Today’s guest post is from my friend Cindy Johnston. Cindy is mom to two amazing boys and has been married 16 years to her husband, Bob. When she isn’t working at Ada Bible Church in communications, she is a blogger at lifesjoyfulchaos.com, contributing writer for Circle of Friends Ministries, published author at the Burnside Writer’s Collective, social media consultant, adoption advocate, school volunteer, and photographer. Follow @CindyRJohnston.
Cindy also shared a story with me that ended up in my upcoming book “Isn’t it Time for a Coffee Break?” (Available for pre-order now!) Today, Cindy shares with us a heart warming story from her childhood community.
The way it was…
I struggle with community these days.
It seems like I am so busy running here, there, and everywhere that I am unable to find 15 minutes to sit down and have a cup of coffee with a friend.
I’m pretty sure that means I have a very broken system.
I’m also pretty sure it means society has a pretty broken system.
The world in general seems to promote this idea of “I.” You know…I can do this myself. I don’t need help. I’d rather leave them a voicemail. I’ll shoot them an e-mail.
I. I. I.
That is so wrong on so many levels.
I fall victim to it a lot.
And worse yet, I have had some amazing examples of living in community in my day.
I grew up in southwest Michigan in a little neighborhood at the river’s edge. Ten homes total in the middle of nowhere, really. River to the south, corn fields to the north.
I loved growing up there.
There are so many examples of the “’Ville” (as it was affectionately known – short for Village) functioning as a tight knit community – family really – that I am riddled with guilt over how far from grace I’ve fallen in this area of my life.
I had access to just about any house there, anytime I wanted.
I called most of the grown ups there Aunt or Uncle because that’s just how close we were. My parents could count on them for anything and vise versa.
I would often bike to Aunt Helen’s and just sit and chat or sit on the back porch with Paul and Maxine. Just a little kid talking with adults whose children had grown. The neighborhood kids were more like siblings and Jack and Lou filled a grandparent gap when mine were tucked away back in Iowa.
It was fun.
It was family.
It was the greatest example I know of living in community.
One winter we had a real blizzard, the kind where you can’t get out for weeks. The Ville came together to help each other out.
In fact, I can still see that day so vividly that it’s like it happened yesterday. Three and a half feet of snow on the ground in one GIANT snowfall and the neighbors came out and either shoveled or used a snow blower to get one small walking path to everyone’s home. I can see Dad and Jack hopping on snowmobiles to try and get to town to get food for everyone. And the giant neighborhood potluck where we pooled what we had and ate like kings.
That snowfall was so fast and so much that it was a week before the plows made it to my neighborhood and two weeks before I went back to school. And the entire time we worked together and made sure everyone was taken care of and had a blast doing it.
That was just our way of life in the Ville.
When my grandpa was sick, the neighborhood came together and took care of me and my brother while my dad worked so my mom could go to Iowa to be with him.
When my dad’s job moved us to Phoenix for training for a year, the neighborhood kept watch over our house until we returned.
We celebrated graduations, weddings, and warm summer days together.
I just don’t see it happening today.
How sad is that?
I want my kids to live in a world where this is the norm and not the exception. I want them to know they can lean on more than just family. To know that friendships are to be treasured and that life is so much sweeter when we live it together.
It is definitely easier to live life as a hermit.
But is that the life you really want?
I may never be able to replicate life in the Ville but I owe it to my kids to die trying.