And so I talk about how I have had the privilege of being welcomed into several other families as a real member. But sometimes it just sounds kind of...well, easy. You know, like I get to enjoy all of the benefits of family and community without any of the blood and sweat that goes into family life. Someone might say, "Well Nick, you can just go enjoy dinner at your voluntary families house and then leave when the kids get fussy and the dishes need washing. That must be nice...talk to me when community takes work."
So, I thought I would share just a little bit about my Labor Day weekend that I recently enjoyed with my second family. We spent the whole weekend hanging out, eating good food, playing with my nieces and nephews, and loving each other. But that's not all.
I made trips to the store, chopped veggies, did dishes, cooked food, took out the trash, swept the floor, did more dishes, cleaned up the pee from a potty training three-year-old, held fussy babies, and slept on a couch. When I am there, as a member of the family, I am not a guest that gets all the benefits of love and then puts his feet up. I am expected to function as a member of the family, with all that entails.
And I wouldn't have it any other way.
True community is a place where sacrificial love is given AND received. And those of us who are single and celibate need that. I need someone not only to serve me, but I also need someone to serve. That is just as important to my flourishing as being served. In his recent CT article, Wes Hill shared something that one of his friends told him that I found really helpful. She said, "You want someone for whom you can make soup when she's sick, not just someone who will make soup for you when you're sick." Exactly.
So here's to a community life that isn't easy, that doesn't take the short cuts. Here's to putting others needs before our own. Here's to doing the hard emotional and relational work that comes along with living in close relationship with others. Speaking of the vocation of living in the mess of Christian community, Eve once said, "People in these vocations would still have problems, since devoted friendship, community, and family aren't easy, but they'd be better problems."
Here's to better problems!