For Better or Worse. . .
This past week I read a fascinating article in the San Diego Union-Tribune about the amazing rehabilitation of hatemongers, i.e. skinheads, neo-nazi’s and Ku Klux Klan members. It is the impetus for this post because it relates the one thing in common for us all. “Community, Cause & Identity”!
“To them, it was a raucous good time, built on a community, a cause, and an identity.” Describing the personal experience of two men on either side of the pond who entered a world of hate so toxic most mental health professionals believe there is no cure. Yet these two men are at the forefront of a movement populated by former hate-mongers seeking to reverse the negative trend of white nationalism, neo-Nazism and the hatred of the Ku Klux Klan.
What does this have to do with AWI and our mission to help Christian business women become the best version of the woman Papa God wants us to be? Well for better or worse; God made humans in His image and for relationship. Actually for ‘community’. Community which is often build around a shared interest in a specific cause. And the identity each of us gains by being part of a community who cares. For themselves and for each other!
Community! What Comes to Mind?
What comes to your mind when you read the word “community”? What feelings do you experience when you think about being part of a community? What kind of community “lights your fire”?
Let me what what comes to my mind – what I experience. Perhaps that will be helpful to you in coming to the realization of what community means to you and how you feel about it.
I think of a group of long-time friends sitting around a campfire on a cool summer’s eve. Sharing stories, concerns, joys, sorrows, etc. Sharing life with each other.
I also vividly recall my reaction to a photo shared on Facebook of 3 of my high school classmates with whom I was ‘bosom buddies’ enjoying a “mini-reunion” recently in NYC. I felt a familiar twinge of envy and jealously because I would so love to have been there with them. I also had momentary flashbacks of our time in high school during he golden 50’s when life in our small hometown was quiet, peaceful and truly golden!
Not only did I wish I could have been with my friends for the mini-reunion, I realized how much of my identity formation began with those women with whom I shared so much of my youth and young adulthood.
Bottom line? Community is a word that warms my soul and lightens my spirit. It says friends in the most powerful way. It says the whole is more than the sum of it’s parts!
Most of all, it says I’m never alone for human companionship for which I was made by a loving God who Himself is in community!
Be-Cause. . .
Dictionary.com states the following: Because implies a reason for an occurrence or action. Because introduces a direct reason for an occurrence or action.
One of the strongest motives folks bring to community is a common passion each of them shares. They come into community be-cause they believe in whatever it is the community passionately believes in. I came into a group dedicated to positively influencing and significantly impacting our local community because I have a heart for the community and a love for economic-community development (that “whole cloth” thing again!).
Although I love the ’cause’ or purpose for being with a like-minded group of people; I’m equally blessed by the fulfilling of a human need for relationship with folks with whom I share not only geographical space; but a common passion for the space we inhabit together.
Fact and Truth: community most often occurs out of our personal or professional “be-cause”. The cause becomes the impetus around which community forms and grows. While ’cause’ is not the end in itself; it is the glue that holds us together!
Who Am I?
Oh my goodness, how important our sense of self? How incredibly important ‘identity’ is in accepting self and making peace with who we are – warts, wrinkles and all that is ugly and unpleasant; as well as remarkably awesome!
Community gives us that. That is if the community is healthy and a highly functioning mature group of folks eager to engage each other’s differences as well as our similarities. If not, then our identity suffers and confidence wanes. A primary reason to choose wisely when choosing a group of folks with whom to hang for the greater period of our lives!
As was the case with the former hatemongers in the article that prompted this post; our identity can be for better or worse!
As a grown woman, I realize why my parents were adamant about knowing who I was hanging out with. My identity as a young woman would be greatly determined by peers who had considerable sway over what I did and how I felt about it. What did I believe about myself? Did I believe I was one of the 18 year old girls who crept over the Indiana-Ohio border for 3-2 beer? Or the young woman who said “no” because it was not who I wanted to be!
And trust me, identity can and often does change as we age through life. Marriage, friends, co-workers, bosses, managers and those we hold in a level of esteem all influence our self of self for better or worse.
Not Called to the Hermitage!
God did not call us to be hermits. At least not indefinitely or for a lifetime. He calls us to be in relationship. Healthy mature relationships modeled on the divine relationship He shares with the Son and His Spirit. While we’ll never achieve such a level of perfection in this life; striving to achieve it in community with others will positively impact and significantly influence who we become until the very last breath we take on this earth.
Best rule of thumb – Choose Wisely!
Linda S. Fitzgerald, M.S.Ed, CEO & Visionary Partner
A Women’s Place Network, Inc. dba
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