Life in Community

It's Wednesday, which for the majority of this semester meant that i would make homemade doughnuts for my roommates. We would finish dinner, Allie and Trey would put the kids to bed, Tommy and Benny would do whatever Tommy and Benny do, and i would stand by the stove turning biscuit dough into fried happiness. 

This semester i chose the unconventional. When i decided to move back to Jackson, to continue to pursue my degree, and walk into what i thought would be a season of redemption, i decided that i couldn't live in a dorm again. i looked for a house in the area and long story short, i found one. It wasn't in Clinton and it wasn't with other MC students and it wasn't anything like you'd expect to find my hyper-introverted self calling home. In January, i moved to Mamalone's house on Lyncrest Ave, where i became one of its seven residents. 

There are logistics that lead us all to that house on Lyncrest, but logistics don't matter. At the core, we all made a decision to live in community. We chose to do what is unconventional and weird and often laughed at. And one by one, all of our boxes from all of our previous homes were unpacked and we, separately and together, started to call that house our home. 

We moved into the house in phases: Benny first, Tommy next, then Trey, Allie, and the girls, and I was last. We were all settled in January, as Allie worked to turn Benny and Tommy's grandma-esque bachelor pad into a place for a family and a single woman (that's me) to feel at home in. It was an adjustment for all of us. 

People would always ask me how it was and i never really gave an answer. i think all of us could agree that the answer to that question depended on the day. All of us, from the one year-old to the twenty five year-olds, had different experiences and feelings and thoughts and needs (the one year-old would display her needs by screeching) and the way our needs and feelings and thoughts were processed and dealt with internally and externally influenced how we felt about the whole situation. And when there are seven different humans with different thoughts, feelings, needs, and the like-- things can get messy. But things can also be beautiful. Like i said: it depended on the day. 

We all chose to live inconvenienced by one another. When we were given the green light for me to move in, none of us expected it to be easy. But we didn't care. We knew that the Father had lead us there--to that house and to each other--so we did it. We wholeheartedly chose to do life, the everyday ins and outs and in between, the meals and the cleaning and the late-night TV, together. 

So, what was it like? When i think about this semester, that house, and those roommates, i'll think about a lot of different things. Tonight, i'm going to share some of them. It'll only give you a tiny picture of what it was like. 

Living in community is a choice. It's inconvenient. It's seeing each other in the mornings when you don't want to talk and at night when you can't sleep. It's endless amounts of coffee--and endless conversations about coffee. It's too many Chemex's and not enough space. It's the botanical table that is covered in my plants that i never watered (thanks Allie). It's groceries for five grown humans and two tiny ones. It's joining each other wherever the other is at-- because if one person can only afford chicken and rice then the others only can too. 

We saw everyone in every mood. Living in community doesn't mean putting on a happy face for all of your roommates. It's honesty. It's late night talks on the couch and admitting what's wrong. It's attempting to hide what's wrong and often failing. It's silent frustration. It is dishes in the sink and a full, clean dishwasher that no one will touch (again). It's a dirty bathroom that can't get clean no matter how hard we try. It's writing your name on food (okay.. i am the only one that did that). It's meals as a family, silently assigned seats and all. It's prayer-- together and separately and sometimes not at all.

It was early mornings. Choosing community meant, in a way, choosing each others schedules. It meant boundaries for bedtimes and grace for mornings. It was learning how to be an aunt and giving part of my heart to two little girls. It was My Little Pony and BB8 and Disney. It was climbing in a too-small tent with a tiny friend and a full sized friend and waiting for the "monster" to come get us. It was margaritas and beer and boxed wine (not all at the same time). It was praying that the people remembered to close the door to the living room and never understanding why the door to the kitchen gets stuck. It was learning-- about each other and seasons and children and so much more. It was a group message and cash app. It was depending on each other and loving each other despite everything else.

For me, it was healing. It was brothers that love well and laugh with me. It was a sister, something completely foreign but so fun and new. It was watching a healthy marriage. It was learning to trust. It was letting them in. It was experiencing family in the fullness of love, mess, and frustration. It was learning things i didn't know i needed to. It was praying that i will get to be a mom. It was thanking Jesus that i get to know those incredible humans. It was seeing Jesus in them and hoping they see Jesus in me.

It was laughter. It was life, in every way. It was family, despite last names or hometowns or age. But most of all, living in community was grace. 

The only way it worked was grace. It didn't work because we were all the perfect roommates, but because we knew we weren't. It worked because of the Spirit that lives in all of us, the One that was able to wash away frustration and anger and apathy (because trust me, there was a lot of that). Grace that covered the hair on the sink and the overflowing garbage and the messy living room. Grace that covers all of our sins. Grace that lets us love each other.

i moved out of that house on Lyncrest two weeks ago. i left with a full heart and a new family that i will never forget. i moved out because of the season of life that i am in, but i promise that leaving wasn't easy. 

It's Wednesday night and i wish i was sitting on the floor with those humans eating doughnuts. i miss them and i think i always will. Because choosing the unconventional was hard and weird and full, but it was a gift.