Building Community

Community. Oxford Languages defines it as “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.” Yet community is far more than a definition—it’s an essential component to living a healthy, thriving life.

Why is it essential? Among many reasons, community ministers to our mental health by providing a sense of belonging, support, and purpose. For me, it’s always been important, but with influences including social media, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the stress that comes with simply being a parent, having a strong sense of community is more important than ever.

Especially as a mom, it’s easy to put the kids first and neglect other priorities. In recent months, I’ve seen women becoming detached and isolated. It’s as if they’re treading water in the deep end, trying to manage the basic things at home while believing they don’t have any extra time for their own friendships.

Remember: human beings were created for connection and relationship with others. It’s a vital part of who we are. If we’re working against our very design, wouldn’t we expect to feel some friction?

So what can you do? Begin to surround yourself with people who build you up. Find individuals in the same season you’re in so they can say, “I know exactly how you feel. You’re not alone.” And find others who are further along who will remind you that you really can do this, and to offer guidance when you need it.

The kicker is that establishing this kind of support system takes intentionality. Who in your sphere of influence could you reach out to? Look where you’re already spending your time and see who else is showing up there, whether it’s at your kids’ school, at your church, or in your neighborhood. Then be bold and ask someone to join you for coffee and see where the conversation takes you. Impactful connections are worth the risk feeling uncomfortable.

Hear this: Intentions are not the same as being intentional. You can intend to read 30 books in a year, but it won’t happen without some thoughtful effort. Being intentional means making a plan for how you’ll carry it out, and the same is true with friendships: You have to be specific with how you’re going to build community.

A huge benefit of walking out this idea of community is that you’ll model it to your children. If they watch you detach from everyone, can you expect them to have thriving friendships in their own lives? Conversely, if you model healthy community in your own relationships, they’ll see how they can do the same. Encourage your kids to connect with others beyond the surface.

It can be easy to feel like no one understands your goals or circumstances, but it simply isn’t true. We were meant to live in community, to have people surround us and to surround others. Keep opening up and having conversations. You never know who you’ll meet and how you’ll be encouraged once you do.

If you enjoyed this article, listen to my guest appearance on The 29 Minute Mom podcast.