When Community is an Elusive Neighbor

by | Apr 27, 2012 | Five Minute Friday

I have known community as a faithful friend sitting crossed legged on shag carpet around wedding magazines and dreams.

I have known community around tables strewn with notes and books stacked tall at yogurt shops, campus libraries and dorm rooms. When late night pizza runs with cars squeezed tight with silliness, it just fit into routine.

I have known community seated in borrowed couches alongside emerging leaders from around the globe as missionaries. Late night card parties, outreach trips in mini vans, group Christmas tree hunts and a cross-country move to start a new work. We did it together.

I have known community among weary mothers. At parks pushing swings, in backyard pools, beside  plastic cities at McDonalds, and on the couches of tiny fingerprints.

I have known community among the women whose eyes look to mine for direction. In small groups, behind podiums, holding clipboards, and in the corporate bowing of heads.

Today community is an elusive neighbor that looks out her window and rarely stands at the curb holding her coffee. She sits in her recliner turning the pages on the scrapbooks of yesterday wondering how she became invisible, why that word hurts her heart every time she reads it.

I have known community that looks you in the eyes and finishes your sentences. Today I know community as the loving, life giving conversations on glowing screens at my desk and in my pocket. And I’m shadowing Paul, learning to be content in all situations.

 I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.  ~Philippians 4:12



 What does community look like for you? Are you content with her?

Linking with Lisa-Jo for Five Minute Friday with the one word prompt: Community.

Subscribe for Shelly’s stories and free resources here: https://shellymillerwriter.com/free-resources/


  1. dailydwelling

    I’m right there with you…learning to be content.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Glad to know I am in good company. Nice to meet you!

  2. tara pohlkotte

    you hit on it here… i have had seasons of close and meaningful community. and then, they are gone. some happen naturally, some with pain. In between each community i have long periods of none. and it is hard. yet, once i’m through those places, i know how that time of standing alone really transformed pieces of my heart that lead me to my next chapter. my next community. for me, it is about redefining my expectations of community. some seasons, it’s ok for it to just be “unity”. xoxoxo but, for the record, i call you to me as a friend. even if the miles divide us.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Tara, I can relate to all you said here. I have learned how to redefine my expectations of community and realize it won’t ever fully fulfill, no matter how wonderful it is. And so glad to call you heart friend across the miles.

  3. r.elliott

    Oh shelly…I wrote of this very thing today…seasons in our lives change…and so do community…I have known many different ways to do community…this last season has been a stretch for me…but what I am learning is so valuable….blessings to you as God creates His community in your life…

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I think that I had the wrong view early on that community would always exist the way it did in the beginning. But as time goes on, things change and so does the way community looks. Mostly, I have had to shift my expectations.

  4. Smart Creative Women

    Morning Shelly! Nice post. Community does take on many forms. I think I view community as someone who has your back. My physical neighbors look after my house when I am gone, help remove tree limbs when the fall. My longstanding girlfriends ease my worry over my children understand my family “issues”. My on line community is a place where we cheer each others passions on, because we understand each others callings and talents in a unique way.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Monica, what a treat to see you in the comments! I agree about how you see community. I think we have had seasons, because of moving many times, where we didn’t have anyone that had our back. People assume leaders are in community when sometimes they are the ones who experience the most loneliness.

  5. kd sullivan

    Commune – unity. Who do I partake of Christ with? His Blood and Body?…His sun and sky? When I share manna from heaven I am in communion with Him.

  6. Dea

    Holding a cup of coffee right now. Wishing we were sitting on the back porch listening to the pines sounding like the ocean as they toss about in the wind or walking the sand with you listening to the real thing. These are the bittersweet things about “this place, yes? Someday…eternity will stretch out before us and we know community perfected. What a day that will be!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      That sounds like a little slice of heaven Dea. Sitting on the porch with our steamy cups and sharing real life. Someday, I hope to friend. Thanks for being here.

  7. Leslie Durham

    It seems that these days community can be an elusive thing. I find myself hungering for deeper community. I have been the elusive neighbor for so long and find myself in the new season of daring to experience rejection in the search for community. Ah, the fear of rejection, perhaps that is why we hold oursleves apart from community. I’ll have to think on that some more . . .

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I think that sometimes our experiences in life can be a handicap. For me, starting over every time we move to build community takes consistent reaching out on my part. Sometimes rejection comes with it, but sometimes life long friendships.

  8. Paula

    You’ll never be “invisible” to me. I have experienced that longing for community in different life-changing periods too……but am learning to be content with all.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      It looks different at every stage of life, doesn’t it? So glad you love me.

  9. broadsideblog

    It’s an interesting question and one I have blogged about several times. My blog followers (like yours) have become one of my communities. I think the happiest among us have multiple communities which may or may not overlap. They feed and nurture the different parts of ourselves — mine include church, a softball team, my jazz dance classmates and pool aerobics posse.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      You bring up a good point. As we grow and change, so does community. And like you, I have several different groups that are autonomous but fulfilling nonetheless. Thanks for contributing to the conversation. It is really nice to meet you.

  10. Eileen Knowles (@cupojoegirl)

    Shelly, I can feel the heart ache in your words. You are right, we do go seasons where the community seems to be lacking. And it’s hard. Thank you for your honesty. By the way, I’ve had that Philippians verse taped to my bathroom mirror for 8 years…I plan on leaving it there until I am living it out on a daily basis…I think it will be there until I die. 🙂

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Contentment, I guess we will be working on that one together . . .all of our days. Thanks for visiting me on Fridays. Have enjoyed getting to know you Eileen and appreciate your kind words and tweets.

  11. caallyn

    I sat in community last Sunday evening where a group of young adults gathered in our home sharing nachos and some cake. Following that they asked to pray for us, over us for our trip to Ethiopia. As they prayed, a prayer bead necklace was being made. Each person that offered a prayer added beads to the string building something that I would take with me/us. And when I wear that circle of assorted beads I will know that we are held up in prayer. I have never been so moved or humbled. This is our community.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      What a beautiful picture of community Celeste. Thanks for sharing that and I am so glad to know you are being held up in prayer by this kind of generous community. What a gift!

  12. simplystriving

    Contentedness in community…yes. that’s worth striving for.
    Wonderful 5 minute write as always, friend! so blessed to be among your community here!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Yes it is, isn’t it. I am not throwing in the towel!

  13. Kim Jones

    Shelly, when I read your posts, I feel your soul. I wish we could meet. It’s crazy but you always reach me and seem to hit me right where I am struggling at the moment! After reading this I feel an incredible need to hug you IN PERSON! Here’s a cyber hug anyway. May God bless you today and always.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Kim, what a gift to know this. And how lovely that would be, to meet in person. I feel your hug in the sweet, generous words you have given me here. You can always email me, shelly@redemptionsbeauty.com if you want to talk beyond this box.

  14. Sandra Heska King

    Can you feel my hug coming through the screen? I can’t wait to share some face-to-face community with you in September!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Yes, I can feel it and I thank you for caring Sandy. So glad to call you friend. And I can’t wait either, so excited to know you are planning to go too. Yay!

  15. Colline

    I have felt community when I have been given that unexpected helping hand. A helping hand that I have often offered to others.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Lovely Colline. I hadn’t thought about that and so glad you expanded my thinking.

  16. path of treasure

    So many of us long for it, and it is elusive. There are definitely seasons when that community just isn’t there. Online, I read stories of women in groups that seem to have that kind of authentic community, and then I read stories of people still longing to find that community. But I suspect (though I have no hard numbers or facts) that for most, community is still a longing, not a reality.

    Sometimes, it begins with me. I don’t like rejection any more than anyone else does, so I might hold back. But there have also been occasions when I’ve been the one who has had to take the first step, because someone had to do it. And then I have to be patient, because it can take time to build trust.
    Beautiful post.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I am so appreciative of your comment, I have read it several times to digest what you have said here. I think you are probably right, that for most, community is still a longing, not a reality. And maybe that has more to do with our expectations. I also agree, that I have to be willing to make the first move and work at building it. Thanks for adding these rich thoughts to the conversation.

  17. Laura

    Great descriptions. They sing with truth. And right now, as the in-person community God has me is filled with new moms who find my elementary momhood confusing, I ask, God help me forget myself and bless these ladies.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Being flexible with open hands, its the best way to approach community isn’t it? Thanks Laura, appreciate your thoughts and knowing this is where you are right now in community.

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