Coming from a girl who grew up on the outskirts of a farm town boasting a population of 180 people, this may not surprise you. I love community. However, finding community is sometimes a challenge. Especially when you’re not in Kansas anymore, so to speak.
I’ve lived in Dubuque, Iowa for 10 years now and it’s finally become home for me. I thought it never would be, but God has been growing contentment in me as I’ve committed to cultivating joy where he’s placed me.
As I’ve let my roots grow down into Iowa soil, I’ve started to discover the gems of my community. Coffee shops I loved, our incredible library, shops that offer delightful gatherings like book signings or knitting clubs.
Charlotte’s Coffee House I love for its beautiful redesign of an old building. I feel cozy and comfortable just as I step in. They have a lovely deck and everything about the shop is welcoming. Inspire Cafe brings me inspiration (so aptly named!) and a real sense of community. Those are values they live by and it shows in what they do and how they run their business. Jitterz, right on Main Street, is busy and bustling. A favorite spot for my husband and I to grab a chai latte on spontaneous afternoon dates.
River Lights Bookstore hosts book signings and readings, holiday parties and such, all with fun treats and drinks. We have a local Herb Society with free meetings full of amazing food creations. Our public library is always growing in their programming and services and I feel so blessed to have them as a resource nearby.
To grow in your community, you have to invest part of yourself. Maybe your money, maybe just time, but always your trust. You have to be brave and go by yourself sometimes. You have to sacrifice time you could be doing housework and go to those gatherings. You have to spend an extra few dollars on that locally made salad instead of a burger from the drive through. You have to ask people behind the counter questions beyond surface level.
I’ve been learning the value of repetition. Trying a coffee shop multiple times to see how it grows on you. Putting yourself out there again and again to connect with others. As you give others a chance, you start to see deeper and start to appreciate what they are doing with their lives.
So try a new coffee shop. Look into your local library programs. Get on those email lists from the local Leisure Services or other community organizations and check out different gatherings or activities. Don’t be afraid of what others will think. If we give our communities a chance, we’ll gain room to grow and find a home in what may otherwise be a lonely world. Appreciate your community and find your small (or large) way to be involved.
We are given this world as a gift. A place to belong in our earthly bodies. It’s not just a place to get by in until we reach heaven. God said it was good when he created it. So let’s find more ways to settle in and enjoy the gifts he gives in places like our local communities.