The Importance of Community

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By: Layne Gudenkauf
Today I was going to write a post on my January Favorites for my other blog, but when I went to start writing it, I was reminded of a conversation my mom and I had last night. I was talking about some of the weird quirks I have with my anxiety and how even though my family accepts them, they don’t truly understand them. For some reason, I am truly terrified of someone taking my pup when we are all away for too long. That being said, before we leave the house, I double-check all of the doors to make sure they are locked and I make 100 percent sure that the alarm is turned on as I walk out of the garage. I say a little prayer that she will be safe and I leave the house. My family thinks it’s silly and they accept it, but for a while, not having someone who understood that even though the fear was silly and probably irrational, it still felt very real, was pretty difficult.

While going to see someone and talk to them did help, he still only knew the scientific side of things. He could explain WHY I was having the fears, but he could not relate to HOW those fears felt. I wanted to be able to talk to someone who could relate to my fears. Then, a few weeks ago, I messaged my friend Jojo on Facebook. I asked if she still dealt with anxiety, and then things took off from there.

Jojo truly understood the irrational fear of having your dog stolen, and the importance of having little notes left around your house to help you deal with anxiety. She understood how much scripture can help with anxiety, and it was easy to talk things out with her because she genuinely felt how I did at times.

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There should be an emphasis on community, especially with things like anxiety or mental health. Because unlike a lot of things, it isn’t black and white. You truly do not understand the anxiety until you have felt it. If that makes sense? Having Jojo to talk to has been such a blessing to me and has already helped me in so many ways! I can’t imagine how helpful it would be to others to just have even one other person who really understands what they are going through. She has been able to give me Godly advice and bible verses to help me get through moments when I am struggling, as well as just good words of advice on how to move forward.

I then found this quote by C.S. Lewis that basically described the feeling of community I felt when found a confidant in Jojo:

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, what, you too? I thought I was the only one!”

How amazing would it be if we all had a person we could confide in and who would understand our struggles. Who could empathize with us and help us through times of difficulty.  Just one person makes the biggest difference!

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I do not want to discount the people in our lives who support us and accept our weird quirks and help us through the hard times! They are so strong and so brave and so understanding. Without knowing the feeling, they comfort you, they join you in your coping mechanisms, they allow you to take the time you need to calm down and they work to figure out what you need while struggling.

My mom for example.  When we are getting ready to leave the house to go to a family breakfast or dinner or the grocery store and we are all leaving, she will wait inside with me. I don’t always need to go upstairs to make sure I unplugged my curling iron or that I turned off the heater in my room, but when I do, she waits inside with me. I always apologize for it, but she really doesn’t mind. She is fine just being there, and I don’t know if she knows how much it truly means to me that she waits inside for me.

Second example: my dad. The first time I had a full on panic attack, with no real reason for the panic. He sat upstairs with me on the couch – while my mom Googled what was going on – and talked to me for a long time until I was finally calmed down. He asked me what I wanted to do in the future, which at the time I had no clue, but I was able to talk about that for a solid amount of time. He talked to me about how adorable my dog was, which always calms me down and he was just there.

So whether your community is filled with those struggling the same struggle you are, or people who care enough to try to understand and help you through hard times, find a community. Struggling on your own is no fun and is very unbeneficial. It creates a feeling of being alone that no one needs to feel.
This is exactly what JoJo and I want The Lionheart Society to be. We want it to be a place where people can feel welcome, understood and accepted by others. We hope it is a place that can not only offer resources, but support and the feeling of “Oh, I’m not alone.” So please, feel free to contact us, through email, social media, comments, or any other way, because the truth is, we all need a little help from our friends.
(If you feel lead to do so, go listen to, “I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends” 🙂 because it is what is currently playing in my head! )
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