Choosing Community by Elizabeth Wilkes
This month in E3kids, we’re learning about contentment. The definition I’ve been teaching and reciting all month is: deciding to be happy with what you’ve got. Deciding to be happy… This idea of happiness being a choice has always annoyed me a little. I’m a pretty sensitive person, easily affected by people and circumstances. When I’m unhappy, it doesn’t feel like a choice to me.
I’m naturally a pretty happy, optimistic human being. For most of my life, I viewed unhappiness, or any negative emotion, as something that was imposed upon me, an innocent bystander. Why would I choose to be upset, lonely or scared? I’ve done a lot of work to try to gain some stability in this area of my life, and much to my dismay, discovered that my former way of thinking was dead wrong.
It turns out, I can choose to focus my mental, spiritual and physical energy on things that keep me stable, healthy and even happy. The irony is that for a long time, I tried really hard to control people and things around me, instead of focusing on the one thing I actually have some control over, me.
So how does this play out in my day to day life? Recently, I was feeling lonely and isolated. I started to think through all of the reasons I was feeling that way. This part is tricky. It is so easy for me to assign blame to people and things over which I have no control. Of course, I’m legitimately affected by things outside of my control, however, I can only make choices for me.
I had to make choices that helped me feel more connected and less isolated from the people and things that I love. I chose to be honest with those close to me about my feelings. I chose to commit myself to spending quality time with friends and family. I chose to participate in community life here at E3.
If you’ve been around E3 for any length of time, you’ve heard about the value of things like growth groups, service and connexity events. There are so many opportunities to get connected to biblical community. The thing is, it’s a choice. Staying connected to community can get lost in the business of life if it’s not treated as a priority.
A few weeks ago, I danced around the CGA with some of my favorite kiddos to the tunes of Tom Petty. Last Wednesday evening, I shared heartfelt conversations and laughter with the ladies of SHE3. On Saturday morning I got to see our community come together to help our beloved Pastor Dan and his family move into their new home. On Sunday afternoon, I played kickball and ate watermelon with some of those same folks.
I paused at each of those events and just looked around and absorbed the connectedness and love I feel for the people I get to do life with. I could have found reasons or made excuses as to why I didn’t have the time or energy for any one of those events. I think that much like contentment or happiness, connecting with our community is a choice. So what will you choose? I choose community.