It’s 8:45am and I need to drop my 2-year-old off at Mother’s Day Out to make it to work in time. I get her loaded in the car and try to start it. Nothing. My battery is dead and my husband is traveling for work. We have no family that lives in town. I’m frustrated and overwhelmed. I need help. What can I do? (I will come back to this illustration later in the article).
Community is such a vital aspect of mental health and is often one of the most overlooked. Our individualistic culture offers much in the area of professional growth, the “American Dream” of having the ability to own our own homes and reach personal goals, and to experience life to the fullest on our own terms without having to be concerned with others. I am grateful, proud, and fortunate to live in the United States. I also see a gaping hole developing in the area of community that concerns me for the future of my family and fellow citizens. Our busy-ness and multiple activities have us in the car running from place to place barely having time for dinner with our own families, much less for having dinner with others. What price will I pay if I overlook the true need and benefit of having “a village”?
What do I mean by a village? I mean true, impactful relationships with community members outside of family who engage regularly and meaningfully in each other’s lives. Communities are groups of people, typically sharing at least one common interest or similarity. Some examples of local communities could include: workplaces, churches, social clubs, sports, parenting, and cultural communities. The basic premise involves a connection between people and further relationship built on that connection. Thinking now, who is your village? While certainly family members play a vital role in our lives, I’m asking you to think beyond them to community members as well. Do you have people in the community you regularly engage with? Do you both invest and receive emotionally in and from them? Is your life impacted and impactful beyond your home?
WHAT’S THE POINT?
Thinking about those questions, allow me to revisit the initial example I gave of my situation above. I was able to call a close friend from church who not only jumped my battery but helped me get a new one and ensured I had transportation for the remainder of the day. Certainly I could have called a mechanic or tow truck but the cost and hassle would have increased my stress and prohibited me from making it to work on time. While this was not an emergency, it serves to show how engagement with others helped ease a burden in my life. I think also about my children and how grateful I am that I am working to build a safe and healthy community around them. I want to model and teach them how to serve others and see the world beyond themselves. When our focus is outside of ourselves, it helps reduce feelings of depression, negative self-worth, and lack of value. Community builds feelings of cooperation, connection, understanding, and love.
HOW DO I BUILD A VILLAGE?
Some of the ways that I seek to build relationships involve attending church and pursuing relationships beyond Sunday morning pleasantries; going to community events, such as plays and sporting events; meeting with a group of moms weekly and sharing parenting struggles and successes; making sure that my schedule has time to invite others to have a meal with our family; and meeting with a discipleship group every week. It’s not easy to balance family, work, responsibilities and social commitments but I have found that the joy and comfort I receive knowing I have others to help me on my journey has made every sacrifice worthwhile!
I’ll leave you with an invitation to a fun community event that is coming soon!
Corinth Family Fun Day
April 30th 10-3pm @ Corinth Office Suites at Oakmont
1430 Robinson Road Corinth, TX 76210
Learn more about our local businesses in your Neighborhood and support Corinth Police Department at the same time! We will be there and would love to meet you!v Also, I’d love to talk with you more about building community. Please call or email me with any questions!
Ashley Barkley, LPC [email protected] 405-473-6245. Ashley has worked at Acorn for over 6 months. She is open for new clients and specializes in children and adults.