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Real Community

by Jenny Marrs, Miss August 2015

JMarrs Community Post

Sunday nights have been set aside. We have stumbled through two years of finding sitters, preparing meals, and rushing {the Marrs’ are perpetually running late, it’s our thing} to show up by 5 o’clock. 

Each week, one of us opens our home and the others arrive bearing salad or bread or brownies. The kitchen becomes a flurry of activity and lighthearted chatter as we work around one another reaching for plates, stirring pots of soup, or pouring drinks. We share a meal while catching up on the new home or the teething baby or the teen going off to college in a few weeks. 

These evenings have become sacred. We have walked through the storms of life together, we have celebrated together, we have prayed mightily for one another. Within the safety of four walls and these people, tender stories have been shared. We have laughed and cried and sang and rejoiced. These evenings can’t be manufactured. The deep well of friendship that exists among these people, my people, is as real as anything I’ve ever experienced. 

Some nights find us watching football or sharing stories that leave us on the floor doubled up in laughter {in my case, I mean that literally. As in, I literally fall on the floor laughing}. Some nights, we sit quietly as one shares heartache or betrayal or fear. We pray. We hold one another up. 

During our two-year adoption journey, while our sick daughter was prevented from coming home, these friends carried Dave and I through the pain and the unknowns and the fear. They were our steadfast rocks. I will forever be grateful for the ways they fought alongside us, held us while we sobbed and prayed for miracles. 

Here’s the thing: this is special. I get that. This little tribe of ours is unique. Yet, we all need this type of community. When this world gets turned upside down and the noise is deafening, we need to step away from the clamor and enter in to real relationships with real people. We need to sacrifice our time and our energy in order to make relationships a priority. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought it would just be easier to stay home on Sunday night. Yet, every single week, I’m grateful I stepped out of my door and made the time to connect and listen and share. I walk away refreshed for the week ahead. 

Jen Hatmaker says it so well in her new book For the Love, “We live in a strange, unprecedented time when face-to-face relationships are becoming optional. It’s tricky, this new online connectivity, because it can become meaningful and true; it has given way to actual friendships I treasure. But it can also steal from friends on porches, the ones who truly know you, who talk about real life over nachos. Online life is no substitute for practiced, physical presence, and it will never replace someone looking you in the eye, padding around your kitchen in bare feet, making you take a blind taste test on various olives, walking in your front door without knocking.” 

Please hear my heart on this: I adore this online community here at ARWB. It is meaningful. It has a real place in our lives. Yet, it is no substitute for in-the-flesh friends that we can walk through life with. 

Even if it’s scary, invite someone over. Set a day of the week. Prepare a simple meal and connect across the table. If you’re new to your city or town, invite a couple of people that you think would make good friends. There’s no special formula here. Sometimes, the chemistry just won’t be there. Sometimes, the conversation will be awkward and the silences will not be the comfortable kind and that’s okay. Just keep at it. Keep on opening your door and placing food on your table and asking others in. You will find that the effort to make relationships a priority will absolutely be worth it. 

And most importantly, be real. Share your heart. Be honest. Be authentic. Don’t try to make a complicated Pinterest-worthy meal or ensure your house is perfect before opening your door. Real is refreshing. Real says, you’re welcome here. 

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6 comments

    • Jenny Marrs says:

      We also recently moved to the country and do not have neighbors. It is the one thing I truly miss about living in town. I love the community that naturally develops when you live near one another and can have an impromptu conversation on the front porch. We have to be much more intentional (and often it is harder) now that we live here in the country. I couldn’t agree with you more.

  1. Jamie says:

    Love it! I think the AWBU retreat also reinforces this. We have a great time online but the in-person stuff is truly what’s special.

    • Jenny Marrs says:

      Yes! I loved the retreat weekend. It’s funny because I wrote this post several weeks ago and didn’t realize it would go live the day after AWBU. 🙂

  2. So very true, and a needed reminder. Our small group takes summers off, and it’s so sweet to get back together in September. We’ve been together through weddings (a clump of them in a few weeks’ time), deaths (ditto), cancer treatments, and all manner of celebrations and losses. We pray together, laugh together, cry together, break bread together. God created us for community.

    And you’re right, Jamie, our annual retreat is a sweet face-to-face time we can’t fully experience online.

    • Jenny Marrs says:

      Yes, it is so sweet to get back together after a break. And, a break is often needed especially during busy summers. I’m so glad you have a strong group to rally around you during the good and the hard times. It truly is important and worth the time investment.

      The timing of this post makes me smile as it was published right after our weekend together. Appropriate:)

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