I don’t think I ever gave much thought to the word “community” until very recently. If anything, I think I defined “community” as “the people who lived around me” (the community of Surrey, for example). Recently, though, I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and my definition of “community” has been given a whole new meaning.
I can safely say that these last few weeks have been unlike anything any of us have ever experienced. As an extrovert, this has definitely been a struggle for me. I am very much experiencing a real-life lesson in the saying, “you don't know what you’ve got ‘til it's gone.”
I didn’t quite realise how much my day-to-day social interactions matter to me. I have learned that the connections I have with other human beings on all different levels actually feed my soul, and to have the face-to-face time with people taken away has been such a loss.
This virus and all that it has brought with it has made me realise I was part of several communities and each community (and the people in them) is an important support network for me. Beyond that, I have also realised how much every human being needs community: the feeling of being part of something, being connected and tied to others, knowing that we aren’t in this alone. How do we reclaim some of what we have lost to get through these difficult times, when we are told to self-isolate and maintain social distance?
Parkland is one of the most important communities in my life. Being among believers who truly care for me like a family member blesses me and my children in ways that can only come from God. And being able to be part of a Community Group, meeting in someone’s home every week to be able to encourage and be there for one another on a more intimate and personal level, has been so important to me.
What I have loved to see during all of this craziness we are living through is how adaptable we really can be under pressure. We have turned to technology as a way to connect, both as a church and in our personal lives. Our Community Groups have been able to still meet weekly on Zoom video chats. Seeing friends’ faces that we otherwise wouldn’t see for weeks has been so encouraging. Being able to meet together and just be in one space, even if it is virtual, creates the sense of community that everyone is missing in these strange times. If you haven't had a chance to get in on a group video chat with friends, family, or a church group, try to find a way. You won’t regret it.
What are some other ways to build community and reconnect? Go through your contacts that you have on your phone and pick someone different every day to call and just check in on. We are all feeling some degree of loneliness and a simple phone call can make a huge difference in someone's day.
Send a card in the mail with encouragement to someone you think might need it. I myself received one of these from my best friend just this week. She even sent it through a website so she didn't have to go to a post office to post it. It meant so much to just receive something that I was able to hold in my hand that showed someone was thinking about me and caring enough to reach out.
Last, but not least, smile. Smile and be as friendly as possible when you are out at the grocery store or walking your dog and you’re passing other people (at a safe distance). The simplest of things like getting essentials at the store has turned into a stressful ordeal for a lot of us. We can’t change that, but we do have control over how we make the people around us feel.
A smile goes a long way; it always has and it always will. That much hasn’t changed. You have the ability to make someone's day a little bit better. Let's all try to be the positivity in a situation where we can very quickly get overwhelmed with the negatives. We are all a community. We are all in this together.