What Good Will Hunting Taught Me About Community

I make fun of blogs. I often think they only exist for those who are hungry for attention or suffer with issues of insecurity and need to be told they did something great. I’ve often said I didn’t understand why you wouldn’t just write in your journal instead, if what you are in need of is a cathartic moment. And maybe, just maybe, I have accused those people of being slightly self-aggrandizing with an overly inflated sense of self. Granted I do have exceptions to these rules; folks like my pastor, or authors, or Krista Tippett. You know, people who already have somewhat of an audience who is genuinely interested in what they have to say. But for a regular Ol Joe like me, I’ve often thought the idea silly.

So of course, it makes perfect sense that I embrace the hypocrite in me and start a blog of my own! Over the last few months this thought has increasingly been on my mind. In a way that has caused me to think hard about what I truly think and believe about the culture and community I live in. What I came to is just that! Second to Jesus, the thing I am most passionate about is community. I believe God gave us to each other as gifts. I believe it’s impossible to navigate this world without very real human beings to help us carry our burdens and allow us to carry theirs. I honestly believe we will never be whole without learning what it means to live accountable to others and getting wrapped up in the mess that is living life with them. And I believe we live in a very different and, at times, very bizarre society.

We connect differently than our parents did and we value things our parents would find insane. Social networking is a very real thing nowadays and it turns out that Facebook is not only for cat pictures and photos of our dinner. I have friends who are not able or choose not to be a part of an actual community of flesh and blood right now, but they take their online community quite seriously. They find hope and comfort in the posts and comments they are able to connect to online. I also strongly believe the Lord can use anything in this world for good and to spread His love. So it seemed to me it was time for me to stop being so negative about blogging and decide how I could use it instead to try and create, foster, and grow community?!

This is what that looks like for me- I love the movie Good Will Hunting. I think it is beautiful and brilliant and all of life is wrapped up in it somewhere. There’s a scene where Matt Damon’s character, Will, tries to pick up Mini Driver’s character, Skylar, at a bar. She suggests they go out for coffee and he suggests they meet up and eat a bunch of caramels. He says it’s just as arbitrary as drinking coffee. I have always loved that! I feel like that scene sums up so much of my life. I’m a terrible planner. In my line of work I would never be considered a visionary or a big picture type. I don’t have an agenda or a strategy. I just want to get together with you and eat a bunch of caramels and listen to you talk about your life.

Why bother with community? It’s messy and complicated and eventually if you do it long enough you will get hurt. In the movie Robin Williams plays Sean, Will’s therapist. Sean’s wife has passed away and he is telling Will about some of her idiosyncrasies. The wonderful things that made her his wife, things only he knew about her like how she used to fart in her sleep or when she was nervous. Once she farted so loud in the middle of the night she woke herself up. Will has met Skylar but is afraid to get too close to her because he doesn’t want to find out all the ways she isn’t perfect, isn’t who he thinks she is. Sean explains to him how it’s our idiosyncrasies that make us special, unique, us!

We can live our whole lives never getting close to anybody, never taking the risk, and never letting them hurt us. But then we will never know that they fart when they’re nervous. We will never be a part of all the good stuff. I want to know what makes you you, and I need you to see what makes me me. It is essential to my well-being to have those relationships. Some folks prefer to reserve that level of intimacy with a select few. Some folks are willing to be open about almost anything and everything (that’s me!). But whichever you are- do it with your whole heart and with abandon.

In the end, Jesus loves every single one of my idiosyncrasies, my quirks, my rough edges. I desperately want to love those who come across my path like that. I promise to be incredibly open and honest in this blog. I hope you find it safe to do the same. And we can practice community together. I don’t want to miss any of the good stuff- the farts, the hurts, the joys, the hiccups, the fear, the celebrations. Every little detail is the good stuff, the stuff worth getting out of bed in the morning for.