Thursday, March 22, 2012

Worth the Risk: Community in the Windy City

Have you ever felt lonely even when you're surrounded by people? Have you ever moved to a new city and been homesick?

These feelings are often the result of not being in true community.

After writing this week's post on vulnerability, I began thinking about when I first recognized the importance of community.

During the fall of my junior year, I spent the semester in Chicago doing an internship for college credit at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Although John was at Wheaton College during this time, I was still an hour and a 43 floor elevator ride from him most days. I was 19 and had never lived alone in a big city. Learning how to use the bus system to get to work and remembering to only buy as much at the grocery store that I could carry home were just the beginning of life lessons that semester.

John and I in the Windy City

What I quickly realized is that unless I got involved, my only community would be from 9-5 at work. So I ventured a block away to Moody Church to check out their college group. Everyone here was extremely welcoming, but one girl in particular - Amanda is her name - completely changed my Chicago experience. Because even though Amanda already had a group of friends and was married, she welcomed me into her life and her home.

Here's what I learned about community and loving your neighbor from Amanda:

  • I was embraced as if I were a lifelong friend, even though I'd only known Amanda a couple of weeks. 
  • Hospitality is critical for community.  By Amanda opening up her home to me, we had the opportunity to talk, laugh, and share experiences. 
  • Both of us took a risk to be friends. What I mean by this is that we connected on a deep level even though I'd be leaving after the semester was over. Many people don't want to "put themselves out there" because relationships are often transient. But you miss out on so much growth and community if you only play it safe. I'm not suggesting to spill your life to anyone and everyone. You definitely need to be wise about who you trust, but you also have to trust that the community that vulnerability brings is well worth it.


  1. Oh you sweet lady. Thank you for encouraging me with your words. I praise God that He used me to minister to you! All for Jesus! Miss you, by the way. Can we have a phone date?! :)

  2. I'm visiting from (in)courage! I live in a university town, so completely relate to not wanting to take a risk on a friendship with those will only be leaving in a year or two. You've challenged me to pay no attention to the length of stay but to show true community to ALL around me.

    1. So glad it could be an encouragement to you! I think a lot of women (including me!) are hesitant to invest so much time, energy, and emotions for fear that the relationship won't last a lifetime. Yet God brings different people into our lives for various reasons and amounts of time. Can't wait to hear your story someday about a brief, yet significant friendship!