Reflections in the [Bridge]Water – The Office

As the second community my series of reflections, the office has served as one of the biggest learning curves (and no, not the one with Michael Scott).

I received an offer for my first full time job outside of college internships early January of 2014, just a month after graduating. My mind has a hard time developing locational expectations for a new place, so I had no preconceptions of what work life would look like in comparison to university life.

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The first lunch in college on the first day of classes I ate at a table by myself (don’t worry, I think that was the last time that happened). The first lunch at work I ate with about a dozen +50 year-old men. Talk about some entertaining (and educational) conversation.

From here, I met dozens of my other 400 or so coworkers of various ages, walks of life, and interests.

It’s easy to describe what I learned technically and professionally. I think most of the questions you ask yourself in a first job follow a fairly universal trend. What’s my role? How do I interact with my coworkers? How do I learn as much as I can from the fire hose of information?

It’s a bit harder to express how I grew. “What’s my purpose?” loomed overhead everyday for me.

The very word “community” means to have a common characteristic or goal. In essence, work life is community life. This mindset seemed to kick in a lot quicker in college, but I realized quickly that it doesn’t look the same in a 9-to-5 setting.

Community living requires investment. Paul served as a great example of what intentional work life looked like in Acts:

“Paul went to visit Aquila and Priscilla. They were tentmakers, the same as Paul, so he stayed with them and worked with them… During the night, Paul had a vision. The Lord said to him, ‘Don’t be afraid, and don’t stop talking to people. I am with you, and no one will be able to hurt you. Many of my people are in this city.’ Paul stayed there for a year and a half teaching God’s message to the people.” 

Paul’s profession was a tentmaker (because that’s what people lived in then). He made money to put food in his belly and clothes on his back. That’s all. You can see it right there. One sentence attributes to his career, not an entire resume.

Paul’s mission was spreading the Good News of Jesus. What better way to get to know people and understand their needs than to work right alongside them! He didn’t concern himself about how good of tentmaker he could make himself. People were his concern.

On days where I had a difficult time going to work, this mission humbly reminded me that my job is not as important to Jesus as the people that he loves in the next cube down the hall. Should my sour attitude or personal work agenda affect the way I could love people that day, then I have vainly accomplished nothing.

With a heart full of joy, I leave this office and these amazing people only to continue loving new people with the love God has given me!

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Reflections in the [Bridge]Water – The Dragonfly

Looking back at posts such as this one or this one, I realized the idea of community sits on my mind quite frequently. As I prepare for a move from Virginia to South Carolina this week, reflections on this past year or so in this little town of Bridgewater have pretty much planted themselves in the back of my mind.

With that, I want to share four distinct communities (in no particular order) I’ve had the privilege of living in and growing with the people in them.

The Dragonfly

For those of you fortunate (or unfortunate) to have watched “Gilmore Girls”, you’ll recognize “The Dragonfly” as Lorilei’s Inn. Somehow my roommate Sarah found a correlation between the show and our fantastic little home and thus it got the name.

Sarah interviewed me as her first Craig’s List roommate and bravely took me on as a fellow Dragonfly-dweller. Immediately she explained her vision for living in community. The kitchen is open to anyone (including food, unless marked otherwise), chores would be split evenly, and roommate dinners were a must. Above all, The Dragonfly would serve as a place of rest from work and ministry throughout the day.

I fell in love.

This place was my dream. But like all dreams, you got to wake up and smell the pansies sometime, and those pansies sometimes end up turning into compost.

From there, unrealistic expectations built up quickly. Very soon, I let bitterness creep in about things like dirty dishes being left alone. Having no dishwasher makes it pretty difficult to keep a clean sink, but my pseudo-clean freak mind expected otherwise. In short, when expectations get let down, the mental blame game commences.

I learned very quickly that living in community meant something I didn’t know: communication and potential surrender of expectations. To expect my roommate who served people all day long at work to keep a spotless house was unrealistic. The home is a place of responsibility, but also a place of rest….a place where your rump rests (shameless Pumba quote).

Releasing expectations for something better means things like 30-person Thanksgiving potlucks in a 3-person apartment happen because you don’t mind cleaning up for the next week. It means receiving new roommates from out of no where when you least expect it (and finding that you have a new wonderful friend). It means opportunities to pray over each other as roommates happens more frequently because we see each other’s needs more clearly. It means we begin to look at the things that are important to Jesus and his vision for intentional community.

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How do you view your home? What expectations are holding you back from community investment?