In 2007, after living in Boise, ID for 8 years, my family decided it was time to move back to Idaho Falls. My wife had recently graduated from college, her sister was having health problems and my mother lived there as well. It just seemed like the best thing for our family at the time.
During our time in the Treasure Valley, we had bought a house and put down roots. Consequently, although it was fairly easy to move to Boise, it was a going to be a lot harder to move back.
My wife was able to transfer her job easy enough, so her and the kids packed up and moved over to Eastern Idaho while I stayed behind and began to prepare the house for sale. This would prove to be a time consuming and difficult task.
It took me two months of working in the evenings and on weekends to get as far as I did. But, I still had a bunch of stuff that needed done before the house was truly ready to put on the market. At the rate I was going, I needed at least another month to get everything done. Problem was, I didn’t have a month.
I had worked out a job in Idaho Falls, and only had one week left.
I didn’t know how I was going to finish all of this stuff. It all seemed overwhelming. I began to feel discouraged. And, since my family was 300 miles, i was beginning to feel all alone as well. Then, something wonderful happened.
My neighbor came and asked me if I needed anything. I told him of my plight, and how much time I had to get these things done. I said I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it. It seemed hopeless at best. He looked at me and said that he might be able to get some help from some people at his church (he is a member of the dominant religion in this area) and to give him till tomorrow morning to see what he could get done.I was thrilled! The thought of help, any help, would be a blessing to me.
The next night, he had managed to get no less than thirty people to come and help with what needed to be done. Painters, carpenters, plumbers, people with big trucks to pull up dead tree trunks. If you can think of something that could need done on a house, there was someone there that was able to do it. What would have taken me close to a month to do by myself took less that three hours for everyone to complete. I was blessed. I was humbled. It was a tremendous show of community from people who had never met me but answered the call.
As Christians, We Need to Rethink Community
I have been an active church going Christian for over twenty-five years. I have heard many sermons on many topics. And, quite a few of them have been about community. But, the common theme about community preached from the pulpit revolves around making sure you go to church on Sunday, or bible study on Wednesday. Community means we support the churches various ministries, whether it be benevolence, shut-ins, single mothers, etc.
At the surface level, there is nothing wrong with any of these things. I am not trying to speak out against going to church and “fellowshipping” with one another. Churches who have ministries who reach out to the poor, or single mothers, or whatever should be lauded for having such things. But, I can’t help but think that community means more than this. Perhaps community actually means sharing lives with one another outside the church walls and ministries.
What would our neighborhoods, our friendships, and our families look like if we actually lived in community, if we shared our lives with one another? What if we looked at community as sharing our time, our money, our food, our talents, or whatever with each other? What if living in community meant we did this no matter the income level of the person we are helping?
I know it’s hard in this culture to live this way. We live in America. And, Like it or not, we have a very American way of looking at things. We believe that we are supposed to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. We believe that God helps those who help themselves. We are so afraid of communism or socialism that helping somebody out, whether they are wealthy or not, is beyond our comprehension.
We live in a culture where we are so self absorbed, that we can’t look past our family problems to the greater community. Families are important. In fact, it is the most important aspect of our lives. But this idea of a nuclear family is something that is unique to our culture and I would argue very destructive to our society as a whole. Although I may not agree with the way Hillary Clinton thinks a village should raise kids, I do believe in the concept.
So what does this look like? What am I talking about? Well, the best example is what I opened this blog with. These people didn’t have to help me. I wasn’t financially desperate. I wasn’t a single parent. I was just a guy who was trying to get his house ready to sell. But yet, my neighbor cared enough for me to get the help I needed. That’s what community is. That’s what love is. This is a very real representation of the gospel.
I will Start
All this to say, I am going to stop talking and thinking about this, and put it into practice. I want to start this new year right. I want to learn how to live in community better.
Soo…What do you need? Sidewalks need shoveled? House need painted? Need somebody to watch your kids? Heck, do you just need someone to talk to? I am here. Call me. Text me. Facebook me. I will do everything within my power to help you in whatever capacity you need.
On the flip side, I am going to be asking for more help. I can’t do everything on my own, and I’m done trying.
I am done just seeing people on Sundays. I want to live in authentic community where we truly share life together. It starts today. What do you need?