By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott
We were designed by God to love and be loved, know and be known, serve and be served. These are some of the greatest gifts we can ever give and receive. Simply put, we are created to live in community with one another. It is in this context that we are propelled to flourish in our relationships and every other area of our lives.
Building a strong, supportive community is arguably never more important than when navigating our marriages. It’s not only a matter of surrounding ourselves with people, but choosing the right people. Here are three ways you can seek out and build healthy community around you.
FIND A LOCAL CHURCH AND GET PLUGGED IN.
The best place to find like-minded people is in your local church. If you’re not a part of a church, and frustrated by the lack of quality people in your life, that is the very best place to start. If you’re willing to embrace the process wholeheartedly, it is your best bet to building lasting relationships in your life.
As well as forming great relationships with like-minded people, many Church communities like to take part in fun activities as a form of support for their place of worship. Taking part in church fundraisers, volunteering for charities, and supporting each other in times of need really implements the sense of community and solidifies your friendships.
Each Sunday, churches all around the world open their doors. Everybody is welcome, and the possibilities are endless. Most churches make it easy to narrow your options, finding places you can serve and smaller groups you can join. As programmed as it may sound, it is most often a place where getting plugged in can lead to growing relationships organically within the safe framework of the church.
SEEK OUT PEOPLE WHO HAVE GONE BEFORE YOU.
Wisdom doesn’t always come with experience, but when it does, it is an invaluable resource. Finding people who have been married longer than you, who are godly, and who are open to sharing their successes and failures is worth its weight in gold for your marriage. Look for people whose marriages you would like to model. Ask them if they would be willing to mentor you, or simply spend some time together.
Being married comes with a unique set of challenges. Parts of us are revealed that we never knew existed, and it can be so easy to think we are the only people facing certain challenges. One powerful thing we have realized is that you’re never alone in your challenges. Finding people with more experience will often reveal that. They have worked through the things you are going through, are stronger for it, and may even be able to laugh about it now. They can provide powerful perspective and help you feel less alone. They may just be the most valuable form of community you can find.
The thought of seeking counseling can be a source of shame in our culture. For a minute though, shift your mind from counseling as being a negative, to it being a source of building healthy community around you.
It’s simply never wise to face our problems alone. And if you’re feeling isolated in any area of your life, a good Christian counselor may be the saving grace you have been looking for. There is nothing to be ashamed of in seeking counseling. In fact, your marriage may be going better than it ever has. It could be argued that even in the best of times, counseling is wise. Wouldn’t you rather do damage control than disaster clean-up?
Counselors are trained professionals who have spent time and energy into helping people through the common life issue that we all face. A good counselor can provide a safe, objective view on your unique situation. They are trained to get you to the source of your feelings and equip you to better deal with your relationships. Some of the strongest marriages around have sought or keep regular counseling. It’s a powerful way to build and sustain your marriage and the community around you.
We simply weren’t meant to do this life alone. Building a strong community around you may take time, but is well worth the investment into your relationships, and especially your marriage. There is strength in numbers, and power in community! Seek it today if you don’t have it, and work to keep it if you do! It’s the only way to do life the way we were created to.
If you would like help in developing healthy community or working through the hurts of an unhealthy community, please call CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with one of our counselors or coaches.