Our family spent the weekend separated along gender lines. My daughter and I went to the Rockford area to spend time with several other homeschooling Lutheran moms and daughters, while my husband stayed home with my two sons and supervised the older one's participation in a weekend-long chess tournament.
It's interesting that these two events coincided because as I reflect on the weekend it occurs to me that although the members of my family were engaged in different activities, we were in one respect doing the same thing: seeking community where it is to be found.
We hear a lot these days about the importance of diversity--of being exposed to those who are different from ourselves. And I would agree there is great value in that. Not only can we learn from those of different cultures and interests and backgrounds, but understanding those differences often leads to a deeper appreciation for our own identity.
Yet I think it is a natural human impulse to seek out others like us, who share our interests, passions, values and beliefs. When we are among people with whom we share common ground, we are encouraged by the sense of community that we find there. So when my husband or I takes my son to a chess tournament, and we have the opportunity to visit with other parents who are paying for chess lessons, shuttling their children to and from tournaments, and watching those children undergo the intense pressures of competition, we are built up in our vocation of chess parents. And when our son is able to spend time with his fellow chess players and friends, playing games against real flesh and blood people instead of online opponents, and talking the special language that only they fully understand, he is encouraged in his vocation of player and student.
And when my daughter and I are able to go away together, and spend time not merely with other moms and daughters but with moms and daughters who home school and who share the same confessional Lutheran faith that we profess, we are nourished in our vocations of mother, daughter, teacher, student, Lutheran, and Christian.
Sometimes it is good to be challenged--to step out of our comfort zones and experience new things. Doing so can be exciting, energizing, inspiring, and motivating.
But it is also good to feel oneself surrounded by people who understand you because they have "been there" and done the precise thing you are doing. There is no need to explain or defend or promote because they simply "get it." The freedom and relaxation that are to be had in such an environment are valuable indeed.
So to all of you who "get it"--in one way or another--thanks for being our extended family this weekend!