Community is Difficult

Sometimes I think I’m too fickle for church or community or whatever. But I know that’s not really true. I think the struggle I have with community involves the need to form deep, personal relationships with those I commune with. I want to be best friends…okay, not really. But I do like talking regularly. And by talking, I mean texting, because phones are for people who don’t mind awkward pauses and anxiety-ridden, unedited comments. I want more than a once a week “hi, how are you?” Because seriously, who actually asks that with genuine interest anymore? No one really wants the answer. They would rather check Facebook on their phones and avoid eye contact. (#Guilty)

I recently started participating in a new “church” community. I say “church” because it’s more a group of people who sit around, sometimes sing, talk about God or Jesus or life, and drink beer. And talk about all the beer and how wondrous it is. Unless, of course, it’s Michelob or Bud Light. That’s not beer. It’s an insult to beer. And your liver. I digress. This church has been really beautiful and helpful as I recover from previous-church trauma. But in the last few weeks, my interest in it has waned. (And I’m about to dish out a whole lot of selfishness…so just bear with me and understand that in writing this, I’m also processing how I feel…word by word.)

A few weeks ago, one of the “leaders” approached me that a new girl was going to attend “church” and the leader thought I would get along with this girl because of similar interests observed online. No big deal, right? Sunday rolled around and New Girl showed up as promised. As it turns out, this girl is so hot it makes my soul hurt. And my jealousy rage. And even more ironically, she and my husband have a mutual connection. Dagger meet heart. On that fateful Sunday, I sat around and watched as everyone was enthralled by her. Only a few months prior, I was sort of the new toy and everyone wanted to talk to me and get to know me…I felt like I was finally forming relationships I’d longed for for years. And then it just dropped off…almost entirely. And now, everywhere I look online, they are doting on Hot Girl. She’s the new toy. (And seriously, this girl is great, she’s par for the course. She has good taste in music and people.) I think her entire presence sort of reinforced the fact that I’ve been wanting to (and trying to) make deeper connections with this group and it just hasn’t happened. The four leaders of the church have been friends for years and they possess a bond that I share with other close friends. These bonds are almost impenetrable, I get it. And I’m not asking to be their new best friend or even be #3 on their speed dial (do we even do speed dial anymore?), I just want more of a connection…otherwise, it’s going to be really easy for me to stay at home. Sleeping in on Sundays is like a morphine addiction. Fucking amazing.

I feel wretched for even having these thoughts. It’s not the church’s fault…because I haven’t openly said (until now), “I need more.” Because everyone has busy schedules, lives, and obligations and I don’t want to be another item on their to-do list…especially if they don’t feel the desire to reciprocate a friendship. In all of my previous communities, I was able to make a steady connection…build a friendship with someone where I felt like I could invest. And it’s astounding that I’m even considering seeking MORE from these people…cause church is fucking difficult (see previous posts). Community is difficult. Perhaps the church members sense my distrust and that’s why they hold back…they don’t want to overwhelm me. I’m not sure. And I don’t want them to read this and feel bad, like they’ve let me down or something.

I didn’t realize how much I needed that connection to stay invested. Before, the relationships just happened and they occurred organically and sometimes hastily after I got involved. I’ve been so damn lonely…for a very long time, lacking that intimacy of a good friendship. I have best friends and they live hundreds of miles away. I don’t have people to visit during the week or converse with after a long day (other than my husband). I don’t have anyone present, tangible, that I can access weekly that will hang out with or talk to me. I see online that some church people are hanging out together because that’s what they do and have done for years. Because they’re friends. How does one flat out ask…”Hey, can I come?” without looking like the dorky afterthought? I don’t want to push myself on people. And I’m shit at asking people to do things…but maybe I should try. I can’t expect that they will always seek me out.

It’s the worst possible feeling to need community and be absolutely terrified of it. Because I know the more I invest, the more I risk. But I’m tired of denying the fact that I need people in my life. I don’t need them constantly, I just need to know they’ll be there if I ask. And in turn, I’ll be there for them. That’s what friends are supposed to do.

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