Community makes all the difference | Faithful Living
By JOAN BAY KLOPE
Whidbey News Times Columnist
August 24, 2012 · Updated 4:01 PM
I grew up in a modest-sized coastal community in California. Had you asked me then what I thought of my community, I would have responded with positive comments. I would have said that my community was filled with people who knew who I was, were interested in me and participated in my life. Members of my community cared for their family members and friends. They used their interests and skills to generously contribute to people around them.
My growing understanding of community --- influenced by my own sense of security, personal identity and contentment --- was fertilized by a host of characters. Barbara Pease spent countless hours at her kitchen table painting campaign posters and buttons whenever I ran for student government posts. Billy Clower taught me ballet, tap and jazz and the value of service clubs. Maggie Marsh cared for me beyond her sixth-grade classroom and taught me to snow ski. Bob Warnagieris and Robert Cousar mentored me during my experiences with leadership and career development. Eleanora Cox sewed most of my clothes and attended almost every event of my life, big and small. Sarah Bay and Connie Tice showed me how to talk boldly about the love of Jesus. Jerry Lehman introduced to me the world of page design and book publishing. Earl Rowe showed me how the great love of God can be expressed on the written page. Rose Ann Klope taught me that the more people you invite to your table, the merrier your life will be.
It’s my experience that reading cookbooks and surrounding yourself with pets produce joyful experiences. These are just two things my mother taught me. My brother taught me that your level of accomplishment deepens when you learn to harness your mind and sharpen your focus. Dad taught me that servanthood and generosity builds relationships and deepens your understanding of loyalty.
These are just a fraction of the people who populated my community and contributed to my life. Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of this host of characters are the long-lasting contributions they made to my life and to the lives of others in my community. Some of these people are deceased. Not one lives within my community today. But their lives still matter. What they said and did for me in my formative years breath life into me today.
We are better together and I believe that only in a community setting can we learn to live the kind of healthy, balanced, purposeful lives God designed for us. A healthy family unit is not enough, for those lessons can never be expressed in isolation. It is when we make determined efforts to worship together, study God’s word together and gain the skills necessary to represent the message, personality and characteristics of God to those around us, will we be living according to God’s plan.
This is not a concept that will sit comfortably with those who resist the complications, challenges and struggles that piggyback consistent human interaction. But there will also be unimagined growth, joy, contentment. There will be a new depth to life that only comes when you step outside the confines of your home, to care for others and contribute to a community around you.