The longer I do life, the more I see flaws with how I’m living it. I’m not sure the blame is wholly mine, though; some of the ideas that flow through my mind seem to flood our society, as well. Somewhere along the way we got this idea that we could do it all–careers, marriage, parenting–and do it alone.
For a few years now, I’ve craved community. I’ve wanted to move past the casual ‘hellos’ and enter into meaningful relationships with my neighbors. I’ve wanted to form friendships with my small group that continue when they leave our home on Sunday night into the rest of the week. Some of those relationships are taking root, and I realize now that true friendship takes time. It can’t be rushed, and it must be nurtured.
I’m also realizing that what I desired in relationship with my neighbors and friends in my community was too shallow. I looked for companionship, friends to lend an ear or girls to sip coffee with me, but I didn’t look for help. I thought my life–my marriage, my kids, my housework–were mine alone and fellowship fell outside of that circle.
I was wrong.
An elderly woman moved next door to our family. I’ve driven her around town, showing her the closest supermarkets, and taken her meals. I check in on her when I haven’t seen her in a few days, and the kids bring her birthday cake when she doesn’t feel well enough to celebrate with us.
The other day, though, she showed me that I need her. My daughter was running around, acting hyper and disobedient, and Ms. JoAnn simply said, “Sometime, I’ll have her over. I’ll talk to her and let her paint. She’ll enjoy it.”
At that moment, a switch turned on in my mind. I do not need to raise my children alone.
I know that Matt and I are ultimately responsible for our kids, but we are not the only ones who need to pour into their lives. I don’t need to feel guilty that Caleb has learned some things at school that I never would’ve thought to teach him. I don’t need to hold onto the idea I need to figure everything out on my own.
I need Ms. JoAnn as much as she needs me.
I was given confirmation of this idea a couple of days later when my son asked if he could play with one of his neighbor friends. This friendship is new, so I walked over to the house and told the mom that her son could play at our home. The kids spent 20 minutes together that flew by in a flash, and then I walked this little boy across the street from whence we just came so he could have dinner.
His mother thanked me. She thanked me for the 20 minutes to decompress without two kids running around–she needed that time emotionally. Hearing her tired voice I understood; we need each other.
Somewhere along the way, we lost this idea. We lost the idea of a community who is genuinely involved in each others’ lives. Perhaps, the growth of our towns is partly to blame. I don’t have to see a neighbor on any given day if I don’t want to. I get in my minivan that is parked by the garage (not in the garage, mind you, but the garage could fill a whole other post), and drive to school or the store or the gym–a minivan that I need given the fact that our town has very few sidewalks, and nothing I need is within walking distance. I come back home and enter through the garage again. If I don’t want to socialize, I don’t have to. If I want to be left alone, I can.
But we are not supposed to do life alone–even Jesus surrounded himself with 12 friends. He took 3 with him during those dark hours before his crucifixion and asked them to pray. Why, then, do I feel I must do my life alone?
It’s not that I’ve never asked for help–I will never be able to repay my mom and sister for the times they’ve babysat–but I need to change my mindset about who can help me. I need to redefine ‘community.’
I need to open my home to my neighbors when milk is spilled on the floor, and the dishes are piled high. I need to let those I trust see me when I’m on the verge of tears. And I need to call on my neighbor when my rope is unraveling and get rid of the pride that says my kids are my problem.
We all have gifts to give–it’s just taken me 33 years to realize that it’s okay to receive those gifts, as well.
Linking up with Michelle and Jen after another blogging hiatus. I’m not sure if I’m going to give all the details of this break, but just know that life at the Davis household is a little crazy right now–and with Matt out of town again, I can definitely use prayer! Have a great day!
14 thoughts on “What I Need (And You Probably Do, Too)”
Oh how I love this and need this. I too have stuck my neck out there when it comes to forging friendships. I chalk up the SAHM friendship world to dating…am I wrong? You put yourself out there risking rejection! Crazy, but true! But with this, I have learned, is accepting other women just as they are, and asking for help. Or take the help when offered, this one is toughest for me.
Anywoo, I could go on and on about friendships as it seems this is an area of my life where I am continually growing.
Glad you posted. I thought just yesterday, "where is Jennifer…" 🙂
You're so funny! I actually was thinking about you today–I thought “the first date went well, but I guess the timing was off.” 🙂 I look forward to summer break; I'll do a better job with my on-line relationships then (and I'd still love to actually meet in person again!)
Welcome back! I was just thinking about you this morning wondering if you were taking a break and there you are! And you know I'm a dummy. A few weeks ago Matt had a conference in Atlanta and the kids and I spent the day downtown. I should have gotten in touch with you to get together.
I agree. We need community. I don't agree with Hillary Clinton on much but this, she knew: it takes a village to raise a child. Will be praying for you as you parent by yourself a little longer.
Man! I would've loved to meet you in person! I'm sure you'll be down this way again, though; just don't forget to look me up next time! :)I thought about Hillary Clinton when writing this post, too. Someone pointed out to me that it took Jesus' parents three days to notice he was lost because the community functioned together, and they figured he was with one of the relatives. I thought that point was interesting.
good words here…I think you are so right that we give but don’t want to receive…and true fellowship…community has to have the blood flowing both ways. Blessings as you press through this part of life…grace upon grace with your hubby out of town…i remember:)
Thank you for your kind words. Two days down; two more to go! 🙂
Oh, friend! Do you know that just 2 days ago, I started wondering about you, realizing that I hadn't seen you in awhile. So, of course when I saw your sweet face on my blog this morning, I jumped at the chance to come say "hi!"
I love your words about community — they strike the very core of my heart and my passions. I am grateful for the Ms. JoAnn's in my life and I pray that your community would grow deeper and richer by the day. Blessings to you, sweet friend.
Thanks for commenting, Jen. I've missed being part of your community, too. I think once summer break gets here, I'll have an easier time getting up early to write. As it is now, I've put too much on my plate in addition to the Davis craziness that has hit our home, and my body is refusing the 5:00 wake-up call. I'm aching to get back into more consistent writing!
Thank you for this post! I struggle sometimes to remember that not only I can't do it alone, but I am not even supposed to 🙂 Thankful that God made us to live in community with one another. So glad I stopped by from SDG! Blessings to you my sister!
I'm a perfectionist and seemed to succeed when I put my mind to something and worked hard. For the first time in my life (now that I have three kids in the mix), I realize that that's not the case–I need help, and that's okay. Sometimes this lesson is hard to learn, but, boy, I think we'd all be better off if we learned it. Thanks for stopping by!
I love this. I am awful with words, so I love it when I read something that I would say if I could! I have missed community so much since moving to Kentucky. Friendships do take time!
Hang in there, Lyndie. James and you are great people, and you will build those friendships. 🙂
It seems like the problems we all face are rarely unique. I needed to hear this as much as you did.
Thank you for sharing!!
We need you! 🙂
Glad you're back.