02 Jan Building Community: We Are Stronger Together
by Angie Williams
The entrance of a new year is a natural time to reflect on our lives and our hopes for the future—both individually and collectively. One of my desires for my family is that we can look for ways to build community in a world that often feels disjointed and full of conflict. We strive to give our girls, ages 4 and 7, a foundation of security and love. We hope that this foundation not only provides a special sense of belonging at home, but also that it can and should prepare them to engage with, contribute to, and receive from the communities they will encounter in their lives.
As I think about what it means to build community, a few concepts come to mind that I hope to instill in our daughters:
- Being there when people need us most: I can think of several examples in my life when a community surrounded an individual or small group in urgent need. Just recently, as some of you may be aware, an EFC teacher lost her home to a fire. Her community of friends, family, colleagues, and even strangers has offered her incredible support to help her through this time. It is hard to imagine how people move through the most challenging times in life without community.
- Being there when being there is hard or uncomfortable: There are some situations in which being part of a community is not easy. Perhaps we don’t know the right words to provide comfort, we don’t agree on a path forward, or we aren’t ready to open ourselves to new possibilities. Being in community requires empathy and patience, with others and with ourselves. We hope to help our daughters develop the emotional strength and stamina (even as I continue to work on mine!) required to be in authentic community, even when it is hard.
- Identifying our strengths that can help the community: I am still on a Mr. Rogers kick and have started watching some old episodes of his show with our girls. He often tells his audience, “there is no one else in the whole world just like you.” Our older daughter grasped onto this and repeated it to me after one episode in a tone of wonder and pride. The idea that each of us is unique in the world and has something special to contribute to a community is so important; it builds our own sense of worth and makes the community stronger.
It is easy to get overwhelmed in our fast-moving and demanding society that has no shortage of entrenched problems. But when we are in community with one another, the load is lightened, and we gain greater understanding of each other. That feels like a good thing for our family to strive for in 2020!
And from this EFC community, which we hope will continue to provide support for your family, we wish you a healthy and happy new year!