Summer is officially here! It’s the perfect time to be outside, eat a nice juicy slice of watermelon, take a break and…build community?
If you’re a people-person like me, you know how necessary having good friends is. Even if you’re more introverted like my husband, we all have a vital need for community. We’re hard wired to need each other!
Extroverted as I may be, finding people to share day-to-day life with hasn’t always been easy. There have been times full of change and challenge: leaving high school for college, making the shift from single to married life, feeling the sudden isolation of becoming a stay-at-home mom, being without a car or any expendable income, and, most recently, starting at square one after moving halfway across the country.
We need each other. We need the wisdom of elders, friends to laugh with, someone to share our sorrows; we need people to challenge us, we need friends for our kids, we need a cup of sugar! It’s a central part of life, but it’s not built in. We have to work for it, but what an incredible and worthwhile payoff!
So, how can we use the summer to build community (to give and receive life and love)? I’ll tell you what’s worked for me!
- Just say hi! It may seem obvious, but sometimes we over think things. A whole neighborhood of families was opened up to us just by pushing a stroller and saying “hello” on walks down the street. (If you don’t have a vehicle, you probably spend a fair amount of time walking, so try to see it in a new light; you never know who you might meet!)
- What’s happening in your town? Is there a moms group/storytime/community garden/volunteer program/etc that you can be a part of? No? Maybe it’s time to start one 😉
- Go to the same place each week (a park, a public pool, even a grocery store). Being a “regular” can be a great way to meet someone who lives nearby and who may even keep a similar schedule.
- Take dinner or a treat to a new or single mom. She may be aching for an adult conversation or need a few tips for getting that swaddle just right.
- Drop in on the widow who lives across the street. She might not get out much, but she may be a real live wire just looking for for someone to swap stories and recipes with (she can show you, over a plate of her famous Swedish Rye Bread, her certificate from the police thanking her for the use of her garage in a sting operation…true story).
- Have a living room or a kitchen? Even if you don’t have a yard, you can still make room for kids and parents to play. You don’t have to be Martha Stewart to spread out some newspaper and crayons or turn the sink into a mini splash pad! Everyone can bring their own snacks and, next week, someone else can host!
- Host a potluck or “progressive” dinner or lunch one Saturday or on a Sunday after church. This way the dads can meet each other too!
- Plan a Moms Night Out. Everyone needs a break sometimes, so send out an email or stick a note in your neighbors’ mailboxes, then meet up for coffee or wine or head to the batting cages! It can be as cheap as you want it to be–I’ve had plenty of great nights out that cost less than five dollars. Just do something fun!
This is how we build relationships. They don’t start out deep, but you have to be around people to get to know them. Some of my deepest friendships have started in living rooms and kitchens, on walks around the block, and yes, by literally borrowing a cup of sugar.
I’ve learned that in some seasons you may do more receiving than giving, but that God will always find ways to bless others through you. I’ve learned that, behind our fears, we all share this desire to live with purpose and to find others who long for the same. I can tell you from experience that God uses us and everyday life to reveal His heart. What can you bring to your community this summer?