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!