Don’t give up on Community

People make things tricky don’t they? Sometimes it feels easier if you don’t have to deal with human beings as they just generally throw a different spin into things that would ordinarily be straightforward.

Every time I get asked,’What’s the hardest part of your job’? my answer tends to be ‘interacting with certain people’.

As I shared in a previous blog, I do prefer to be alone and go out of my way to avoid people drama. A lot of people assume that I am an extrovert because I love interacting with people but I actually embrace solitude. I don’t view solitude as being by myself ‘ but ‘being alone with God’.

Most people leave or consider leaving shared spaces because of other people.

‘Why did you leave that church’? is often tied to an offence. ‘

‘Why did you leave the WhatsApp group?'(most people can relate to this one I guess LOL) is always due to one annoying poster.’

‘Why did you withdraw your child from that school’ is always linked to a broken relationship between either the parents and authorities or children.

Some children can’t even wait to leave home due to strained relationships with parents or even siblings.

We just tend to rub each other off the wrong way.

Human will & resilience can generally be built up to endure unpleasant environmental elements.However mix unpleasant elements and unpleasant human dynamics and the situation becomes very unbearable and harder to endure.

A submarine might feel claustrophobic but if your passion is being a underwater marine biologist you might endure the unfavourable elements to achieve your goals. Add in a nightmare boss or colleague and the ability/will to cope drastically reduces.

Human interactions are the trickiest, most complex things that we have to navigate in this world. Even moving from being an only child to having a sibling is not an easy transition for little children.Adding and mixing multiple humans into any situation just makes it tricky. Just look even the earliest instance of humans increasing & coexisting in scripture (Cain & Abel),that didn’t end very well did it?

It’s part of the symptoms of the fallen nature of man.

So yeah I get it when people think to themselves ‘you know what I think it’s just better being by myself’ or ‘doing it by myself’ or ‘ I will just seek God by myself’.Let me just spare myself all the wahala(Nigerian parlance for hassle).

I saw a meme once that said ‘Peopling is hard’ It sure is!

More and more people are rejecting the idea of ‘community’ and choose to do life preferably on their own and on their own terms.

Now I get the idea of doing life on your own terms.

The idea of doing it on your own,not so much.

The community I refer to in this instance is not just the geographical space e.g a collection of streets in a neighbourhood etc.

I think this community is also important but the ‘community’ in this instance is defined as the;

condition of sharing or having certain attitudes or interests in common’ .One can even say the geographical community have shared interests as they all live in the same space.

I think the increasingly digital world that we live in makes this a bit easier. People can interact and have access to millions of people from all over the world without leaving their bed.

You don’t have to go to a ‘physical church’ for a sermon.

You can have thousands of ‘friends’ that you have never seen.

You don’t even need to go to the bank(not been in an actual banking hall in years).

I was having a conversation with my colleague the other day about flexible working & working from home .She told me that she worked from home 3 days in a row the week before & because she lives alone she did not speak to an actual person for the whole of the 3 day period.

Just to be clear,I have nothing against online communities. I belong to several and my life has been enriched from being part of such platforms. I think it’s an excellent way to connect with people with similar interests who we would not have had the chance to meet a couple of years ago.

It’s made the world smaller,democratised the press,started revolutions and in its own way has been used as a force for good in the world.

But,there is a very good case for not giving up on community. And by this, I mean situations where we are in each other’s faces and not just talking via a screen.

In church,in school,in the organisations we work in, in the actual localities we live in etc .A lot of studies indicate that a sense of community is important to positive mental health. Being part of a community allows people have a sense of belonging and has been found to be one the key factors for humans finding fulfilment.

My ultimate role model is Jesus Christ. He was the son of God and had the wherewithal to do life by himself but he CHOSE not to.

Jesus got solitude,I mean he was away by himself for 40 days so it’s obvious he could do without humans interaction.

But he sought to build community and interact with humans in our messy flawed state.

He went to people’s houses( there are accounts of him being a guest and him hosting people) & generally liked being with people.He lived with his disciples & broke bread with them.

He even spent time with them after His resurrection even though he had been betrayed by one and was doubted by another. He could have just sent them the Holy Spirit but he knew they needed His comfort at that delicate time.

He didn’t need community but he knew that those communities needed him.

If we are to truly emulate Him,community must be something that we are willing to cultivate as uncomfortable as it might be. We must be willing to accept that we might get hurt but still do it anyway.

This girl here knows how hurtful communities can be.Besides I am very allergic to drama.I go out of my way to avoid it.I am that person who is not able to give you the ‘juicy details’ of a fight because I had probably tuned off.Even with all that, I still think trying to avoid drama is not a good reason to totally give up on interacting and being part of a community.

I know Nigerians in the Uk who go out of their way to avoid ‘the Nigerian community’.And you can’t really blame them anyone who has ever seen glimpses of the ‘cursing telenovelas’ on Facebook( you know the ones I am talking about don’t pretend)or even the drama on Nigerian twitter .They ‘boast’ about how they ‘don’t do Naija people’ but fail to understand that no matter what they still have Nigerian heritage.

Now I am not one to dictate who anyone chooses to associate with but I consider it short sighted to give up on a ‘whole community’ of people just because of some unsavoury ones. Of course explore friendships with people from other nationalities but there is also something about being in a community with people who get you.There are certain cultural nuances that only a Nigerian can truly get and sharing those moments are truly phenomenal.

Some people don’t go to any church at all because they have been hurt by people in churches in the past. No two ways about it ‘church people’ can be very mean. I have no problem with people leaving a church with which they fundamentally disagree regarding key doctrinal/scriptural issues. You can leave a church if you think the values or teachings are not what you align with.I often say I am not loyal to any denomination but to Christ himself.

So my point is not about leaving a ‘church’ which could be the building/denomination/group but neglecting to fellowship and nurture relationships with other believers in any form.

I know people use ‘do not forsake the gathering of the brethren’ to justify spiritual abuse however I do think there is a place for sharpening each other than can only take place within community.

I think we develop the fruits of the spirit through spending time with God but exercise the muscles by relating with others.

Being part of a community can be fun,encouraging,loving,a source of support in hard times,a good place to grow and where we can learn tolerance,empathy and kindness.

I remember how my church community was there when I had my daughter and my mum could not come over from Nigeria.

It was a very tricky time for me especially as I was newly married and new to the country. I know how a mum/toddler community I joined help me face my days when I was a stay at home mum with a toddler and baby in tow. I recall how study groups were such an integral part of studying in University and how it made learning such a well rounded experience for me.

Community in action can be such a beautiful thing to behold.

And because of all these ,I don’t see community as somewhere to draw from but also one to contribute to.

It shapes human interactions and how the world flourishes as a whole.I choose not to dwell on the negatives that comes from relating with others .Life itself is a risk so yes you might get hurt being part of a community .

But YOU, yes YOU have the answer to someone’s prayer.You are the mentor someone is waiting for to accomplish the purpose of God in their life.

On the flip side there might be a person in a community who will do the same for you.In rejecting community in totality,you might never meet them.

I know this might be unpopular but if no one ever hurts us how do we learn the power of forgiveness?

How do you know that you have kindness if there are no people to actually show the kindness to?

If you never have to receive help there is a high chance that you will not see the need to render help. Community fosters the sense of a common goal. And the world would be a better place if everyone played their part in nourishing flourishing communities.

There is a caveat though, and that is not all communities are meant for everyone.And yes some might not serve you well,you might have to leave but even at that please do not give up on it totally.

Have you given up on community?

I would ask that you give it a second chance,don’t give up yet,you never know what beautiful things that might be birth through you and for you within the tribe that you were called to serve and gain from.

We were created and called for community.

Thank you very much for reading and hope you have a lovely working week ahead.

Lots of love

Oyindamola

Quote Photo Credit- Pinterest

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