Well, who knew that a project based entirely on people being in relationship with each other would take time, patience and sometimes and incredible amount of frustration? This project has amazing and exciting potential, but the fact of the matter is we’re just not there yet. And that’s frustrating.
We’ve been here about a month and a half now and, while we’ve made great strides at setting up our house, setting up a morning prayer schedule, eating together, etc., we’re just not quite best friends forever yet.
Don’t get me wrong, we like each other just fine. Everyone in the house and the church gets along for the most part. We say hi when we bump into each other in town (which, in a town of 2,000 people, is quite often). We’ve even set up intentional “partnerships” to encourage relationships between the women in the house and the congregation at Blackburn’s Chapel. If we weren’t focusing on intentional community, our relational life would be just fine. We are normal church friends.
But that’s not enough.
We’re not content to be normal church friends. We’re not content with small talk in town. We want something more, something deeper. We want intentional Christian friendship. Not the kind of friendship that comes from sending or accepting a “friend request.” Not the kind of friendship that is afraid of meddling, or being in someone else’s business. Not even the kind of friendship that avoids confrontation and frustration. But we want friendship that might begin to mirror the kind of friendship God wants with us. The kind that starts with commitment and grows from there.
Now, I’m not sure what “intentional Christian friendship” looks like, but I think it starts with frustration. The frustration that comes with knowing something wonderful is happening, but isn’t ready yet.
It’s sort of like when my mom used to cook dinner in the crock pot all day. My brother and sister and I would sit in the house just smelling whatever my mom had thrown in there that morning. It was torture because mom’s crock pot dinners were amazing. But we knew we had to wait until it was done cooking before we could eat it.
I think that’s what intentional community looks like, that torturous and anxious waiting. The aroma of the Kingdom is there. We know something beautiful, something that mirrors God’s Kingdom, is on the horizon, but it’s just not ready yet. And so we are frustrated. But that frustration is a comfort in that it comes from a place that expects more, that yearns for more, that urges us to, as a parishioner put it, ‘simply keep keeping on.’ And so we’re keeping on here, frustrated, hopeful, humbled and comforted.
And a little hungry now, too.