Tuesday 9 March 2010


Last night was another wonderful night of studying the Bible with a small group of friends from our church. As always, the evening was made even better by the presence of our children amidst us. No childcare needed - just a group of people who occasionally glance down to smile at the children playing at our feet. Every time we get there, the boy and his friend start squealing and jumping up and down before grabbing hands and running off to play with her toys or chase each other around the house. As we start our prayer and study, the kids quiet down (as quiet as a couple of toddlers can be, anyway!) and the babies sit on their mama's laps or nurse at their mama's breasts.

We're quite the collection - a few couples of various ages and several single university and seminary students. It's not a "mom's group" or a "couple's group" or a "college group" or a "parents' group", and yet no one frowns at the giggling children or asks the nursing mothers to cover up or leave the room. (How will breastfeeding ever become the norm in our society again if we continue to hide away in bathrooms, spare rooms, or vehicles whenever our babies need to nurse, as though we're performing some "necessary evil" in feeding our children, something shameful, something indecent, something to be covered up? Society needs to see breastfeeding mothers doing just that - breastfeeding!) It is so encouraging as a mother to be openly welcomed into a beautifully mixed group of people, and to have my children welcomed along with me.

This is what we have been searching for - a community that we can be a part of. People bound not by some common age or stage in life, but rather people of all ages and stages bound by love for each other and love for our Saviour. People who can be honest and real with each other, cry in front of each other, share our struggles and joys and triumphs with each other, learn from each other, and pray for each other.

I'm not an outgoing person. I'm an introvert, and painfully shy on top of that. I'm pretty happy to sit at home all day - but I know this is not how we were designed to live. We were designed to live in community. Community, though, is no longer easy to come by. Raised from birth to be "independent", we have become a society of individuals who pride themselves on relying on no one but themselves.

How's that working out for us? Not so well, I'd venture to say. Staggering divorce rates suggest a distinct lack of healthy married role models. Youth seek connection in sexual relationships before they've even reached double digit ages. Mothers are so overwhelmed by raising children without support that they resort to leaving their babies to cry because they just can't handle it anymore. Increasing rates of post-partum depression further decry this isolation. We were not made to do it all on our own!

Where are the older married couples to guide and encourage the younger? Where are the close family relationships that meet a child's need for connection? Where are the sisters, mothers, aunts, grandmothers, and friends to help the overwhelmed mother with the tasks of raising her children and running her household? I want these things for my children. I need these things for myself!

And so, homebody that I am, I seek community. I seek it for myself, I seek it for my marriage, I seek it for my children. And in this jumbled collection of Christ-followers, I have found it - community, in all it's raw and heartfelt beauty.

I have found it elsewhere, too. Online communities, like the wonderful ladies at Gentle Christian Mothers, have helped me through these early years of motherhood. A smaller online community that I have been a part of for the past few years, consisting of beautiful ladies like Melody, Adrian, and Nicole, has provided friendship, accountability, prayer support, challenging discussions, and a deeper study of God's Word. Blogs and message boards have allowed me to keep in touch with friends I've moved away from (like the lovely Trace), form new friendships (like the inspiring Karyn), and delve into a wealth of information (like the infamous Annie of PhD in Parenting).

Finally, far-flung though they may be, we seek community in our extended family. We may no longer have the multi-generational family under one roof, as was (wisely, I think) done in the past, but we can maintain those important connections despite the distance that separates us.

It may not be as easy to find community as it once was, but it is no less important - perhaps moreso, even, in the society we have become. Intentional community requires deliberate action, time, effort, vulnerability, honesty, and grace.

And for some of us, it means putting aside our introvert ways and pushing through our shyness to reach out to others - for the sake of ourselves, our families, our children, and our society.


  1. Yes this is exactly spot on ! We do all need community. I know this is what my heart has been seeking for a long time. I pray that God will help me find this sort of community and will help me to overcome those fears and insecurities that I still hold onto. I'm so glad that God has allowed you to find such a group.

    I think you are onto something about our lack of community as a whole compared to high divorce rates. Would you mind if I shared this with my pastor? We (my pastor and all the members on FB) were having quite the discussion earlier about changes that need to happen in our church. I think your description of community reinforces the thoughts I shared earlier with them.

    Thank you so much for your kind words. I value our friendship and connection so much.

  2. Your friendship is so important to me as well, Melody.

    Yes, you may absolutely share this with your pastor. It's encouraging to hear your church is discussing changes that need to happen.

    I hope that you, too, can find a close and sincere community in your life.

  3. Wonderful post. We do need community. It's a shame it can be so hard to find these days.

  4. what a lovely post cynthia! (and for the kind words!)
    I seem to be still searching for a community like the one you are now a part of.... it sounds lovely! I'm so happy for you!

  5. Trace, you were the one person I really connected with when we lived there. I miss you so much! I'm glad we've found a caring community here, but I've yet to find any one individual that I connect with the same way as I did with you. Jacob still asks about your little boy, too - it makes me want to move back there as soon as we can!! Thank you for your friendship, it means so much to me.

  6. This is a beautiful post and exactly what I long for. i'm so glad to hear you found such a wonderful community of people. :)

  7. This is a great post, and I so agree. I remember going to a midwife appointment with my Mom when she was having my sister and seeing a poster that said "It takes a village to raise a child". I remember at 11 that made a lot of sense to me, and it continues.

    I just really think you hit the nail right on the head with this. We are striving to find a community in our new church. It's something I think we all do crave although I do have an introvert/shy issue as well.

  8. I'm so glad you have found a nice group of friends. You are so right we need community. I desire that so much. I'm also real shy and it makes it so difficult to reach out to others. I'm working on it though.

    I have been & continue to be very blessed by your friendship Cynthia. You have helped me in more ways than one. I love you sister in Christ.

  9. This has been on my heart for some time! It's so important... mmmmmm. I think you would really like a book that my husband and I just read. It got us moving in the right direction and renewed my passion for following the Lord!

    it's called "irresistible revolution" by shane claiborne

    it's nice to know that there are others out there that are desiring to really follow Jesus!! Love the Blog