Let's just talk about yesterday, shall we?
My husband left around 7am to drive to Charlotte for a presbytery meeting, and I got the kids ready. Liv (5) had a dentist appointment so we were going to drop Eliza (3) at preschool, along with some cookies for Liv's teacher because it was her birthday. Liv was VERY excited about her teacher's birthday. After the dentist appointment, my plan was to drop Liv back at preschool (her preference) and then go (with Piper (1)) visit some of the magnet school options available to us for next year. Kind of a busy morning.
I decided to take the kids, my coffee, and our backpacks out in waves. First I took Piper and my coffee. I strapped her in, and reached over to turn the car on.
Click. Click. Nothing.
I slumped over the seat and tried again.
Click. Clickclickclickclick. Nothing.
I got Piper back out called Duff, and looked around to see who was home to come jump my car. I ended up asking a surveyor working down the street because...he was the first fool to make eye contact. (He was SUPER nice. It was very cold and his hands were shaking and he was SO SO KIND.)
So we got the car going, got the kids and the backpacks and the coffee, and got to school.
I left the car running while I took the kids in to give it a chance to get a little more juice. When we came out, I decided to make sure the driver's side automatic door was closed all the way. The door needed repair; after struggling on its track in cold weather, it finally got stuck open earlier in the month the night before we were supposed to drive home from Jacksonville. We "fixed it" so it would close, but it wasn't operable anymore. Duff and I planned to get it fixed soon. You know, like sometime this century.
I slid the the automatic door switch to "off" and opened the door manually. I slammed it shut and the back end FELL OFF.
Like, the front of the door was engaged, and the back of the door was inches above the ground.
WHAT IN THE WORLD IS THIS REAL LIFE WHAT THE HECK DO I DO.
(That and more.)
I called Duff and gently explained that I JUST PULLED THE DOOR OFF OUR CAR just before he had to walk into the most important meeting of the day, where he had to speak. I was on my own, which was fine. I can handle this stuff alone, I just prefer to do it with him.
I took the kids inside and asked if they could hang out while I figured out WHAT EXACTLY ONE DOES WHEN THE DOOR TO THEIR CAR IS NO LONGER ATTACHED.
I texted a few friends and one headed my way, but then I saw 2 preschool moms I knew still in the parking lot. I went over and interrupted. "Hey, so um, I just pulled the sliding door off my car, is there anyway one of you could hang around while I figure out what to do? I don't know...what to do."
They both said yes, absolutely, and we spend the next hour making phone calls, swapping carseats, debating about which route was the safest, and oh yeah PUTTING THE DOOR BACK ON. I got on the inside and helped guide it from there and they lifted and pushed and slide this part that way until we got it engaged again. Sort of.
One of them rode with me, holding onto the door (for real) while we took the van to the Honda place the other one knew about.
After dropping the car off, they took me home, and one of them brought my girls home from school. They absolutely saved the day.
So yesterday was a very vivid example of what happens when you ask for help, when you engage your community. In my case, it meant I got home, with all my kids, instead of huddling, confused, in a car with one door hanging off.
But here's the thing - it isn't always that straightforward. Building community takes time and you can't wait for it to come to you.
My husband and I have talked about how the first few years after college can be really hard for everyone, but for Christians it can be confusing because up until that point, there has been a staff person assigned to getting your attention. As a child, it's a Sunday School teacher. In middle and high school, it's youth pastors and leader. In college, it's college ministries like RUF, Cru, Navigators, and so on. And then you graduate, and suddenly, no one's chasing you.
I mean, people invite you to things, and hopefully when you try a new church, someone notices and invites you back. But for the first time, you're truly tasked with connecting with a church community.
And to build community, you have to show up. You have to engage. Maybe you have to drive a stranded mom across a bridge holding her sliding door in place. It's an extreme example but an example nonetheless.
It takes time no matter where you are in life - recent graduate, new-to-town, new mom, mom with older kids who just switched schools, mom going back to work after several years of staying home, mom staying home after several years of working, mom going back to work after a painful divorce - everyone has to show up if you want to get community.
And as awesome as it was, you don't have to wait for the door to fall off to ask for it.
Where can you show up this week? What community to you need to commit to? Where can you be available for others? Can you take me to pick my car up tomorrow? Just kidding. (But seriously.)
Connect with Kristi at her blog And Babies Don't Keep where she's giving away a set of eco-friendly sippy cups that DON'T LEAK. God answers prayer, people.