Last week one of my daughters told me it was the first day of Spring. I said no, I don't think so, then looked at my phone a few minutes later and saw post after post welcoming the new season. Whoops! Thanks, PBS kids for making my children smarter than I am!
One thing I've learned is to expect changes in rhythm when the seasons change. I know we're not to summer yet, but as we step into spring, I'm already noticing that the flow is a bit different. Soccer season opened this weekend, and baseball/t-ball too. Instead of huddling indoors, people head out to the park, and eventually the WATER park, and the pool.
Communities change too, don't they? Sometimes in the winter, you end up spending more time with your close friends because they're your go-to playdate people. On the other hand, if you're new to town or without many connections, winter can make you realize how lonely you are. I've experienced both.
And now, as we bust out of our houses, the same kind of thing can happen. On one hand, you may feel so much more connected as you show up to the park, or soccer practice, or simply out in your own yard with neighbors all around. Or, you may feel like the only parent who doesn't already know someone on the team. You may sit on the sidelines both wanting to make eye contact and desperately trying to avoid it. I've experienced all of that as well.
So what do we do knowing that changes in rhythm, place, and community are coming? Well, there are plenty of answers, but I'm sticking with these two:
1. Don't share anything online that you haven't already shared in person.
This is really important in today's digital age. When things get crunchy, as I like to say, it's easy to retreat into the friends on your phone. And let me first say that those friends are real! I know this! Some of the people who are MOST up-to-date on what's going on in my heart and head are people I knew first online. BUT. They aren't breathing the same air. And actual, physical presence is VERY important in building genuine community. Making sure that you share things with people IN PERSON before sharing them online is a great way to make sure you have a foot in each world. It doesn't have to be a hard and fast rule for you like it is for me. But I promise, if you keep it in mind, it'll help you move toward the people God has put in your physical path. It'll help you find your people, on the sidelines, at the gym, at the park.
2. Show up.
One of the biggest ways to engage in community is just to show up. Show up at church, even when it's hard to get your kids there, dressed, and on time. (I know, I'm a pastor's wife and I do it alone every week! It's worth it.) Show up at community group. Show up for last minute coffee. Show up for lunch with a friend who just got a promotion and is wondering if she can even do this thing. Show up at the hospital. Show up in the yard. Show up when the guy working at the restaurant you go to for brunch asks you to come to the other restaurant he works at for dinner, because he's got a few things he wants to talk about.
And if you're like us, show up in your friend's driveway and ask what they're doing. From the driveway. Ask if they want to go get pizza. Imagine your pastor showing up in your driveway asking you to get dinner? Cool or creepy? We weren't sure then and we aren't sure now but we did it and we laughed. So did they.
Showing up matters. Sharing things in person matters. It helps you remain whole. It helps you stay consistent, because you just can't fool the people who see you regularly.
As the seasons change, the people who see you may change too. Be ready, be open. Be hopeful. Be there. Genuine community will follow.
Connect with Kristi on her blog, And Babies Don't Keep.