COMMUNITY: Why We Need Each Other So Much
Before we get to today’s message, remember: There WILL be happiness again. We WILL feel safe. We WILL have fun. Don’t let the disease, politics or the virus make you feel hopeless. God is greater than all of these things.
By Sally Tippett Rains
The events of this past week may have really gotten to you. No matter what you are dealing with, I want to remind you this valley of darkness we are in is not going to last forever. As long as we are here going through everything we might as well go through it with others, rather than alone.
The group in the top picture are some friends from college who call ourselves “The Bandana Sisters.” It all stemmed from one silly night in 1978 when we all had bandanas on. Thought we don’t see each other often since we live in different towns, those girls are a big part of my “community” and I know they will always be there for me. It’s good to have a community you can have adventures with and you know they will always have your back. It’s great to have friends and family you know you can always count on– but I know that’s not always the case.
Here’s a story for you: This week I was talking to someone I dearly love and she told me about her mother. When her parents got divorced, her mom literally dropped her off at the neighbors and never came back. Over the years she tried to have a relationship with her mother and was hurt on more than one occasion, but the final straw was when her mother sent her an enema—the message being the mom was saying the daughter was a piece of excrement. I couldn’t believe a mother could not be supportive of their child, but maybe some of you reading this can.
I was lucky to have a family who always supported each other and said “you can do it,” “we support you,” and “we are proud of you” but I know there are many who don’t get that support from those around you. It must be terrible to have a parent who hurts you, but whether or not someone believes in you should not be a factor in whether you believe in yourself. You can still succeed in having a happy life because God believes in you.
Because she did not have parental support it was up to her to make the choice if she was going to be a success and strive for Excellence or if she was going to let herself believe the things she perceived her mother to be thinking about her. She chose Excellence and found friends who would be her family. Through marriage she found in-laws who would be her family.
There are people all around us, willing to help us have a better life, but it’s up to us to figure out who the good people are and let them in. We desperately need each other—especially now. Sometimes people don’t realize we need them so there are times we should ask for help. You don’t have to be alone– and you shouldn’t.
One of the biggest things we all miss are the hugs. If you are quarantined with someone you love or care about, be sure to include loving touches and hugs every day, maybe even more than usual to compensate for the people we can’t hug. If you are quarantined alone, get out pictures of those who make you smile and set them out where you can see them often.
Even in our most isolated times, someone is thinking of us and they want the best for us. Yes even on those days when you say, “no one cares about me” many people care about you.
If you stop and think about it, you know who wants to see you succeed. If there is anyone in your life who makes you feel like you are not good enough or are not doing things the right way– if you are doing your best– then eliminate those people from the circle around you. Seek out those who think highly of you and believe in you– and likewise surround yourselves with those you think highly of and believe in.
Sometimes it is those closest to us– the ones who should be cheering us on– who keep us from achieving greatness because they take away our confidence by putting us down. They may react outright negatively and dash all your creative ideas, or they might express doubt saying, “I just don’t want you to get hurt if it doesn’t work out.” Remember you can get hurt every day of your life but don’t let that keep you from trying something.
I remember I had taken my kids ice skating for the first time and I told my mother-in-law and she said, “Oh Rob can’t ice skate, he has weak ankles.” He had not gone with us because he was at work and I had never known he had weak ankles. I asked him about it and he didn’t remember having weak ankles but he never ice skated. Now she was a nice lady and that may not be the best example, but it’s not up to us to put limitations on others and likewise it’s not up to us to accept limitations put on us. He later skated with our kids and his ankles held up just fine.
So how do you strive for excellence, greatness and happiness when you constantly feel you are being put down by someone around you? You learn to build your own positive circle– build our own community of people who have your back. One way to do that is by staying open to possibilities.
Sometimes support comes from the strangest places– people you would never have thought.
Whether we are looking for a job, looking for a date, navigating through an illness, or just having a bad day, you never know where your encouragement or inspiration will come from—so stay open to all possibilities.
How do you get a circle of friends? You make the effort.
The people in our circle are our community– they’re “our people.” Another word that can help in time of need and help you keep your circle is Communication. In order to have good relationships with our people– and keep them– we need to have good communication. Communication is a two-way street; I ask about you and listen, and you ask about me and listen. Real communicating is not judging.
We must build our community– picking and choosing only the positive people who can help us or we can help them. Communication is a huge key to choosing your community.
One person I talked to called those people she relies on her “social network,” Hillary Clinton called it a “village.” I have called a group of women who showed support to my children as they were growing up “the fairy godmothers.” Whatever you call them, the point is we need each other because God made us that way. If he would have wanted Adam to be by himself he would not have created Eve. If someone is trying to help you, let them. If you need someone to help you, ask them.
If you don’t have anyone to support you I will. You are worth being supported. Choose Happy.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
—2 Corinthians 12:9-10
“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”
-– Winston Churchill
If you don’t feel you have enough support, figure out a way to make your own support group. Here are a few ideas:
- Find some of your favorite people and think of ideas to get together.
- Have a social distancing even in your backyard and invite some interesting people.
- Start a weekly Bible Study and invite people you want to get to know better who you think are Christians.
- Sign up for classes or go to networking events and try to find people who like the same things you like.
- Start your own group. Think of something you are interested in and invite a couple of people over to talk about it or make a Facebook group about it. I have a group of friends called “Windies” who like the book Gone With the Wind. I have a group of friends from high school. One time during my life I decided to put together my own group and I just invited some people over and we called ourself Jingle Belles. You can make up any nickname for your group or you can just get together and support each other.
- Do everything you possibly can to provide togetherness for your family. Support them and hopefully they will support you. If your family will not be a source of support find a neighbor or a friend to be your “family.”
- Send cards, flowers or flowers to people who mean something to you to show them you care.
Sally Tippett Rains is a motivational speaker, inspirational writer and author of 13 books, including Choose Happy; Find Contentment in Any Situation. She is the volunteer Executive Director of Rainbows for Kids and content manager for STLSportsPage.com.
Fifteen Keys to a Happy Life
F orward- Keep moving forward
I nitiative- Take the initiative and start things.
N ow- Do it now, live in the now
D etermination- Stay determined to making it
C ommunity –Accept the help of others
O ptimism- Don’t give up on yourself or others
N ew Ideas- Maybe it’s the time to try new ideas
T enacity- Stay in the game, you can do it
E nergy – Do what you need to do to have energy.
N ormalcy – Embrace your “new normal”
T rust – Trust yourself and others.
M indfulness –Don’t worry about the future.
E ncouragement Encourage yourself and others.
N utrition and Health – Take care of yourself.
T ranquility – Learn to just be at peace.