Sunday, October 18, 2015

How to Find your Community

Fresh out of college and 2 months into our marriage, Jacob and I moved 10 hours away from our home in Missouri to Lubbock, Texas. 

Talk about an adventure.

This was the first time we truly lived away from the comfort of friends, family, and familiarity.

Let me tell you; we were lonely. So we began our search.

We tried newlywed Sunday schools and newlywed small groups. We scoured Lubbock, Texas for Christian friends. We even went as far to hang out with the couple on Craigslist we bought our refrigerator from.

We dove into the friend ocean expecting to find treasure.

But all we found was insincerity, exclusiveness, and disappointment.

It was hard, and it felt like it was never going to end. We were tempted to give up and to crawl back into our friendless hermit shells.

But in the end, our friendship pursuit paid off big time.

Through our church we were introduced to other Christian couples who were also looking for meaningful connections, who thirsted for truth, and who wanted to grow in their relationship with God.

Us, and two other couples are still meeting a year and a half later, and they have changed our lives for the better in a hundred different ways.

We often talk to them about how obvious it is that God orchestrated our group. Each couple needed solid Christian friends to go through life with, and we all needed each other at the same time. 

I want this for you too, and I know you want it for yourself as well. 

But how do you actually go about finding these special people? If it seems impossible, don't worry. I was in your situation just a while ago, and the frustration is still fresh in my mind.

It's not impossible. With God working for you, nothing is out of grasp, especially meaningful community.

A Game Plan for Finding Your Community

Last week I shared the importance of sharing our struggles.

But if we're not already connected to other Christians, then that advice means nothing.

So, this begs the question: 

How do you find community in the first place?

1. Pray about it.

Jacob and I searched for an entire year for a small group. While we did, we were praying to meet the right people. Prayer is a must when you're searching for your Christian counterparts. Prayer is powerful and sets the stage for God being the one to orchestrate your group.

2. Find people in the same stage of life

While it is important to spend time with Christians younger and older than you, when you're looking for friends, the same stage of life is crucial. For instance, if you have kids, and they don't, your schedules look completely different. Not to mention, what you're struggling with is much more relatable when others are going through the same thing.

We found our small group at church, so I would suggest starting there. You have a built in supply of people to draw from. Other sources would be your work or a volunteer organization.

3. Don't be afraid to say "This group is not for me"

Jacob and I tried out a number of other groups before finding ours. None of them were for us. We either didn't connect with the group or we just couldn't meet at the times they wanted to meet.

Besides the 3 core couples in our group, we've had 5 other couples, in a span of 1.5 years, that came to our group and left. No one left on bad terms, but they felt as if they could grow better elsewhere.

You know what? This is ok. No hard feelings. The original 3 couples are growing exponentially in our faith and in relationship to one another. It's healthy and growing. 

If you find you are just not into the group you've been trying out, it's ok to leave.

4. Don't give up.

If you're weary of looking for a group, stay steadfast, my friend. It can be a long journey to real and meaningful friendship. I want to encourage you to  not give up. You're so close to success. Don't you dare give up now.

5. Once you find your people, stay committed.
It is incredible how quickly we take for granted what we once longed so desperately for. Once you find your people, don't take them for granted. Remember, you get out what you put in when it comes to relationships.

It is also easy to start putting other life events before your group. Remember, life is all about priorities. Trust me, putting your group as a high priority is life-giving. You might think you're too busy. But everyone is busy, and those that make their Christian relationships a priority are so glad they did.