Your Tribe: The Benefits Of Community

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We all have situations in our lives, whether they are moments or episodes or situations that last days, weeks, months, or even years, we ALL have them.  When these crises arise, we can choose to keep them to ourselves or we can seek prayer and comfort from others.  I don’t think we need to be a total open book but I do believe that God called us to be in community in order for us to encourage and support one another.  That is reason enough for me!

The Beginning . . . 

After our first child was born, I experienced what today is called postpartum depression.  We were so excited for this precious baby to arrive and with only two weeks left before the expected “due” date, August 6, I took a leave of absence from my job and we worked on all of the final preparations to be ready for our baby’s birth.  August 6 came and went.  August 13 came and went.  August 20 and August 27, came and went.  September 3 AND September 10 passed by and still NO baby.  It is important to note that I am speaking of an event that was 46 years ago!  So much has changed in science and technology;  I’m quite certain that in today’s world this would never happen.  Just so you know, the much anticipated delivery date finally arrived.  I began a natural labor or September 11 and our beautiful baby boy was delivered on September 12, 1973.  It was a day we had so anxiously awaited and we were abundantly blessed by the birth of our healthy little guy, Joseph Eli Miller.  He was perfect, beautiful, and everything we had hoped and prayed for.

Within a day or two of his birth I began to suffer a sinking feeling.  I felt a distance from those around me, kind of an out of touch feeling.  I remember feeling like I was in a bubble, unable to clearly relate to others.  I couldn’t understand this feeling.  I was so happy to now have our baby to take care of and to begin the journey of motherhood.  Yet, I was feeling exhausted and was unable to care for this precious new life we had.  My husband was worried with fear.  Our parents were worried sick.  I was taken to a number of doctors in all kinds of specialties.  It was a long year and a half of postpartum depression, a time that I am thankful for as I gained a perspective that only someone enduring this illness could have, and am thankful I survived. 

The Challenge . . . 

This was a life event too difficult to conceal from others and thankfully so.  We needed the support of our family and friends to see us through this time.  My husband needed emotional and physical support to help care for our little Joseph, as I was unable to do so.  Our resources were stretched to the max.  We had friends bringing groceries and meals. We had friends helping with babysitting.  We had anonymous donations of financial gifts that helped us with the mounting financial needs.  We had a community who loved on us, prayed for us, supported us in prayer and many tangible ways, and, most of all, we knew we were not alone in carrying this burden.

My mom used to say there are two kinds of people.  There is the one you can stand with at the bus stop and by the time your bus comes you know their whole life story.  Then, there is the one you can stand with at the bus stop and you can exchange pleasantries with, but as you board the bus you realize you know nothing more about.  She was the second lady who held things more closely.  I certainly don’t find it necessary to tell everyone my life story but I have found that when I am open with my friends, it is also an encouragement for them to be open with me in return.  It allows us to support one another and it adds greatly to the depth and richness of our friendship.  Some of the crises we face are too personal, too hard to share or too confidential.  That’s okay.  People who know you, will sense the need to hold you in prayer.  In life we all experience disappointment, illness, and loss.  It might not be extreme or severe, but going through stuff with support, I have found is very comforting.   

Closed Door. . . 

We live in a day and age of the “edited life” as seen on social media.  We can edit the picture to be richer in color or to go from color to black and white.  We can crop out things we want to conceal.  We can post only the wonderful adventures and great highs in our lives.  Some people are more risky and show themselves before make-up and they tell the stories of the days where nothing goes right.  Sometimes they share their struggles with substance abuse or mental health issues, and those people are bravely putting it out there.  During my long battle with postpartum depression produced by a chemical hormonal imbalance, I remember being at the doctor.  I remember saying how frustrated I was that my friend, Jane Doe, was able to do it all.  She was the consummate homemaker, engaging friend, perfect mother and wife.  He said to me, “All you see is what happens when you are with her.  You don’t see what happens when she goes back home and closes the door.”  Those two sentences spoke VOLUMES to me.  I had never given that any thought.  Unfortunately, some years later she went through a divorce.  I did not see that coming at all.  That’s my point.  We don’t know what goes on when the door is closed.  We are comparing ourselves to only what we see either in person or on social media.

Share Your Story . . . 

You can make a choice.  You can choose to be the one at the bus stop who tells your life story or the one who exchanges only pleasantries, OR you can be the one who shares life with others and as you feel led, begin to tell your story.  You would be surprised to find there are so many others who have similar stories and feel less alone when they hear yours.  I think you will know the right time to open up and I believe the positive impact you will have will far exceed the need you may have always felt to protect your privacy.

NOTE:

If you are suffering from depression, please seek help from a parent, friend, counselor or medical doctor.  

YOUR TRIBE

Anne Miller is TableThink’s columnist for Your Tribe.  Anne’s writing takes us home, reminding us  of what really matters.  She invites you to the TableThink tribe . . . and to know it’s . . . Your Tribe.

Anne invites us: “I hope you will feel inspired to connect, reconnect, or get to know someone in your community, realizing it is not about entertaining – holding the attention of – it is about “being” together, sharing life and relationship.”

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