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Thursday, August 23, 2012

why i live in community

Sometimes I have a difficult time explaining to people why Paul and I live in community.  If I'm venting about frustrations to someone outside the community, the response I usually receive is "why don't you just move out?" To be honest, I've asked myself the same question.  With the challenges of community life, you really have to be dedicated and have a reason for staying.  So, what is keeping us here?  

An answer came to me last night while I was talking with one of my friends at the community garden pruning tomatoes - the place where all great thoughts are revealed.  Before I even realized what I was saying, I started talking about how moving around so frequently in the past few years has allowed me to avoid working through many difficult parts in relationships.  Just around the point when I'm starting to get to an overall level of annoyance with where I'm at, I have the opportunity to move, and I never have to work through those feelings of annoyance.  

This year, I've had to face many uncomfortable and challenging situations head on.  There's only so many places to hide when you're living in an apartment with three other people.  I've had to grow past my tendency to run from conflict like the plague.  I've had to learn how to resolve problems so that we can continue living as community members and have a peaceful household.  I've had to grow in honestly and non-violently expressing my feelings and in admitting when I'm wrong.  While visiting my family in St. Louis last weekend, a few things happened that helped me realize I've made progress in dealing with conflict and uncomfortable situations.  "Oh my God!" I thought, "I'm GROWING!"  Staying committed to this community has broken the cycle of being able to avoid uncomfortable parts of relationships.   

While learning healthy ways to deal with conflict resolution isn't the only reason I'm living in community, it's an example of how living in community can help lead to personal growth - if you're willing to commit and stick with it when things get tough.  I've got a LONG way to go, but living in community has helped me kick start my journey to being a better person.

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