Live Color Fully

today i am excited about everything.

The Big 3(0): Community

A short series where I write about the three BIG things I’ve learned before 30, in honor of my new decade and turning the BIG 3-0. Which, by the way, happened recently, just in case we’re not friends in real life and you missed the 97 reminders I gave you. So. (Part I here.)

My 30th birthday was the very best day.

I know I say that pretty much 6 to 7 times a week, so it might be hard to take it seriously. But in between the army of pink and the singing telegram that spoke love and the princess pinata and the hours and hours of work that went into making the whole shindig go down, I looked around and realized (again and again): I am the luckiest.

It’s not easy to build community, to expose parts of your life and be willing to put in the time to live inconveniently with other humans. It’s especially not easy when you repeatedly move and start over, roughly every 2.5 years.

It matters, though, doesn’t it? This thing when you discern who stays close and who you only see once in awhile. This thing where…

you choose the people who are a part of your life.

This is something you learn a bit in high school, this whole “How To Choose Friends That Help You Make Good Choices Like Not Doing Drugs” thing. But in the rocky road that is less marshmallows and chocolate and more learning to live life, it becomes.. pretty damn important.

Important: they will be your family as you live far away from your family (more on that here).

Important: they are the ones who speak into your life.

Important: they will speak, and you will actually listen.

At 23, they are the ones who will finally give you the courage to walk away from that terrible guy. They will push you to trust what you hear in your spirit, the part that is truly you, and you will move. In Louisville, you will find the church again. You will feel what it is like to love your job.

There, your new community will tell you it’s scary that he gets so mad and yells. It’s not passion, they’ll claim, and they’re right. And maybe just make better choices about who you date. Sheesh. They will tell you that feminism doesn’t mean walking alone in an alley at night, unless you’d like to be a dead feminist. But it does mean speaking your mind, even at meetings where you are the youngest, even at meetings where you are the only one wearing color, even at meetings where you are the only female. They’re right (on all counts). And praise God, because you will need this later as you navigate the male-dominated ministry world.

And it’s not just the dating (failures). These are also the people who will tell you that when your Creator speaks, you should listen. And no, it’s not crazy to leave all this behind and leap into ministry. And later, they will help you walk through That Time Ministry Breaks Your Heart. You will want to walk away from your calling, but they will help you find the courage to stay.

They will tell you when you’re being stupid. And selfish. And… SIGH… impatient. Mostly that last one. Actually, always that last one.

They are gifts, these few. More than anything outside of the Words of Faith, they will communicate to you what you can’t see yourself.

We’re told: just listen to Self! Look within! Trust who you are! And those things are all nice and true often, right up until they’re not.

There will be times when you are so sure you’re right, and the thing is… you’re not. Sometimes, every so often, you get so buried in what you want that you can’t see reality. And during those times, which WILL happen, it will be crucial, crucial, crucial that you’ve chosen great people to be around you.

You know this now, because it happened to you at 23.

At 23, you almost drowned. Almost. You wanted something so bad that was so bad for you. And without your community, your life would look very different right now.

There will be people that come and go, but the few you choose to walk alongside of, the few you choose to listen to, those few… they are precious. They are life giving. They are Christ, to you.

We can’t do it alone. And (praise be), we’re not supposed to.

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Romans 12:9-10

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Family

Honestly, I love the church.

I know that’s probably obvious. I’ve attended (mostly) from my exit from the womb, and have amazing memories and experiences tied into living alongside of a community of people who love Jesus. And, uh, I give them my time and energy (read: life calling), and they give me money to eat ice cream and buy shoes. So, that’s pretty awesome.

And honestly, I love the commitment the church has made to family.

But. But as an upper-20-something-single-female, can I say something?

I have a family, too.

And I don’t just mean the one that was given to me through my Blue Eyes and Last Name, although that family is pretty sweet. I mean the one my life has formed. Built. Created.

All over this country, every place I’ve lived, there are humans I’ve lived life alongside of. Who I’ve stood beside in uncomfortable shoes during wedding ceremonies, and beside later as I brushed gently the soft heads of babies that were truly hours old. Who I’ve sat with and mourned the bitterness of death, and sat with at Happy Hour after long workdays. Humans who I’ve lived with through inconvenience, through 3 am airport pickups, lugging boxes for a move, through   sitting in the hospital awaiting an answer.

People I have deeply known and deeply loved.

People who have deeply known and deeply loved me.

 

These people are my family.

And while I love that we commit to families growing together, and leading together, and loving together, let’s not forget: Not everyone’s family is the same.

My family may look a little bit different, may be spread among miles and miles, but that doesn’t make them any less of a family. We may belong to each other through memories, and not through blood, but that doesn’t make the commitment any less.

Commitment. Living together despite brokenness. Baring both spirit and mistakes.

And gratefulness. To live among family, whether it fits the traditional definition, or just my own.

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