I have a huge immediate and extended family, something I have always considered to be a blessing in my life. My siblings are my friends, our parents are a huge support to us and there is always someone there. From friends to family to the women of my church and even to the connections and friendships I’ve made with mothers online, I am surrounded by a sea of individuals who support, love and look out for me and my family. They triumph and grieve with us. They celebrate with us, accept us and cheer for us. They genuinely care and their concern is true. This is what community looks like in my own life. What a blessing!
But not everyone’s lives look like mine, I definitely know that. We all find support from different sources and for a lot of people it extends further than family. I’ve had my own experiences of living far from loved ones and feeling desperately alone only to find comfort in the community of mothers on Instagram and blogging. I’ve experienced what it feels like to have my best friend dote on my newborn baby, complete with everything he could ever need, because my own mama was living hundreds of miles away. Really I could go on and on. But I suppose my point is, community can be found in many many different ways.
We cannot, neither are we supposed to, go through life alone. We were given each other to lift and strengthen each other and our connection to one another and the way we love each other on this journey is so very important. We must be open to letting others serve us, to let them love us, and give the same in return. That is where the magic happens.
Last week my sister called me and we talked about a painful experience that one of our family members is going through and we cried together over the phone for that person. The tears literally would not stop. All day long I would think about it and my heart was aching from the sadness I felt for her. I was truly feeling for her. As I sat to write about this topic, my mind kept coming back to this raw and real experience and I realized that that is what community means to me. It means love in the most unconditional way. It means truly looking out for each other and seeing the needs of someone else. Sometimes it’s everything just to say you understand or not to say anything at all. To hurt and grieve with each other and just be there to feel for one another, through the good and challenging of life moments.
The times I am on the receiving end of this means more to me than anything in the world. It’s solidified my relationships and proved to me that I am not alone, ever. It impacts my heart so much, I then just want to provide that for someone else.
There was a season in my life when I completely shut down emotionally. It was all I could do to keep relationships and experiences surface level. To not let any one in and to refuse help, comfort or connection. And you can guess that all I felt was complete loneliness and isolation. I felt so disconnected from people and my experiences. The more I began to open my heart again and allowed myself to feel, I was able to see the blessing of community, friendship and support. Not only was I able to reap the beautiful benefits from another person loving and serving me, but I was able to offer that to others once again. And that is the part that I believe changes us. The part where we can truly offer parts of ourselves is what molds us into more compassionate, empathetic human beings who are able to serve and live in love.
The sling I am wearing in these photos is the color Black Currant and was borrowed from my beautiful friend Tiffany, a previous Sling Diarists, one of my best friends and the amazing photographer who took these photos for us.