‘Creating Community within Your Community – what this looks like for me’
by Melody Haldeman
Melody and her husband live in Pennsylvania with their two small boys. As an active an healthy mama she is exploring ‘clean’ eating with her family and has seen dramatic results in her boys. You can read more about this here.
‘About a year ago, my husband and I challenged ourselves to an experiment. We asked ourselves what would life look like if we intentionally invested in the lives of the people living around us? What would happen if we opened our circle and invited more people in – even if they don’t even look like us, sound like us or think like us? The decision was made: let’s dedicate space in our life to growing that.
I spend the most time in our house with the children so the neighborhood block seemed like a natural place to start. I think that once a while ago everyone naturally lived in community with those around them. In these modern times technology has increased our reach and distance is easily traveled so our circles tend to spread out and become more selective. I realized that I was seeking out ministry opportunities far and wide while forgetting about the people under my own nose. On our street alone we have several shut-in widows, people suffering from chronic disease, rebellious teens needing relationship, young moms without a support system and plenty more hearts to be loved and stories to be heard. No matter where you are, the ghetto, suburbs or country, know that the people are hungry for real friendship, a taste of heaven and to be truly known. Are you willing to invest?
( photo credit: Tara Colquitt. Remember that time when young people flooded the beach in Kona ready to be baptized?!)
What does it look like to cultivate these sorts of circles? In my world, it’s not fancy. Small actions go a long way and a simple “hello” will open the door for future conversations and relationship building. Personally, I have to be purposeful in this area or I tend to be consumed in the urgent and everything else of life. This is where intentional choice comes in.
Here’s an idea of what practical relationship building looks like in my daily life. It could be making a double batch of muffins and drop half off for the neighbor caring for a spouse with dementia. It’s taking the extra time on our daily afternoon walk to stop and say hi to the often-sour elderly lady down the street who melts to butter when she interacts with my boys. Or, daily inviting teens to hang out in my home and listening to incredible amounts of conversation about every. last. detail. of their lives. I’ll occasionally get a word of counsel in but mostly I’m just THERE, listening, living and providing a safe place. Be proactive, just GO introduce yourself to the person who looks like they could use a friend. Invite others over for dinner, regularly. It’s about daily making little decisions that strengthen your priority for community.
A year later, life is richer, fuller. I’m encouraged by the bridges love has built. We see growth, hope awakened, open doors to speak into others lives. I am humbled by how little of an effort it takes on our part to bless someone in a huge way. Mostly, I’m grateful for the outpouring of love and friendship we received in return.
Moving forward, our goal is to keep our hearts open to those around us and partner with them for success. A big part of that is soaking each one with prayer and believing that salvation is theirs and their God given destinies will spring forth! This is the ministry that captivates my heart and is sustainable for everyone in any season or location.
How do you create circles of relationship in your life?
What would it look like if you sowed into those around you and sacrificed for their success?’