I have been blessed to always have had some sort of community of friends who have supported me since I can remember. I didn’t truly know what a blessing community was until I was married to my Marine and found myself living overseas – in a foreign land where I knew no one. Life can be hard on any good day and when you try to do life overseas things can get interesting for sure.
The military community realizes how difficult this transition can be so they have put into place what they call the Sponsorship Program – this is where new people who arrive in a foreign land are assigned someone, or a family, who can show them around their new area and get them started off on the right foot. This concept made all the difference in the world to us when we arrived in Okinawa, Japan, the first time, back in 1998. Our sponsor did such a great job at showing us around and we had a great 4 year tour on that little island. And, we are still in touch with our sponsor and his family to this day.
I love this concept of sponsoring newbies and it would be great if more people would just assign themselves to the new people, or families, in their communities and help them get started off on the right foot. Connectors do this well as this is just a part of who they are. However, everyone can learn this great skill.
One thing I believe most military families do is embrace their local community. We have learned that we need each other. We have learned that life is more fun and easier with a great community. And, we have learned to plug into communities, or create communities, quickly as our time at each duty station seems short and the time flies by in a blink.
What is community? Community is usually a group of people who have something in common – they live in the same neighborhood; or in the same town; they are an interacting population of various kinds of individuals; or they are a group of individuals who enjoy doing life together. A lot of communities happen naturally. However, some take a little more work to create and then there are other communities that are forced together – or brought together out of a painful situation.
Naturally created communities would be a group of friends that were birthed out of their common workplace. Or attend the same school. Or met at a function like a workshop or conference. Out of our need for fellowship, some of us search out other communities. Examples of this would be a church, or a Bible study, or a knitting group. And when we can’t find a community we like or want to be a part of, some of us will create a community out of a need or desire – I believe these would be the connectors who would create a community where they didn’t see one before. I have seen this happen time and time again. I will talk more about connectors in a future blog post.
Then, there is the community that you “accidentally” find yourself in – like your neighborhood where you can’t choose your neighbors; or a support group for parents with kids with cancer; or alcoholics anonymous; etc. I do believe, though, that a lot of good can come out of these communities despite that they started out of a painful time in our lives. (I will talk more about these specific categories of community tomorrow as part of my Day Five post.)
Whether we naturally end up in a community; create a community or find ourselves in a community that we would rather not be a part of, community is inevitable. And necessary. So we can embrace this reality or try to dodge it but we can never completely be without community unless we live in a cave; in space; or out in the middle of nowhere.
I have to believe that since you are reading this post that you do not fall in one of the above categories. If that is you than I am grateful you are here to take this “Doing Community Well” journey with me.