Sacrifice #2 – Community
What comes to mind when you hear the word community? (I hope the first thing that pops to mind doesn’t revolve around a televisions show, but I won’t judge you if it does.) For me, this quote by Wendell Berry portrays my view on what community is (and should be):
“A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared, and that the people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other’s lives. It is the knowledge that people have of each other, their concern for each other, their trust in each other, the freedom with which they come and go among themselves.”
I experienced true community for the first time while in college. I often reflect on how incredibly blessed I was to live life with so many amazing people. While I think I knew that once graduation had come and gone my community would change I didn’t fully comprehend just how much it would change, especially in such a short amount of time. As I transitioned into grad school, the community I was a part of looked very different. And, as I transitioned from grad school to full-time work, it changed yet again. Thankfully, I was still in community with people whom I cared about and who cared about me including friends from college, family, friends from church, and even some colleagues from work. While different, the community I was a part of was solid and something that I took for granted during my time in Oregon.
In making a thoughtful, prayerful decision to pursue my career and take a leap of faith, which ultimately led me to California (and now to Austria), I often reflected on how things might change. However, I don’t think I really gave enough weight to the role that community had played in my recent life experiences. In a sense, I didn’t really know what I had until it was gone.
Since relocating to California, I’ve had amazing opportunities to work on projects that are increasing my knowledge, skills, and abilities. Along with those opportunities I’ve been able to travel throughout Asia and Europe. I can’t even begin to complain about this. It truly is an incredible experience! However, the tradeoff that comes with these projects and travel are very real to me. Since moving to California last September, I’ve spent around half of my time away from home base. The reality of this is that I have had little to no time to seek out a solid community to be a part of (at least in person).
Over the past couple months, as I’ve traveled to various parts of the world, it has become very apparent that the way Corporate America operates is drastically different than the way Asian or European business runs. Every time I travel to a different site I am in awe of how close people seem to be. They not only work together, but they share life together, care for each other, and are concerned about the well-being of the people they interact with day in and day out. I think Corporate America has a thing or two to learn from the way business is done in other parts of the world, at least from a people perspective if nothing else.As one transitions from adolescent to adulthood, a logical place that one might seek out community is with his or her colleagues. While I do enjoy the people I’ve had the opportunity to work with, I often feel like the relationship I have with them is purely surface level. And, unfortunately, the way Corporate America has defined business it can be difficult to break down the walls that people put up. Often these walls exist to protect from any number of situations and circumstances that are present in the world of business. After all, American business is essentially based on the theory of “survival of the fittest.”
So, while the choices I have made recently are preventing me from living in community. I have a newfound appreciation for it. I never would have guessed that during my time in Austria, I would have spent more time in community with those I interact with than I did in the States. In fact, I was preparing myself for a pretty lonely summer (throw pity party for self here). However, yet again, the lessons I am learning and the perspective I am gaining are changing me, for the better!
Where are you at in relation to community?
Are you a part of a strong community? What did it take to get there?
Are you seeking a community? What has your journey looked like so far?
Are you not in community? What’s holding you back from starting the journey?
We’re all at different places in life, but that’s what makes it so great! We can learn from the experiences of others and come alongside those that we care deeply about (and even those who we may not yet know that well).