Community is something I’ve not only talked about a lot, but a word I hear probably daily in YWAM. We live together, worship together, work together, serve together. I live in a room with two other girls, one from USA/Swaziland, and one from England. We share a kitchen and bathroom with two other girls who live above us, from USA and Canada. We have a cleaning rota/schedule that we don’t always stick to, and have meetings about how to be better flat mates. Sometimes we eat together, or have tea and coffee while chatting, and sometimes we get on each others nerves and talk when someone is sleeping, or forget to ask when we use each others things. We are a community, and we are a work in progress, just like everyone else. In honor of this crazy family I’ve found myself adopted into here is my compiled list of Things No One Tells You About Community, the good, the bad, the strange.
1. Everyone’s Different!
I cannot count the amount of times I was shocked to my system by something Mim, my British roommate, said. First of all she has a million British slang terms I’ve never even heard before, and they always throw me for a loop. We have grown up in completely different worlds, and therefore we have different language terms, different experiences, different expectations of daily life from how important it is to use coasters, to what time the lights go out at night. It may be a shock to your system to discover that other people do things differently than you, and it may be even stranger to learn that it’s okay, and you can still love them, and you can still coexist. Loving people, really loving them is messy. It is not easy. This may take years to come to grips with. I am still learning.
2. You Get What You Give
Community does create a space of vulnerability, of family, but you only get what you give. You have the opportunity to really KNOW people, but it is impossible if you refuse to be known. If you go into it thinking that you can keep your heart locked up inside itself, to give nothing and still receive, you are sadly mistaken. Community is all about relationship, it is all about people, and if you’re not willing to be an open person, honest about your feelings and what you’re going through, no one else will be that way with you either. There have been countless times where I have wanted nothing but to be alone, but had to realise that actually people need people. I have had to learn the hard lesson of reaching out when in need. There is no better place to be.
3. There Will Be Good Times and Bad Times
You may not always get along with people. You may run into times with each other where you feel like pulling your hair out. That’s okay. Love is about seeing each other, really seeing each other, and staying. You fight, you battle, and then you conquer it and you move on. One of my roommates and I have lived together on and off since our DTS in 2012, and believe me it has not all been a picnic. But I love her. We annoy each other, and we each have our own things to sort out, but real friendship surpasses that. We laugh a lot. And we have hard times too. That’s life.
4. People Leave, And That’s Okay
One of the hardest lessons that I have learned here is that it is okay to love someone and to have them leave. ESPECIALLY in YWAM when we have people come for a few months to a few years; you bond with people and then sometimes they leave and go on to better things. It is a constant reminder that love is worth it, that forming relationships that matter is worth it. Some say it would be easier to hold people at arms length, to not let them get too close, but that’s not community. Living in community has taught me that no matter the outcome, relationship is worth it.
5. It Makes You A Better Human
I honestly feel like community has just taught me how to be a better person, how to remember that I am not alone in this life, and that other people matter. It has shown me a world that does not revolve around me. Maybe I don’t love cleaning the bathtub, or doing my dishes right away, but I do it for my flat mates, because although this is my home, this is their home too. Community is a mess. And it is chaotic. And it is good. You should try it sometime.