Case in point: Yesterday I wanted to make date nut bread and realized I don't have a loaf pan. I texted Gail and asked her if she had one. She texted back that she had two and she could drop one off. She walked over (because she lives a 5 minute walk from us), dropped it off and sat down on our floor with her son and stayed to chat for another 2 hours (or so). This is our life in Korea. I love this aspect.
Our entire small group from church lives within 15 minute walking distance from our home. Our church is a less than ten minute walk. We see these same people as we walk errands around town, at the market, in church on Sundays, in small group on Tuesdays, in playgroup on Wednesdays, at the park in the evenings and often for get togethers on Friday nights and holidays. We serve next to them in the nursery, at moms group, in the youth group, at outreach events and in the community. We can't easily get away from them and they see us on the good days when the house is clean and we're showered and in good moods and they see us on not so good days, when the house is in shambles, we are exhausted and crabby. They are there for us when we are acting like we believe the Gospel and when we are acting like we don't.
We have community around us All. The. Time. We can't get away from it and I think that is good. Too often it is easy to put on a face when you go to church or when you see friends. It's easy to act like you have it together and things are going great, even when they aren't. It's easy because you don't see people every day or every week or every month. It's easy to pretend. It's easy to seem "together." It's easy to live a lie (or at least a half truth). It's easy to be someone you aren't. Although this is often what we/I want to do, I don't think it is good. It's not good for us, it's not good for our families, it's not good for the church and it's not good for our souls.
All of this hit me last weekend when we were hanging out with the Lantz family for a last minute - "hey what are you doing for dinner?" "I don't know, what are you doing?" "I don't know,want to come over?" "okay." type get together (again, how frequently does this happen in the states? not as much when you have to drive 40 minutes one way to get to someone's house).
The 4 kids were playing happily in the living room,
Jason was jamming out,
everyone was enthralled,
Jason was loving on Caleb,
Steve was loving on Isaac,
and the mama's were chopping veggies and cooking dinner in the kitchen.
It wasn't anything fancy or special (well actually, it WAS bulgolgi cooked by a wagook so maybe it was kind of special), it was last minute, it was low key, it was community.
Now this isn't to say it's all perfect. It's not to say we haven't been hurt or disappointed. We've actually had our fair share of hurt feelings and mistreatments since moving here. It hasn't been perfect. It has been messy. At times I'm not sure I agree with the statement "relationships - a mess worth making" but overall I would say it is good. If nothing else, I can feel my refinement happening. Sanctification never feels great, right? I am humbled often. As I feel frustration or hurt, it drives me to realize my own imperfections, my own failings, my own shortcomings and drives me to deeper levels of grace - both the giving of it and the need for it.
Community here on earth will never be perfect but (I believe) will always be needed. We weren't meant to live alone or to fight the fight of faith in solitude. We are sinners, interacting with sinners and that will never look perfect or feel perfect. But despite the imperfections, it is still needed -- needed to refine, needed to sanctify, needed to help us fight and to press on. "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."
Wherever you are, whoever you are, whatever your life looks like, I encourage you to find a community to take part in and to be a part of....don't live this life alone, it is so much sweeter and richer and fuller when lived together.