I just returned from an overnight women's retreat. I haven't had this opportunity in years and was grateful to finally be available to attend.
I enjoyed getting to talk with some very special ladies and sharing insights. I also enjoyed the teaching and focus a lot. It was about community and what that means. Community is defined a lot of ways these days and it means something different to a lot of people depending on who you ask. We considered the Biblical definition and intent of the writers. It made me think about the community I live in and the great privilege it is to share in community with others. Not everyone is in a position to experience it this way and it seems it can be very hard depending on where you live, the kind of person you are, and what you are willing to sacrifice. Our life had to change a great deal and we had to make our own financial and comfort sacrifices in order to have it. Not to say we made all these changes for community, but great community has been a byproduct of a greater experience. As a byproduct, it has made my life richer! It is worth it to me as it can make for a very healthy marriage, well adjusted children and sincere fellowship that isn't always easy to find in other areas. One huge thing I learned is that my focus has to be to be intentional about having a positive time and leaving others feeling the same. I have not always focused on that. Typically my focus has been on how to get the maximum fun out of something... that's just not always positive. Depending on my mood, my focus has sometimes been to air my opinions but driving my point down someone's throat can hurt and something I try to avoid.
This weekend opened my eyes to the fact that I already live and experience a great community. My daily life includes interacting with the local schools and administration who I have grown to appreciate and respect a great deal. I have been blessed to have my children taught year after year by some loving and godly women who I am so grateful for as they are answers to my prayers. I also spend time at the local grocery stores where I am recognized (like most shoppers) and enjoy a back and forth conversation that stays pretty light but is still encouraging in it's familiarity. I attend meetings for work and am blessed to enjoy the people I work with who supervise me and work alongside me. I call on friends regularly to have coffee or lunch or cookout on a pretty day. These friends are typically the same people and really it is no different than any group of friends who have things in common and enjoy similar schedules, kids near the same ages and a desire to get along with others with similar beliefs. It is a huge blessing. I also attend different sports activities and have had the chance to get to know other parents at the Y and schools who my kids interact with. My weekends are filled with kids and friends or visiting family out of town. My Sundays are spent sharing in worship, eating out with friends and resting whenever possible.
All this to say I am grateful for the community God has blessed me with. I'm also grateful for the opportunities I'll have in the future to work on friendships and share in fellowship and community!! The biggest thing I learned was it is important to be intentional in the way I spend my time with others because time is valuable and so are people.