The Importance of Community
I come to this empty post with some fear and hesitation, but with some excitement as well. I have had this post(s) on my mind for a while now, and I am now building up the courage to start writing it all out. It’s going to be long, but I will try to keep it fun!
So I am attempting to condense my entire sophomore year of college into a series of posts. I started off with one post, but let me tell you: it would have been a novel-long post. But I still feel called to write all this down.
There were several themes from this past year that God placed on my heart, and this is my written way of putting them all together. Essentially, this is a “What God Taught Me” series starting in late August till now (broken up into lessons learned). So here it goes.
The Importance of Community
Sophomore year, I lived in a single dorm room with my own bathroom. I lived on a hall with people living in single rooms. I had everything I needed in my own little room apart from laundry down the hall. In the fall of my sophomore year, I didn’t really know any of my “hallmates” besides my RA, who ate lunch with me occasionally.
I would spend nights or afternoons hanging out in my room. I would eat lunch or dinner in my room many times, feeling lost when I didn’t know who to ask to get food with me. Not all days were like this, but it was getting to a point that I noticed I was a tad lonely.
I knew I needed to be surrounded by people, but I am introverted in nature, so the peaceful comfort of my dorm room was exactly what I needed for studying and relaxing on weekends.
But something was off. And it was indeed the lack of seeing people, the lack of being able to come home from a long day of classes and just talk to someone about your day. Phone calls to my mom were awesome, but they were not hitting the spot.
I then felt God’s tug and His messages to me during some Intervarsity large group meetings and during our beach retreat last October. We had an awesome speaker during our beach retreat that lasted two days and two nights.
One quote that I remember perfectly writing down in my journal is this: “The height of sin is running away from community.” The height of sin is running away from relationships. From people. From God. From connecting all those relationships together into one breathing, living, fostering community. The height of sin is running away from the relational nature that makes us human beings.
That was one tug.
Another was a different Intervarsity event. The message was about Genesis. In Genesis 2, God creates man in the garden of Eden. In all of his creation, “God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!” (Genesis 1:31). But the main thing that was not good was man’s aloneness. “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” (Genesis 2:18)
So, in hearing all of this, I was realizing how the Lord calls us to be with other people, embrace Him and be apart of community. And a big part of community is the relationship with the Lord that you have. It is the center of it all.
The fall semester into winter was primarily when all of this learning and reflecting was taking place.
It was also during a time where I was making a really hard decision. And in the end, it went along with what God was teaching me and where I needed to be for Him.
I was deciding between accepting the president position for my Christian sorority or studying abroad for the fall 2013 semester. The president position is a year-long commitment, so I couldn’t study abroad in the fall, but I could wait until the next spring semester.
Throughout the fall semester, I was getting really excited for study abroad–I remember thinking to myself that I just wanted to get off my campus and experience something new and different. It was mostly selfish thinking, as I wasn’t liking some aspects of my time at my school (namely: lack of interaction with friends, classmates, etc. made by a single dorm room and my tendency to be introverted). But God had other things in mind.
I wanted to study abroad in the fall. There were so many more benefits to going in the fall versus the spring. I was completely certain at one point that the fall was right. Considering spring 2014 study abroad felt weird and wrong.
But I was slowly considering studying abroad after completing the president’s term. I thought long and hard for a week straight about this decision to serve my sorority sisters or to go abroad, something I always wanted to do in college.
My friend said God placed the president position in front of me for a reason. The nomination was a complete surprise to me at first.
But, alas, I was voted president. And it really showed me that God wanted me on my campus, building community with my sisters and with Elon students and more. He told me to choose community over escaping my school’s bubble. I did choose this university for a reason, so might as well invest my time and energy in the relationships I’m making here.
So, throughout this whole time, I knew that being apart of a community and having the chance to get to know people better at my school was definitely what I needed to do. And I am so excited now to serve my sorority for another semester and to go abroad afterwards. Who says you can’t do it all in college? God can provide so much. So much more than I expected. Accepting the position as president not only has taught me so much, but it led me to serving my sorority through reaching out to our campus and beyond. It brought me to a church and to awesome people. It led our sorority to a partnership with a church. It led me to go to New York and learn more about interfaith. It led me to a community and a powerful community at best.
So now that I chose to invest my time, service and heart into a community, I realized another reason community, relationships and people are important. It might seem simple, but people draw us closer to God. Genesis 1 says the Lord created human beings in his own image. In other words, we bear the image of God. With that being said, that means we have never come across an ordinary human, although we treat each other like ordinary people.
But because we are created in God’s image, we can learn something about God from every person in the world.
This concept completely changed my outlook on community and relationships. And it leads me to my next “lesson” from sophomore year: the power of unity, which I will talk about next!