(From my first hiking trip of 2015 – here in Tennessee)

I have got to say that I have truly come to value community a lot more in the last year of my life.

I am an introvert. And when I say ‘introvert’, I don’t mean I’m shy; I just feel completely drained after being around people. I have never had very many friends. In fact, I have gone long periods of time depending on family to by my only source of relational investment.

In the last year, however, I have learned a lot about community. I know I have written about this before, but the revelation – while obvious to some – is so profound for me.

Who knew other human beings could enhance your own experiences as a person?

I always took for granted the idea of ‘fitting in’; I never felt like I did and so I didn’t put much stock in it.
I blew off people who felt the need to advocate the advantages of having a ‘strong community’.
I purposely distanced myself from people who organized a lot of social gatherings, as parities fatigued me and I grew exhausted after a short time.

But I have found a community, and the experience had given me room and direction to grow that I would never have endeavored without being in these circumstances.

Perhaps you’ve heard this joke:
“What’s the difference between in-laws and outlaws?
Outlaws are wanted!”

That has not been the case for me.
My in-laws have been kind and open, considerate and appreciative of me. They have truly adopted me, and that experience has led me to put down roots in this town called Chattanooga. It has helped me to understand S, and where he came from and where he acquired such admirable ideals and such incredible character.

My community has been through my marriage as much as it had been through my friendships forged in this area.

Who knew I would fall in love here?

People have so much to share, to teach, to offer one another. If you haven’t opened yourself up, I highly recommend a forced renewal of vulnerability.
Some people have to move to a new place in order to pear about themselves.

Be open. Community is good.

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