Most of my twenty-something friends are struggling right now. Many of the people I share life with are experiencing consistent anxiety and fear for the future. We’ve each come to a place in life that we haven’t imagined for ourselves. We had some idea of what grade school, high school, and maybe college would be. Now we’re solidly in our twenties and it feels stark in a way we didn’t expect.
I’d like to be living each day full of love, joy, and mercy but most days I count it a success to move my laundry from the washer to the dryer or send my rent check in on time. Life has been heavy. We’re all working through the heaviness the best that we can and recently an experience within my Christian community helped me gain some perspective.
A few weeks ago my housemates and I cared for the 3 children of our married friends. We were asked to jump into their family life and parent their kids (ages 4 and younger) for a little longer than a weekend. It first struck me as an unusual and big request. I love sharing life in community, but this was a little more than attending a weekly dinner or running errands for someone. That stuff feels safe. But we all agreed to do it because we love our friends and their children. I remember considering that although the job could be overwhelming, it might be a nice break from my personal anxieties.
I was both right and wrong. The days were a refreshing break from usual concerns and stress. I was wrong because it wasn’t a big, unusual request. The chance to care for the kids was a precious gift. I was invited into their life, their busy, joyful, bright life. It was energizing and full of love and mercy and joy, the exact things I’m hungry for but often can’t muster on my own. I gave something of myself which reminded me that I’m stronger than I think, and I received something as I experienced the goodness of my friends’ life up close.
I know where they keep there dishes, what their 4 year old likes to talk about at 6am, and how long the bedtime routine takes if the 2 year old does it “all by myself!” I savored the goodness of their life and left eager to look for the particular beauty of my own life. Their family received something beyond a few days of care for their kids too. Their children now have four more adults who will smile down at them, savor their joy, and remind them to keep their feet off the table at dinner. We’re all connected in a new way and it’s because two people invited four young women into their everyday.
Invite someone into your life this Advent. Ask a friend over for dinner and let them stay to clean up and put the kids to bed with you. Ask someone to do your chores with you or travel or pray with you. We need each other at scheduled dinners and gatherings, but we also need each other in the everyday moments of life. Community is about knowing and being known. That’s where the love, mercy, and joy are found.