Not quite a year ago, several of us gals gathered at Kara’s house for fellowship over brunch and coffee. I had Von and Ann with me, as usual, and I was doing that familiar dance of trying to drink a cup of coffee and carry on adult conversation while a 1- and a 2-year old hung off me, clinging to me and asking for more strawberries and basically demanding my undivided attention.
At some point, I abruptly realized that the babies weren’t clamoring for me anymore—I looked up to see them eating strawberries with Heather’s assistance. She was oohing and aahing over them, making sure their needs were cared for. She was engaging them, asking questions, and striving to make them feel safe talking to her.
Friends, I hardly knew Heather. At best, I had met her once or twice. And here she was taking care of my children so that I could have a few precious moments of uninterrupted conversation with Kara. What a gift.
Heather saw my struggle to juggle caring for my babies with engaging my friend. She silently stepped in and filled a need; she loved me without even knowing me, simply by noticing me.
That’s what community does: Community says, You are seen, you are noticed, you are known. You are valued, you are liked, you are loved. You are worth caring for and you are cared for.
Heather acted out community toward me before she even knew me. What a simple, sweet representation of the gospel in my life.
And yet, this is what all of our hearts long for. That’s why it hurts to be picked last for a team for kickball in gym class. That’s why it’s painful to not be asked to Homecoming. That’s why it’s hurtful to visit a church and have no one speak to you. Because we all desire to be seen and known and loved. And we desire this because we were created for relationship.
I love Paul Tripp and Timothy Lane’s book, Relationships: A Mess Worth Making. We are reading it in our women’s group at church because I think everyone should read it! Anyway, they talk in the second chapter about how God created the world and Adam. God looked at it all and said it was GOOD! It was beautiful and perfect. Yet, even in his perfection, Adam was not complete. God said it was not good for him to be alone—he needed companionship, a friend, an ally, a partner, a spouse. So God created Eve. “Genesis is not speaking primarily to Adam’s experience of being lonely as much as it is revealing his nature as the person God created him to be. Because God created a communal being—someone designed for relationships—creation is incomplete without a suitable companion.”
Wow. I hope that is affirming to you. So often our culture makes us feel weak or even pathetic if we say we need other human beings in our life. We aren’t always allowed to speak up and say, “I can’t do this journey alone—I need people beside me to help me, sometimes hold me up, share a joke with, celebrate my baby’s birthday with me, give input into our marriage, go to chemo with me, speak truth to me when I need it, be a safe place when I am wrong or have been wronged, teach me, invest in me, share Thanksgiving dinner, allow me into their hearts and be welcomed into mine.”
The first night Aaron and I met Jason and Kara, we were all meeting mutual friends for dinner at our favorite restaurant. Von was a brand new (NICU) baby, and I was very,very nervous taking him out. I remember many things about that time together, but one thing made an eternal impression: When I walked to the table, Jason stood up. He took the diaper bag from me, pulled my chair out before even Aaron could, and helped me get situated. I sat down with tears in my eyes—this person saw me. He noticed us! And he moved toward us. Here was a dad of four who understood the challenges of new parents out with their tiny baby and who was willing to take a moment to help.
I had no idea at the time the journey we were about to embark with him and Kara, but I could have told you that I was ready to go; being seen and noticed and engaged speaks to the most basic needs of our hearts. A need that God designed, because ultimately, He will fulfill it. And He wants to fulfill that need! He sent his beloved Son to suffer death so that He could have relationship with us, Immanuel, God with us. The beginning, middle, and fulfillment of community.
Do you have community? Is there someone in your life who has seen and noticed and engaged you? How can you reciprocate that? Is there someone around you who needs to be seen? What can you do to reach out to this person and communicate to them that they are seen and worth knowing?