I realized something yesterday as my dad and PastorJosh battled wasps with a can of aerosol hairspray, a pool skimmer and a stick: some of the best shows don't charge admission.
Of course, the day we open the pool is always an event--wasps aside. It requires a minimum of six people (we had seven and a baby yesterday), and generally, someone "accidentally" ends up in the pool. (Yesterday that person was NumNum-the-Wonder-Child who managed to slip in while we were letting her dangle her feet over the edge. She's a sneaky one.) When our tasks were accomplished, we all sat around the dinner table and laughed manically over stupid stories or antics.
It's community. And a sweet reminder of Wednesday night dinners of yore. (I'm introducing new vocabulary words to the blog. You're welcome.) But that experience also made me think that shared community isn't all shared meals, swatting wasps as a team and laughing. Sometimes it looks significantly less "shiny, happy people."
Earlier this week, PastorJosh tweeted, "Being a critic isn't a spiritual gift." It hit me, because, truthfully, the same community that allows for shared happiness also means direct access to the crazy ins and outs of individual personalities. And direct access often leads to commentary. Personal commentary. About other people. And their situations. Which are none of our business. Most of the time.
At the end of the year, one of my students commented that I was really great at constantly telling her where her papers needed improvement, but I wasn't so great at telling her how she had improved from the last paper. She isn't wrong. I've spent most of my academic career learning how to critically assess material and comment on those assessments. I'm good at it because I've had a lot of practice. And more times than not, I find myself using those same critical assessment skills to evaluate other people or their life decisions even when I need them to grant me graciousness for mine.
But the tenor of my community has shifted. The people who have partnered with me are less willing to laugh over criticism as my spiritual gift. They don't make light of the serious. I'm learning what it looks like to love. And God is gently reminding me about my call to encouragement even when it's counter to most aspects of my personality.
Like most other things, I'm sure I'll be writing through this process.
Right now, I'm just thankful God is still working on my heart. I'm praying He'll help my unbelief.