Community and Hopes Thereof

It’s fun to go back and read some of the essays I wrote for previous life opportunities. They speak of who I was during that time and who I was hoping to become, what experiences I had and what experiences I was hoping to have. I wrote this essay for my application to CAP, unbeknownst to me at the time, my application for the best time of my life.

What I’m looking forward to in community: 

“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness” (Romans 12:3-8, KJV). Just as the Bible teaches, living in a volunteer community is being the body of Christ. We may all have different duties, but at the end of the day, we come back together and do what we can to build each other up. If the foot is hurting, then the whole body limps. I would like to live and work in a volunteer community because I get to invest in new people, get to know them and be a part of their journeys. I look forward to making new friends and networking, though I’m apprehensive about people breaking off into cliques, and even the unavoidable lifestyle clashes. 

Volunteer communities are such an attractive choice. It is a group of culturally diverse people, gathered together within the bounds of the same purpose: to help, to serve, to love. In some ways it seems like the “easy” route, because everyone lives in a close-knit community, it’s hard not to get to know each other. I do realize that these close-knit communities do present problems as well. That’s bound to happen with a group of people with completely different life-stories. People were raised differently, have different beliefs and values, and have different life goals, but as long as themain thing is kept the main thing there shouldn’t be too many issues that can’t be dealt with, gracefully. 

I look forward to making new friends and investing time in their lives. I really (simply) love people. They come from so many walks of life with so many different stories to tell. I love listening and understanding all that people have gone through. Relationships in a volunteer community are crucial. I have spent a couple summers working on dude ranches out west. Living with the staff that I worked with encouraged me to develop relationships with them. These relationships became vital, and at one of the ranches, I wouldn’t have made it through the summer without them. I still talk to many of them, but even the ones that I don’t talk to regularly, I keep in prayer. We were like a family, and whether we know it or not, we always will be. That’s what I expect in this next community: a family to learn from, encourage, and enjoy for the duration of the volunteer chapter of my life.

With every new experience comes apprehensions. One of mine is cliques. Unfortunately it’s not just a middle school problem. People find other people who are like them and continue on to spend the majority of their time with them. It happens; I’m guilty of it, but sometimes it separates people and hinders quality relationships in the volunteer family. I guess the best way to avoid cliques is to not be in one, and try to spend time and get to know everyone. My only other apprehension is the clash of lifestyle choices. Within the Christian religion, there are some many different subcultures and beliefs therein. I don’t like to be pressured into doing something that is against my beliefs. Though, I have been in situations before (e.g. the summer ranch jobs) where people from many different walks of life have made many different decisions about how to live their lives, and I was able hold my own then; so all things considered, I should be able to hold my own now. 

All in all, I look forward to living in a volunteer community. Whether God puts these people into my life for the time I’m there, or thereafter as well, I know that they will help me grow in my walk with the Lord, and will expand my capacity to love. It won’t always be easy, but it’s in those rough moments that God chisels into my character and carves a better me. As it is written in 2 Corinthians 4:7-9, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God, and not from us. We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” I pray that you will consider me as a vital member of one of your volunteer communities.

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