It’s officially fall here, so you can expect beautiful 60-degree weather with colorful, changing leaves or 10-degree weather and snow. So. Much. Snow. That’s Colorado fall for you.
As a kid, I always had to be creative with my Halloween costume. Would my princess outfit work with snow boots and a turtle neck? Or was it better just to freeze but look the part? Decisions, decisions.
As a young adult, I loved snow-days because I got to cozy up in a big sweater, sit by the fire and read a good book. Since becoming a mom, snow-days now mean I’m trapped inside the house with tiny humans who have the same amount of energy as they did before it snowed. There is no invitation in their minds to snuggle up, read a book, and gaze out the window as they watch the snowflakes fall. Nope, they almost seem to get more crazy…like caged little animals. And so I panic, and begin looking around the house for ways they can burn off some energy. Before I know it, I have stripped the pillows off my couch, laid them across the floor and am encouraging my kids to jump on them like a trampoline. After a few hours my house is unrecognizable, I’m exhausted and they seem more energized and I’m wondering why the caffeine from my coffee hasn’t kicked in.
So by day two…. I get smarter. Instead of getting stuck inside with tiny humans alone, I decide to be stuck inside together. I schlepp both kids, their 100 pieces of snow gear and a box of mac and cheese into the car and head to a friends house.
It hasn’t taken me long to figure out that in my kids’ minds, more kids = more fun. And in mom world, more kids = other moms. Other moms mean I increase my chances of having adult conversation (though it may take one hour to finish one train of thought between potty breaks, tissues breaks and re-attaching my 3 yo’s Tangled braid to her crown.) And holding your baby crying seems way cuter than holding my baby crying, so let’s switch!
After this particular crazy and fun-filled morning, I rushed out of my friend’s house, in an attempt to make it home for nap time. As I guided the kids towards the car, I called out over my shoulder, “Thank you giving us coffee and letting us destroy your house!” And she responded, “My house would have been destroyed anyway. I’m glad you were here.” Without missing a beat, my third mom friend, smiled and nodded saying, “We are better together!”
Those words stuck in my head as I laid my kids down for a nap and thought about parenting. And then I followed that phrase through all the different areas of my life. My family, my friends, my work, my growth.
Together is messier. Together almost always means conflict. Together means less control. So why do I crave it? Why is it better than alone?
A friend shared this quote the other day:
“You can go faster alone, but you will always go farther together.”
We go farther because shared experience fuels perseverance. Being seen and known fuels stamina within our hearts and our minds. A shared life combats isolation, shame and fear.
By doing life together, in community, we are seen. We are known. And we can flourish. We can combat obstacles that seem too big to overcome on our own. Some days that’s surviving a snow day or a night of no sleep because of sick kids. But other days that’s walking alongside a friend who has miscarried or has to move across town and start over.
Together, we can link arms, and press on when our legs feel that they may give out because the road is too steep. Too rocky. Too hard. Just as the hard stuff becomes bearable with a friend by your side, the sweet moments become sweeter too. Like a newborn baby, a new job, or witnessing your own kids hug each other, by choice.
In community we find connection. As we share our lives, we begin to talk about the areas where we feel vulnerable and broken and we find out our friends have struggles too. Maybe even similar ones to us. Together we see glimmers of hope where our fear whispers, “give up”. Others can see what we cannot and I have found that if I open up about my struggles, it creates a shared experience where God can enter in, and begin to comfort and heal.
I definitely don’t think doing life together is always easier but I’m learning it’s worth it. When things get hard it feels counterintuitive to reach out. I have a tendency to move away from people and isolate myself, building up walls of protection. But isolation is lonely, and my negative voices only seem to echo off the walls I’ve built. So what if there is another way?
God is teaching me that He never lived in isolation and He doesn’t desire that for me either.
It is in movement towards each other that we discover increased stamina & renewed vision because friends see our life with fresh eyes. When I’ve snapped at my kids again and think I’m a bad mom, my friend pointed out that I loved my kids well as I put their snow boots on for the 50th time. Or when I don’t know what to do with my 3 year old’s strong will, my friend gently reminds me that God specifically chose me to be her mom. It was on purpose and for a purpose. Hope feels a lot like sunshine to my soul.
So if you are like me, you might wonder, “Where do I start?” When I first decided to stay home with my kids, I felt like I didn’t have a community of other mom friends. But someone once told me, “Everyone wants to be invited.” So I invited people. To my house, around my dinner table, and to my couch with a cup of coffee. And as friendships deepened, we began to witness each other’s stories as we did life together.
And in doing life together, God uses the spaces of shared experience and vulnerability to breathe hope and healing into my life.
For it’s true, we are better together and have more in common than we think.
Jennie Allen is an incredible teacher on Biblical community. If you are looking for some concrete ideas of how to build community in your life, I’d recommend her Podcast.