Cultivating Community

  Tiffany  January 17, 2014   2 Comments

One of my goals for this year is to be more intentional about cultivating community in my life. Honestly, it’s something I haven’t been so great at the past couple of years. Sure, I see many people I love at church throughout the week and at events, but I haven’t been consistent with making much of an effort outside of that. At least not as much as I would like.

I have this terrible tendency when I’m going through a hard time or when I’m hurting to want to draw back into my little shell. I have a feeling that I’m not alone in this (can I get an “Amen!”?). I think it’s something that a lot of us do. We think that drawing back and building up walls will protect and heal us, but in reality it does quite the opposite. Isolation is a silent killer.

cultivating community

When we isolate ourselves from others, we quickly begin to feel lonely, and when we feel lonely we begin to think that no one cares, and then that can lead to depression and a myriad of other things that are really based on lies. Basically, we were not created to live life alone.

The Lord God himself said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18) I know this scripture is referring to a man/woman relationship, but I think it applies to so much more.

Jesus led the perfect example for us in how to live in community. He surrounded himself with the twelve disciples, and they did ministry together, but they also just lived life together. That is what we were created for, to live life together…not alone.

In our culture today and with the prominence of technology and social media, it is easy to feel a false sense of connection. We go onto Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest to fill this void and this need for connection with others. That is not true connection. I’m not against all of those tools…I think they are great, when used in moderation and in the right ways. But I long for the day where we spend more time interacting and connecting with people face-to-face than with a screen.

One thing that may hold you back from connecting with others is that you feel like you don’t have any good friends nearby. I completely understand. I have moved a lot in my life, especially during my high school years. In the course of four years, I went to four different high schools. It was hard. I was shy and I liked the friends that I grew up with, I didn’t want to move. But I also wanted to have friends where I was.

I’ll never forget the time I was talking with my mom after one of our moves about the fact that I felt like I didn’t have any friends. She told me, “Tiffany, if you want to have a friend, you’ve got to be a friend.” That simple conversation changed my mindset on friendships forever. (Thanks, Mom!)

Even when you are the new person somewhere, you cannot put all the pressure of connecting and initiating a friendship up to the other person. That’s a lot to expect of someone. But instead, we all need to take the initiative to be a friend to someone. BE the kind of friend you want to have, and I am sure that you will be blessed with that kind of friend in return. It goes back to the whole “you reap what you sow” concept. Pretty nifty, if you ask me. :)

Creating a sense of community in our lives with the people around us takes work. It doesn’t just happen. It’s something we have to tend to and cultivate, much like a garden. It takes effort on our part. But don’t give up…keep planting those seeds, continue tending to those friendships, and I promise you it will be worth it!

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like living in isolation. It’s kinda stinky. So, let’s all make an effort to cultivate community in our lives.

What are some practical things that you have done (or would like to do) in order to build community and tend to the friendships in your life?

  • Alycia Turpin

    Amen! When I first arrived in Redding I walked around where I lived and introduced myself to those around me. I found people with common interests and put myself in a place to encourage them in that area. When I’ve found myself hiding in my shell I intentionally look around to those around me and smile. Recently that has brought a lot of people to me, because a genuine smile means you’re a safe, fun person to be around.

    Loving your blog, Tiffy!

    • Tiffany Zajas

      Yes! Those are amazing suggestions. You have always been great at connecting well with people and making them feel loved. You are ALWAYS a safe and fun person to be around.