Community Living

Something I’ve been thinking about.  Living in community.  It’s something that people talk about a lot, they praise it, they say how great it is, but no one really knows what it is, apparently.

When I was in college, my senior year I lived in a quad that showed me the closest thing to living in community that I have experienced.  We had “quad time” every other week, and it was amazing.  We would play games, watch movies, go to dinner, worship, or just talk about our lives.  We got to know each other.  We prayed for each other.  We listened, and we knew each other.  If something was going on, we worked together to fix it.  We heard each other out.  We worried about each other and we cared about each other.  But we also had our space.
I remember when my grandmother died I went to the house of a guy I was dating, and one of my quad-mates kept texting me to make sure I was okay, and to make sure I was coming home.  She was there for me.

When I graduated from college, I was planning on moving to Portland.  A friend of mine hooked me up with a pastor friend of his who has a communal home and had an opening in August, when I was planning on moving up.  We spoke on the phone and he explained that they lived in community.  They weren’t okay with people just living in the house, they had to be a part of the house.  Food was shared unless specifically stated otherwise.  They ate meals together.
This scared me, having strangers be part of my life.  And it ended up falling through anyway, I didn’t even move to Portland.  But that was living in community.

I am aware of another living situation right now, that people keep saying is living in community.  However, some of the people who keep tossing that word around don’t even live in the house.  There are people in the house that are forgotten, who are not included, and who have no voice.  They  need their space, but it is never given.  They ask for silence, and it just gets louder.  They want to be left alone for a while, but are instead intruded upon.  And whenever they do speak up, they are beaten down and overruled.
How is that living in community?

A community is defined as people who live in the same area, with the same interests, working toward a common goal.
So this house’s goal must be to force people out.
Well, they’ve gotten their way.

Welcome home.

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About Hope

I tend to remember everything.  More specifically, I remember almost every conversation, especially minor ones, that I have with people.  As of late I have learned not to bring up old conversations, because the speaker usually doesn’t remember saying the things that I remember.  But I digress.  

I once had a conversation with a good friend of mine, Aaron.  I was 2.5 years ago, and my mind was still pretty messed up.  I wasn’t sure how long I would be metaphorically “sticking around” then, but I had a little bit of a grasp of what I would do if I got through my ish.  I had an answer for everything, even in my brokenness.  I was pushing people away in a successful manner.  Throughout our conversation Aaron noticed something.  He then asked me where my hope was.  I had no answer.  I had no answer, because I had no hope.  Even though I was in Bible college, doing my best to follow a God who I felt was betraying me, I had no hope.  My hope was not in God, even though I desperately wanted it to be.  

Fast forward a few years to where I am right now.  For church on Sunday we made s’mores and had community time.  We separated into groups around the four separate campfires and we told God stories.  I had on my heart a need to share where I had been and how I got to where I am now.  I talked about how I had always had a plan, and now that I have no plan I am more content than I have been in a while.  My sharing sparked an ongoing conversation, and some prayer and some vulnerability.  One of my roommates, Gus, went on to point something out to me.  He said that it seemed that for a long time I have had no hope in my life.  When I had a plan, I had no hope.  But now, he said, I have an evident hope.  Even though I have no idea what my life holds, I have hope.  

So maybe when I have plans, I put my hope in them.  If I have learned anything in my life though, it’s that if I don’t get my hopes up, they can’t be let down.  Now that I have no plan, I cannot be let down.  My hope is in God’s plan, and not knowing what it is makes life a little bit more of an adventure.  And I want to be in love with adventure.

Two Weddings, Two Days

I went to two weddings this weekend; one on Saturday and one on Sunday.  One in Mammoth, the other in LA area.  It was a lot.  But this isn’t so much about the wedding as it is about my thought process and laughing at myself and realizing that things can change, and that they probably need to.

Before I moved to Mammoth instead of staying in Nevada City, I had kind of written off attending the wedding in Mammoth because I already knew I would be driving in order to go the wedding in LA, and I was closer with those people.  However, seeing as I was living in Mammoth and the wedding happened to be taking place on the property I currently live on, there was almost no saying “no” to going.  And I went.  The weird thing is, even though I grew up in this area, I don’t have many friends here.  I left them all behind when I left this place behind, and most of them have moved on with their lives as well.  Now that I’m older, I don’t even remember how I used to make friends.

So I went to the Mammoth wedding on my own, and sat with someone that I kinda knew from high school.  I changed into something more comfortable for driving, and then I went to the reception, committing to one hour.  But the reception was in a small church, and it was packed full with people.  I was getting claustrophobic and my social anxiety was acting up, and I was also anxious to get on the road.  One of my roommates was standing with some people I know, and they all knew I was uncomfortable.  Because they thought it would be funny, they all crowded around me, which was funny, but also made me have a minor panic attack.  I started crying, but I was laughing at the same time.  It was ridiculous.  Then I went and stood by another one of my roommates who was supposed to film the entrance of the bride and groom.  However, when the bridal party came in, they had nowhere to go except right where I was standing, which put me in the center of everything.  I backed out and hid in the plants.  This whole experience was rather traumatic, but later gave me a reason to laugh at myself.  What are you if you can’t laugh at yourself, really?

At the LA wedding, I was completely comfortable and content, and I had all of my old friends around me, but there was so much catching up to do that it was draining and almost overwhelming.  Everyone commented on how tan I have suddenly become, and I had to explain the whole story of moving to Mammoth and postponing Portland far too many times.  I’m glad I went, but I am so tired and weddinged out, I almost never want to go to another one, even though I have two more this year at least.

In all this driving and wedding traveling, I had a lot of time to think.  I laughed at myself for the ridiculous situations I put myself in, and I realized I have been accepting my anxiety as a part of me that cannot be changed.  I laugh at myself over it sometimes, but in reality it is nearly crippling.  I should be able to go to crowded places or parties where I don’t know anyone and not feel like I’m falling apart.  Why have not been trying to fix this?  Why have I not asked God to take it away?  Why have I simply accepted my disabilities as something God made me with?  I think it’s time that I grow up, because things should probably change.