This blog has become a chronicle of disillusionment and for this, I must say I am not sorry. The discipline of disillusionment, or perhaps a better way to say it would be the space for disillusionment, is crucial for intentional community. Intentional community is a sexy, trendy idea right now, for whatever reason. And most of what we do is very unsexy and untrendy. We’re not saving the world, we’re struggling just to be friends.
But I think the destruction of the illusion of what friendship means actually makes space for the simple friendship the gospel calls for. Friendship with God and with each other that sneaks or darts or blows past our self-imposed boundaries of invulnerability and the ungrounded, bloated self-esteem of our culture. In short, it makes space for what Enuma Okoro states when she speaks of friendship as “seeing and being seen.”
I have best friends. And I love them. And we do those things that best friends do. We visit, we eat together, we share our stories, we sit on the porch and talk. And they’re a calming, steady presence in my life. But they also change me. I am a different person because of them. And that’s not always easy.
Because amidst the meals, and the laughter, and the vacations, they tell me things I don’t want to hear. They tell me things about my actions that are hurtful. They call me out when I’m denying something I know to be true. They hold me accountable to Christ who has claimed my life. And when they have to tell me these things, they cry, because they know they are hurting me and they don’t want to do that.
But they have also spent years seeing me. And because they have seen me and allowed me to see them, because we have spent years beside each other through both incredibly difficult and incredibly joyful parts of our lives they know who I am. They have never shied away from either pain or joy that was too intense. And because they see me and they know me, they know who God created me to be. And they hold me to that person, even when it means painful conversations. Because of them and the community we’ve created, we all have courage to attempt to be the people God created us to be. We have the courage to be transformed.
And this what God wants with us and for us. A simple and courageous friendship that consists of seeing and being seen in a way that transforms us. This is the goal. It’s not about feeling good or stroking one’s ego, although it is sometimes about affirming and shoring up. But it is about friendship that transforms. And that word, transform, is what we have to be open to not only as members of an intentional community, but as Christians.