From Strangers to Community Members
Living in community has absolutely been the most fulfilling and educating experience for me this year. As someone who is typically introverted, even antisocial, the ease of relationships with my fellow FrancisCorps members has been a great insight in my personal life. Living with others while developing close friendships with them has often been difficult in my previous relationships, so I was fearful coming into FrancisCorps about the community living dynamic and how I would feel with so much interaction. I was committed, however, to seizing the opportunity to create stronger friendships through the shared interests and desires that had brought us into this community, and I was so happy to find that this commitment to strong relationships was one of the desires shared by my fellow members.
While we were strangers, meeting in the FrancisCorps house was quite different from the meeting of strangers in a college dorm or other living situation: we were entering our relationship not out of convenience but out of responsibility and shared desire for service, and we spent extensive time in our FrancisCorps orientation learning about each other and building a foundation for a spiritually and emotionally close experience. Being asked to be so vulnerable in the first days of knowing each other was challenging, but it provided a layer of trust that was totally new to me so early in forming relationships. I was further surprised and happy at how easily we developed on that dynamic and built a close environment in the house. So many months later, I am still surprised at how easy our community living has been. Even after quarantines, broken appliances, small conflicts, and the occasional day when I just need to be alone for peace and quiet, we are still successfully maintaining our friendships and trust and can rely on a listening ear at the end of a long day. The openness and communication of our FrancisCorps community has taught me how valuable trust, honesty, and dedication at the outset are to friendships and to my ability to grow close to others. While I will always be an introverted person who needs solitude sometimes, FrancisCorps has taught me what is possible in living in spiritual community and close friendship and has helped me to develop the skills that I will carry with me into future communities and relationships.
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