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Lost and Found

I’ve found that genuine community develops in the most unlikely places, and that when it shows up, it’s an unexpected gift to be treasured. Sort of like when you’re briskly walking down the sidewalk, and there, defiantly pushing through a crack in the downtown concrete, is a nondescript yellow flower. You don’t know where it came from or how it managed to survive its hostile climate, but all the same its small offering of beauty makes you smile.

I’ve found that genuine community develops in the most unlikely places, and that when it shows up, it’s an unexpected gift to be treasured. Sort of like when you’re briskly walking down the sidewalk, and there, defiantly pushing through a crack in the downtown concrete, is a nondescript yellow flower. You don’t know where it came from or how it managed to survive its hostile climate, but all the same its small offering of beauty makes you smile.

My husband, Jason, and I moved to Dallas two years ago. Idealistic, newly married, and filled with the anticipation of things to come, we began putting our plans into action. Unpack the boxes—check. Find jobs—check. Start graduate school—check. Decorate the apartment with unique finds, throw fabulous dinner parties, and develop life-long friendships in our new community—items all still in process.

Unfortunately, no one warned me how slowly the friend-finding-and-making process progresses post-college. I was not prepared for the feelings of loneliness and fear that clung to me like a damp rag. Instead of my cell phone beeping with text messages detailing the plans for Friday night, the apartment was just quiet. Jason and I found ourselves longing for the companionship of other couples accentuated by a keen sense that we were searching for something. Ourselves? Friends to share our lives with? The contentment and security that comes from feeling at home?

If I were to wrap up that season of tumultuous emotions and thoughts into just one word, I’d say that we were searching for community. Late night calls to that friend who knows you better than you know yourself. Cards that read, “Just because I care…” Meals shared amidst laughter and abundant quantities of salsa. The prayer, the hug, the words of encouragement that get you through the week and help you to remember that we were gifted by our Creator with an insatiable capacity to love and be loved.

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but Jason and I watched all six seasons of Lost, over 115 episodes, this summer. Besides being an absorbing TV show that leaves you conjecturing, Lost became a cult phenomenon in part because it highlights the universal need for community. We either “live together or die alone.” In their best moments, the survivors of Oceanic 815 thought and behaved as one cohesive band of people on journey together. They experienced pain, loss, and grief as a family and celebrated triumph, renewal, and birth as close friends. They did simple things for one another, like sharing food rummaged from the jungle, and performed noble deeds of self-sacrifice, even going so far as Charlie laying down his life for the safety of the others. Although each character was tragically flawed and broken, they learned to conquer their personal demons and obstacles together. And ultimately, they became one.

The surprising element for Jason and me in all of this guilt-inducing TV-watching was that by having Lost watching parties with another couple, we actually deepened our own sense of community. For four months we were all characters in the same unfolding saga and were carried along by the anticipation of what followed the bold LOST that flashed on the black screen at the culmination of each episode. Somewhere in between being invited into our friends’ home, lounging on their sofa in our “comfy” clothes with mouths full of popcorn, and exchanging DVDs with gasps of “Did you ever guess…?” I realized that we were sharing our lives and ourselves with one another. And when the final episode of the series faded to white, I knew that something had changed. I had finally found what I was looking for.

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Tiffany Stein

Tiffany is the Women's Ministry Coordinator at Irving Bible Church, and a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary. A proud, native Texan, she and her husband, Jason, live in Grapevine, Texas. She is passionate about advancing the God-given value of women and helping women to embrace their unique identity in Christ. She serves as a board member for the Association for Women in Ministry Professionals (AWMP) and served for the past 3 years on the leadership team for Polish Ministries, a ministry dedicated to helping young professional women connect their faith with their career.

4 Comments

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    SonShine

    Lost amidst the sea of humanity
    Hi There Tiffany
    IT seems that this week is the week to ponder community, friendships, a longing for friendships! You and Jamie hit the nail on the head…we must seek out and find those friends if we want them. Solomon wisely wrote (GEA paraphrase)”if you want a friend,…you must first be a friend”. So amidst the watching of the LOST episodes and in a new “land” …whether it be here or Taiwan…we are told to first be a friend. So with 6 moves under my belt and a schedule that defies any sense of logic, it is time for me to step out of my office after a year and half and begin…I hope I don’t have to watch LOST to make it happen. Thanks for the gentle reminder—both you and Jamie…that it must first begin “at home” with Jesus and me and then to reach beyond the Jerusalem of the office to the Samaria and beyond.
    Good thoughts….
    GEA

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    Sue Bohlin

    God’s gift of community

    Great blog post, Tiffany! It is so true that we only thrive in community, and real friendships are built one experience, one contact, at a time. The easy kind of Facebook friending is a sad counterfeit to the real thing, and can set us up for all kinds of discontent and frustration. Thanks for describing what it's like to need and not have community. . . and the difference it makes when you develop it. 

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    Dianne Miller

    you captured all our longing=community

    great thoughts Tiffany…I believe that we all hunger for community because we were created for it…and without it we are indeed traveling through life LOST…thanks for a great reminder today …blessings..

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    Gwynne Johnson

    So true
    Thanks Tiffany for articulating a common but painful truth. A great reminder to be alert to others new in our world.

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