Healthy Community

Yesterday I had the privilege of hanging out with a really neat group of people.

I used “neat” in that sentence with absolute innocence, and now that it’s typed all I can think of is the “Neature Walk” video. He’s really neat. Feel free to pause from reading for a moment and watch this neat video:

OK. Back on track.

So yesterday I was with a group of folks who make my heart happy. We’ve been hanging out for multiple years and have children of similar ages, and quite a few things in common.

As I was driving home, I thought about the blessing of community. When you have people who pull you out of your everyday, who give you the privilege to participate in their lives and you give permission to participate in yours, it is a really BIG DEAL.

I think we all grew up thinking that community is easy to find because there are people all over the place… but in reality, a true, healthy community is rather scarce.

I can remember driving home from a club meeting for the kids and crying a little because I’d been in the room for about four hours without a single person speaking to me (yep, I could have made the first move so it’s my own fault in a way… but man, it was lonely).

Nobody did anything wrong. They just didn’t reach out. Why? Maybe they didn’t like me, which is what insecurity told me. Or maybe they’d had a long day, an argument with their spouse, an unexpected bill, a stomach ache… or really anything else going on that kept them from prioritizing outreach. That’s just life.

In contrast, the group of folks I was with yesterday, although they are pretty diverse in their interests, goes out of their way to reach out to folks. There was a new gal. Before we left I saw at least four people engage her in conversation, find out a little about her interests, smile at her and include her in conversations.

That’s why they’re so NEAT.

I ran across this article a bit ago Why the Average American Hasn’t Made a New Friend in 5 Years | NYPost.

I have been known to blame the increase of technology use on a decrease of ability to pursue interpersonal relationships. I like to put this out there as though the problem is everyone else, but the reality is that I am part of the problem.

Since having kids… I vastly prefer to text rather than have a phone conversation. (The speaker on my phone gave out last week and I’m seriously struggling with whether to get it repaired/replaced, partly because if the speaker doesn’t work… I don’t have to talk on the phone anymore!)

Texting isn’t exactly an ideal communication tool, friends.

One of the reasons our home education journey the past eight years has been so closely tied to a specific organization is because I loved the friendships I’ve made that were deepened every week when we met together with our kids.

Friendships are pretty neat.

This article, as well as the changes we’re pursuing in our home’s educational model, has made me think on the importance of a community of like-minded individuals. I feel like a healthy community is a really big deal for the long-term success of home education efforts.

I’m did a little research and discovered this article, 5 Signs of a Healthy Community (Watermark Counseling). Here are the items of healthy they identified in the article:

A healthy community is Authentic, Inclusive, Outward Focused, Members Accept One Another, Supportive of Members and Provides Accountability.

“A healthy community is willing to listen and learn from one another, even when members disagree on things. Instead of taking offence, they respond with empathy and love.”

I want to be in healthy community. At the same time, I’m a little gun shy and have been analyzing how you identify an unhealthy community! For every ying there’s a yang, for every ray of sunshine there exists a shadow… so if healthy community exists, unhealthy community is present as well.

These are the musings of the day today… nothing earth shaking, just learning how to sit in quiet with thoughts and let ideas marinade. I hope you have a really neat day, with neat people, in a neat environment, and are exposed to lots of NEAT things!

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