By Namwano Sichende
There is something about care that makes a difference. Something about paying attention to the little things and having a genuine interest, particularly in people, that makes this world somewhat bearable. Genuine interest is an act that can only be tried and tested to be true by those that know you on a soul level. It is something actively shown, not something merely said.
There is a famous quote by one John Done that states, “No man is an island”. It is an expression used to explain that self-sufficiency doesn’t quite cut it for any human in life. That everybody needs somebody. That everybody needs community in order to thrive. American actor Ron Cephas Jones, in his role as William, in the hit series ‘This is Us’ mentioned a rather profound statement about community. He says, “Community, it’s a strange word on its own, a word not as warm as family. But that’s okay because we have each other. We have this place, and that’s not nothing, that’s not nothing at all.”
Community on the ground is a gift not many are accorded yet have a deep longing for. We have an ache to feel loved and cared for, more so at our worst. Though we may refrain from vocally articulating it and inwardly accepting it, at our most vulnerable core is the desire to have people that will walk with us, hand in hand, side by side through the good, the bad and the downright ugly. Perhaps the issue is not the need, but how we go about meeting the need, given that each one of us, one way or another, is searching for acceptance, companionship or belonging.
There is an ideology that I believe needs to be clarified when it comes to building and engaging in community. The idea that our plights can or will be solved only through private interactions with God is a fallacy. It is not to say that taking time out to seek the face of God is unnecessary. The word of God actually compels us in Ephesians 6:18 to “pray at all times and with all kinds of prayers.” But equally as important is the aspect of accountability from a cloud of witnesses to God’s provision and His mighty work. As is mentioned in the Message version that we ought to “stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.” (Galatians 6:1-3)
Caring for one another means taking note of what could be better. It means taking note of what could become out of what is. The starting point however is a choice, and that choice is love. Love, as a motivation, is a reminder of who the other person is before walking with them to become it. Seeking out the good often makes room for one to become better and eventually creates the path to being the best or among them. To some, life is somehow endlessly delicious. They have mastered the art of creating lemonade out of the lemons life has served them. Though for others, it may require a selfless version of yourself. An attitude that cultivates generosity without expecting it back. But without community, character cannot be built. And though we may want to be on our own when the world caves us in, we ought to give ourselves permission to be surrounded and upheld by people that will not be quiet when they know we can be better. It is learning to be and surround yourself with a tribe that balances between being firm but tender, patient yet pushing you forward. Within your tribe should be the space to use the most ordinary tools such as calling, listening and sometimes visiting to rescue those you care for from a deadly downward spiral. Community provides feedback. They are our eyes when we cannot see. Our hands and feet when we are too feable to face the world.
So why bother? In order for us to thrive in community, it is for us, to be practical by participating in the miracle we desire through interacting openly in the circles we are in. It will require us to intentionally surround ourselves with one or two people that have gone before us and are where we would want to be. This may mean allowing people to call out the wrong in your life when it’s visible.
It will also require us to be proactive with that which we have. We need to cultivate an attitude of believing that we are enough, and that what God has accorded to us is resourceful. Analyse what you have, remembering, nothing you own is inconsequential. You have time? Create time to make a call, or visit a friend. You have food? Invite people over for a cup of tea or a meal, or take them out. Share even from the little that you have. Inquire of people’s well being beyond the ordinary hello, and seek to genuinely care once you find out how they are really doing.
Many are the hearts that are throbbing healthily today, but what do they beat for? Do they coldly beat for profitable opportunities or are they the selfless type that seek to go the extra mile to make some corners of the world a little less burdensome? Who do you care about and for today? Someone that’s been on your mind lately? Take the time to let them know, show them that you do care about them.
In a world where everyone could care less, be the one that chooses to care more.