To be a part of a community is to be a part of a group of people, living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.
To feel like you are part of a community is to have a sense of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes interests and goals. Therein lies the rub.
Most of you know that I am part of a community known as OCR or Obstacle Course Racing. This is an amazing sport wherein a competitor, traveling on foot, must overcome various challenges in the forms of obstacles. Mud and trail runs are combined and these races are designed to result in mental and physical collapse. I had been training for one such event since June of this year. SAVAGE! Fall Savage this year would have marked my one year anniversary in the OCR community and I was looking to really break through some of my mental and physical ceilings. However, in August I ran into some health challenges that meant there would be no more training in preparation. Just to be told that I had to stop training for my race was discouraging enough, but add aches and pains, nausea, headaches, medical testing and the nervousness of potential pending results and it all equals…well, NOT how I expected fall Savage to go. Still wanting to push myself to be the best I can be, my intention was to still participate and just do my best. Two weeks out from the Savage deadline my husband was informed he would need to be out of town for business, and my daughters and their guys would also not be able to attend. Now, let’s talk about community.
I am 47, overweight, and as I have mentioned before, not in perfect health. When I had to cease training for Savage, I was discouraged, but not dissuaded. I was still going to compete. You see, I am part of another community, the Close Clan. This community grew up with the family motto “Closes don’t quit”, and the motto ” whatever one does, we ALL do”. Why is this important? Because within this small group of people, I can rest confident in knowing that we will all finish together, or die trying. There will be no judgement if an obstacle can’t be completed. Everyone will be pulling for everyone else in our clan and anyone they can help along the way. This is the foundation of who these people are, so healthy or not, I had no worries. Then a huge portion of my support system just couldn’t make the race. That is when I had to alter my decision.
You see, I am part of the OCR community. I love that I am part of a group of people that gets off of the couch and gets out and gets muddy. A group of people that push to become better versions of themselves. But, for the most part, that is what we share. It would not be fair of me to set a goal for myself that would require my community, the larger OCR community, to fulfill. When we begin placing unfair expectations on the other members in a community, (whether that community is OCR, or family) we begin to lose sight of what this sport, and hence community, is all about.
I will say it again. We cannot set personal goals that require a community to accomplish unless that community has agreed to the goal beforehand. To do so is to diminish the personal goals of the others in our community. There are many times when my daughter or son will run the race first and then complete the course again to ensure that I have the support available when needed; we discuss this beforehand, so that we can ensure that everyone makes their goals. If your goal is that big then it behooves you to ensure the support system. When we put our goals ahead of the others in a community we will begin to feel entitled to their support and, although we might maintain being part of the group, we will ultimately lose the feeling of fellowship and camaraderie that is suppose to arise from being part of just such a group.
#1. Whether the community is OCR, church, the workplace, or family, when we place our wants (goals) above everyone else’s we will foster a sense of entitlement in our own hearts. We will begin to feel like others have let us down. We will begin to judge others based on what we feel they should do. However, when we set a personal goal, and recognize that it is just that…personal, when we realize that no one is responsible for our own individual growth but us, we foster an appreciation for the helping hand or the encouraging word. We continue to recognize those things as the gifts they are….It is nobody’s responsibility to get my butt over that wall, but mine!
That being said, and to keep us all humble, allow me to share with you the single most important ingredient to any community. AUTHENTICITY. Your community will know who you are by what you do, not by what you say. It is easy to say that you are all about the team…but what do your actions show? Once again, it doesn’t matter which community we are discussing. A parent can say they love their kids, but if they aren’t there, leave them behind, fail to show up, or quit when it gets tough…. then their actions say much more.
To be a part of any community is an honor and a responsibility. Just like our personal goals, only the individual can decide for themselves how much they are willing to give back to those with whom they claim fellowship and brotherhood. However, that being said, history has shown that those who give little and risk little of themselves likewise receive very little.
#2. Sometimes you will accomplish more as a member of the community and even a human being by “dying” on the field with a teammate and letting your goal die then you will by leaving your fellow traveler to pursue your goals. You might accomplish your goal but at what price?
If we all live not looking to others to meet our needs, but always looking to help meet the needs of others, how much better would every community be?
These are just some thoughts, as always I ask that you look inside yourself, take what can help leave the rest.
I’ll see you at the next OCR!