbaya’ portrait where everyone gets together with smiling faces, bonds over a campfire story and then feels warm and fuzzy after a perfect night.
Well community doesn’t always look like that. Community has its “bonfire nights” but it also has its rough patches that many are not aware of.
At the surface level, a community may be holding hands and posing for fake laughing pictures. But in reality, if you want to pursue a deeper community, you must realize some truths about community, including the following:
1. Community hurts.
People are imperfect. BOOM. I know that’s a shocker. Someone is bound to get their feelings hurt in a community.
Humans mess up so many times a day that we honestly are not worthy of the simple pleasures in this life that we so abundantly enjoy. But most of us get to live another day – another day of pleasure, another day of hurt and another day mixed with both ups and downs.
Nevertheless, it is important to recognize if you have hurt another person and apologize. Genuinely listen to why the other person felt offended or betrayed. Look within yourself and see if there is something inside of you that needs to change as a result. That personal change may not be necessary just to better serve others, but also to better yourself in general – everyone benefits.
2. Community suggests honesty and vulnerability.
If we truly desire to be in community, we must let people in.
There is nothing more toxic than to claim that you are in community with people, but then those very same people tell and keep secrets from each other. Those secrets and those cliques mean that there is a lack of trust and communication in the community. It means that something is seriously off with the community and it needs to be addressed ASAP. Otherwise, the tension in the room will build up and it could be years before any progress is made, any conflicts are resolved or any growth happens.
Be honest with yourself and be honest with others. What’s the point of having a community if everyone is fake and not committed? If no one is willing to share what is on their heart – to share what makes them happy and what breaks their heart?
3. Community implies inconvenience.
Being involved in a community sometimes means that you have to give of yourself even when it is inconvenient. You should expect the other members of your community to give of themselves as well so that it is a mutual reciprocal relationship.
Go the extra mile for your friends. It feels good to know that people care. And guess what? Sometimes others will not notice the sacrifice that you made for them and that is okay. It’s O-K-A-Y. If you truly acted out of kindness, then you should be fine that you did not get recognition. Not every act of kindness deserves a medal. (However, if the lack of appreciation becomes a continuous problem, then a sit-down honest discussion may be necessary).
4. Community requires a common vision.
This may be the most important key to community success. If this isn’t true, then none of the other 3 points matter.
Unity is not just something that is felt. It’s something that is seen.
For a community, a unified vision needs to be conceptualized and pictured together. A vision needs to be fleshed out and agreed upon together. The vision needs to be enforced from within and enjoyed from without. The vision should be what holds the community together. It should be a safety net to fall back on in the midst of stormy times.
Community is necessary for us as humans. We all need a group of people we can count on and live life with. However, keep these 4 truths in mind. Community is not something that can be idealized, it’s a real thing that can have real problems and requires real work. Be mindful of that and enjoy the people around you!