Community and Service: How Middle Class Millennials are Missing the Mark

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When it comes to community, our middle class millennial age has given us unprecedented privilege in which we are unaware: our finances allow us to hire a babysitter, drive far distances, buy dinner, and eat with a friend a town away. Our technology allows us to meet someone on vacation, and then keep up with her through social media indefinitely.

For us, “community” means pages on Facebook, a church that pools people from four surrounding towns, and planning dinner with the old roommates. And serving our community means scheduling a time slot on a certain day, driving distances up to 30 minutes away, and arriving in a part of town we never before stepped foot in. And I’m not necessarily saying that we shouldn’t engage in this type of community, but . . .

. . . This got me thinking:

Isn’t it absurd that we “schedule” time to serve, and only through an event or organization, when there are ever present needs all around us within walking distance?

Isn’t it absurd that we drive a town away to serve dinner when the family next door is forfeiting theirs because finances are tight?

Isn’t it absurd that we go to “serve” those in other communities we consider “unfortunate,” tell them “God Bless” and “it’s going to be okay,” and then travel back home to our fireplace and Netflix never to invest in them again, while they sleep on the floor and listen to the echo of gun shots and police sirens nightly?

Isn’t it absurd that a single mother cries on the phone to her mom back home because she’s desperately tired and has no one nearby to give her even an hour break, while the lady next door has spent the entire day watching Netflix?

What if we shifted our paradigm of community? What if we less viewed community and serving as a definable place and time, and instead felt it as an ever-present reality physically surrounding us that we can choose to engage in or shut out? What if we learned that the terms “community” and “serving” are inseparable concepts? 

pathway-1629027_1280EVERYONE belongs to a community, and yet we are increasingly surrounded by people who feel so alone.

See, this is where we’ve failed. We’ve failed to make community with those next door. We’ve failed to engage people in our daily lives and routine. We’ve paid the utmost attention to someone’s Instagram that we’ve never met, while ignoring the man who sits alone every night on his porch with tears in his eyes.

If we all pursued our neighbors, no one would fall under the radar. If we served those around us, no one would go without assistance and we’d better our world starting with where we live.

Community is within walking distance. Relationships are an eye-shot away. Service is the street on which you live, the places you frequent, and the building in which you work. 

Don’t go looking for community — build community where you are. 

 

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Motherhood: Finding Common Ground Beyond the Labels and Mom Tribes

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Hi Crunchy Mamas! Hello Vaxers and Nonvaxers! Hi fit mommy, stay-at-home mom, working mom, formula and breastfeeding moms! Hi public school or homeschooling mommies! Hi adoption and foster moms! Hi homosexual and heterosexual mommies! Hi secular and religious mommies! Hi helicopter and hands-off mommies!

You know what’s beautiful? We all have something in common: motherhood.

The first time we laid eyes on our baby. The heartbreak of experiencing a sick little, helpless one. The heartbreak of miscarriage. The feeling of being inadequate and questioning our role, questioning if we give them everything we can. The ever-lasting battle of life balance. Of watching our bodies change. The beauty and awe watching our baby peacefully sleep in our arms….

When we start here, at this common ground, we start a REAL conversation. We recognize each other as mommies first, not the titles above. We recognize the love, gentleness, thoughtfulness, and life experiences that shape us, that shape our decisions (decisions that even we question while in our firmness advocating for them).

I want to hear why you don’t vaccinate, even when I choose to. I want to hear about healthy eating and how it would benefit my child, even though I eat… McDonald’s . I want to hear why you’ve chosen to homeschool, while I will go to work each day and send my kid to public school.

Because I believe these conversations are important. I think these conversations expand our worldview and help us relate as mothers. I think these conversations help us break down barriers and remind us that we are all working toward being better: for ourselves, for our babies, for society.

We have different views, yes, and we always will. But name calling, putting each other down, snubbing, etc. doesn’t solve anything. It doesn’t open ears or eyes. It doesn’t empower. It doesn’t encourage. It isn’t inspirational. And wisdom doesn’t come from that place. Growth doesn’t start there.

And I’m not even sure I’m advocating that we can’t be frustrated at certain views! But unfortunately most people end the conversation from frustration, instead of letting frustration be the springboard toward dialogue and much needed conversation! Frustration should be the start of conversation, not the end! We have so so much in common beyond these labels!

There’s so much beauty in those we can’t possibly agree with, just start the conversation. And listen.

Listen to the heart first, not the label.

To the Friend that Only Called When They Needed Something

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I love you.

I’ve heard so many people speak down about your type. The one that’s here for a season for assistance and then gone for a year. The one that only calls to ask a favor, but never calls to say “how are you?”

We all have seasons.

Some seasons are harder than other seasons. Sometimes, you need attention. Sometimes, you need to know you’ve been heard. Sometimes your current backlog of issues are so overwhelming that hearing about someone else’s may make your anxiety and depression crumble you to pieces. Sometimes you don’t have the confidence that you could help anyone, so you don’t ask. Sometimes you haven’t learned reciprocation. Sometimes, you don’t know how to communicate you care. Sometimes, you’re so extremely busy with work and kids and marriage and school that it’s difficult to fit one more thing in for a friend. Sometimes mental illness only allows you to reach out when it’s really bad. And, perhaps you called me because your closest friends wouldn’t listen, or ran from you when things got bad.

Call me.

You may not ask me “How are you?” although I’d love for you to. But, I’ll be here to listen either way. Because someday, that might be me on the other line — too overwhelmed and distracted by life to realize I never asked you how you were doing before I began crying on your shoulder.

You may not stick around for my season of need.

But I’ve learned a lot from you. I’ve learned how to be a listener. I’ve learned how to calm someone down. I’ve learned to be patient with you. I’ve learned that sometimes it doesn’t have to be about me. I’ve learned to say “No” when I can’t help you more. I’ve learned life from your eyes. I’ve learned that when I give you my time, it doesn’t mean I’m owed anything in return. I’ve learned how to love this moment because it means you trusted me enough to call.

Of course, I hope you stick around. I hope you call me just to ask how I’m doing. I hope that you’ll be there in my time of need, but perhaps that season is for another friend. And, that’s okay.

In the meantime, I’ll love you. In the meantime, I won’t demand anything in return. In the meantime, call me anyway.