Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2011? What community would you like to join, or connect with more deeply in 2012?
Community was something that I frequently craved throughout the past year. In the beginning, I believed that I had found it through my dorm floor, due to the fact that we were all writing majors of some kind. And while it helped bring a lot of us together initially, it seems like all too often we focused on our personal differences other then honing our craft.
For a short time (and I mean really short) I longed to join a sorority; I wanted the sisterhood aspect, the nearly full social calender, and the overall perks that come with being part of that kind of organization. I didn't even make it past the first round during informal because my GPA wasn't of the minimum requirements. Thus, I could not do formal for the second time around either. Down the road, I understood that it just wouldn't have been a good fit for me, personally.
It turns out that the best place for me to find community was the last place that I expected it to be: a community of faith. It started with a Bible study in a dorm room on the other side of campus and as of right now, has taken up the majority of the activities that I participate in.
I call it unexpected because when I came to campus in August of 2010, I wasn't sure what role I wanted church, faith, or even God to have in my life. I attended two main organizations on and off for about a month, but nothing about it felt right. I had trouble connecting with others that were involved because they all came off as these "perfect" Christians (even though I knew in my heart that it was probably further from the truth). I couldn't relate to the messages that were being given in the Sunday services because it wasn't where I was at in my spiritual journey. Eventually, I convinced myself that maybe I didn't need that kind of thing anymore. I could just pray to God when I felt like I needed to and somehow that would sustain me.
But truthfully, it didn't. For the last three and a half months of my freshman year, I was emotionally lost. I felt people reaching out to me, but I didn't know how to grab on.
In the beginning of sophomore year, I felt the need to try it again. I went to the prayer group and Bible study during the week. I tried out the church services, and frequently came out of there moved to tears because of how close to home the topics hit. I've talked with and have gotten to know a lot of different people. And I consider those kind of connections to be one of the main highlights of the first semester.
It was with that community that I began to slowly tear down this image of perfection that I had worked my tail off at keeping in place. For the first time, I learned how to be real with people. It wasn't simply because they accepted me, but because I felt comfortable. It's like that "warm blanket" sensation that I once described in another post.
Most of all, I felt refreshed and at peace.
Being part of the Intervarsity community has been such a blessing, especially during the difficulties of the last three months. Not only has it allowed me to develop more of a spiritual foundation, but I've learned what it really means to just listen; that I don't need to necessarily go spilling out my life story in order for other people to get to know me.
And from that, I have learned that I need to be able to connect with others and have close relationships in order to thrive. I don't have specifics in mind, but I know that I want to continue to have growth in my current relationships as the New Year begins. I want to be open to learning from others, as well as teaching.
Community is very much a part of human nature. It doesn't necessarily have to be faith-oriented, but find something that feels right. You never know the changes that can take place, both with yourself and with people around you because of having that kind of support.