There is this rising stigma among Christians that community is non-existent after college. I am very aware of that fear as I graduated in December and headed across the country to Arizona for a youth pastor position where I knew absolutely no one.
I’m not going to lie, it is terrifying. So the question becomes: Why is it so hard to have good community as a twentysomething?
There are three big reasons why I feel like this is such a common conversation:
Your community at college is often unrealistic in the “adult world.”
I can remember my first three years of college being ones full of friends and relationships that were vital toward my emotional health and spiritual growth. To add to that, they were also really fun, and I can’t remember very many times where I didn’t have someone to hang out with or something to do.
I lived with 50 guys on my floor—I could walk 50 feet down the hallway and pass five or six open bedrooms.
When we go to college we are entering into an environment where everyone is trying to look for new community. It is easy for everyone because they are all dealing with the awkward steps of making new friends.
So when you ask yourself—what does good community look like to me? You may want to re-evaluate what good community actually is, because chances are you had an encounter with good community that is only realistic at college—maybe even only the first year or two of college. I urge you to explore and dig deeper into what community may look like for you in the future.
Building/joining into community outside of college is actually hard.
I’ll be the first to tell you that joining into community outside of college is not easy.
In fact, you will have to work for it. It will most likely be awkward and seem completely different than college. You may have to look for churches and small groups with people your age, and you might even have to invite yourself to things for a while.
The reason for this is because you are trying to enter into the flow of something that is already moving perfectly. It may be hard for you to join into a community of people because they are already perfectly content with their friends and environment. So you need to fight hard to join in on some valuable community.
It’s vital to many areas of your life, and Jesus would agree. If you notice in the four Gospels, Jesus actually sought people out. He engaged in some possibly awkward conversations. He chose the disciples and intentionally engaged within their community.
He chose to enter into Zacchaeus’ own home (and this might be where I get the whole “invite yourself to things” idea). He even talked with the woman at the well when he contextually shouldn’t have. He even called out her past marriage failures too (I wouldn’t advise doing that for a while).
It’s not easy, but the reward is totally worth it. Jesus changed people’s lives in a matter of seconds. Don’t lose heart, keep fighting and it will come.
You will never be fulfilled with other people until Christ fulfills you.
You need to fulfill your hope in community with Jesus before you move outward toward other relationships.
To be honest, this is the hardest for me. I find myself constantly seeking additional relationships as if it will fulfill my inner desire for community and ultimately intimacy.
I try to be with people as often as I can so I will never feel alone. However, I am starting to realize that once I leave school there will be a lot more time for me to be alone. I think this is such an issue because I have a false understanding of how God can be my community.
I don’t ever see Jesus as one who can fulfill my loneliness. The raw reason behind it is: I don’t trust God. I sometimes don’t believe that my lack of intimacy and my fear of loneliness is enough for God to handle.
This point scares me. It causes me to dive into pointless relationships with girls, or seemingly invaluable “acquaintances” with others because I am too afraid to just sit and be alone with God.
I am fully aware that I just exposed a lot of deep issues among myself, and most likely many others. But I don’t want to stop here. I want you to know that Jesus is your friend. This isn’t a cliché “Jesus is there for you,” but an authentic realization that when I am completely alone across the country, I am loved, and I am in community with Jesus.
I am valued, and Jesus wants to spend time with me. I need to stop placing my intimacy and hope in fleeting relationships, but instead ground my intimacy in the one who has never abandoned me. And that is community.
Now I don’t believe this will be all butterflies and glitter, but I do think that when you prioritize Jesus as your primary community, you start to realize that your pinnacle worth of community isn’t based on your friends or even your family, but instead on the one who will never forsake you. Community with others will fall into place when you are grounded in a relationship with Christ.
Psalm 63:1 says, “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water”
Even when there are no people around you or only little water to drink, I pray that our “whole being” longs and thirsts for God.