Our need for genuine connection
As I sit here all cosy, in our big house near the sea, I reflect that it’s been 9 months since my husband and I moved into a community-living season. After we moved in with two people who shared our heart for community-living, there was a practical merging that needed to take place; of learning each other, respecting differences and learning to honour each other for who we are.
We had to learn to live together and gradually a harmony between us was developed.
We were never meant to be islands, and yet that seems to be what the nuclear family model has created a sense of today. I see and feel the ache of people for connection every time I open Facebook. It seems like loneliness and a need for support and to be validated are the needs of people’s hearts these days.
It seems that social media selfies and posts have become our means to try validating ourselves and our existence, rather than reaching for God and seeking his love, acceptance and sense of purpose for us. People are defaulting to connecting online now, rather than connecting face to face and experiencing genuine connection.
But what does this social media world achieve? Does it make you truly feel special or connected, or that your life counts for something? Does it fill the ache in your heart for community and validation?
We need to change the culture
When I was a little girl my mum would just turn up at friend’s houses spontaneously, and I would end up playing with the children of whoever’s house we were at and having a glorious imaginative time. The primary school I went to had a strong sense of connection and community, even street games like storm the lantern with all the neighbourhood kids.
It seems we have lost some of this old school connection and become a bit of an individualistic or insular society. Conversations with strangers in the supermarket and even smiles with others on the beach seem to be less accepted, despite people’s growing ache for connection. Perhaps we need courage to bring back some of the old courtesies and the sense that we are all in this life together.
Perhaps we need to bring back the idea of getting to know our neighbours and reaching out to people beyond who we already know.
I have met several people lately who are also exploring the idea of community living and have a vision of sharing life, land, food and raising kids together in a shared community.
One family expressed a feeling of dissatisfaction from the nuclear family model, and are searching out people with the same heart to step into their community dream.
The Acts church
The model of the early church was one of radical community. Acts chapter 2 says that the believers shared everything they had and gave to whoever needed it most. Their focus was on Christ and living out the gospel in a radical loving community.
It says they devoted themselves to fellowship, godly teaching, the breaking of bread, meals together and prayer. Acts chapter 4 speaks of an incredible unity among the believers, of one heart and purpose.
I have such peace over the step that my husband and I have taken towards community-living and for me the experience has been a positive change. I was lonely before this season, especially as my husband used to travel a huge amount for work.
Now in community,I feel happier, supported and have a sense of belonging. I appreciate the sense of connection and being in a ‘house family’ with two thoughtful, generous, fun-loving and witty people who crack jokes all the time. We have all supported each other through quite a lot in a short time.
The experience has also personally made me examine my character, values and expectations and challenged me to grow into a woman who extends grace and love more freely.
As we are all creatives, we have started in-house creative nights and are exploring what it can look like to support each other’s creative goals and dreams and create together, in one space. Between the four of us we are musicians, songwriters, poets, dancer and an artist.
We have jammed worship songs with the djembe, guitar and vocal harmonies whilst Justin has painted live and I have danced. These times, although rare, are like a taste of heavenly creative community.
Let God validate you
Living in community has also made me realise how much I need to maintain balance between people time and prayer with Jesus time. I have learnt the importance more than ever of continually going to God to fill me up each day.
I believe that the highest need we have as humans is to know we are loved and were made for a purpose. Our desire for love and validation was supposed to propel us to run into the arms of our creator.
Not into the endless scrolling of Facebook which unfortunately won’t give us what we are so desiring and craving. Community and genuine connection is Jesus’ way - after Holy Spirit fell at Pentecost the early church formed a radical loving community. More importantly, communing with the Lord is an essential daily connection that we were made for.
Liana Monaghan is a creative soul, living in coastal South Australia. She is married to an artist Justin and part of the church community at Tree of Life.
Liana is a passionate and creative soul, living in South Australia and married to her artist husband of 12 years, Justin. Liana is an early childhood educator and also writes, sings, occasionally dances, loves nature, is a psalmist and runs a women's ministry.