I get to be part of this small gang of about six to seven families. It's a close-knit group, with the families becoming a part of each others' lives in a very detailed manner.
And therefore, yes, too many people naturally means too many ideas; it's funny how when we travel, we end up having no food, because by the time everyone comes to a consensus even about having a tea break, it's almost time for dinner. I remember on our last trip to Jaipur, we couldn't stop for lunch and by the time we stopped for tea, it was dinner time and again we skipped our evening meal. Laughingly, we termed it as our budget trip -- travelling on an empty stomach. And it's still something we laugh about because we are all crazy and have accepted each other just the way we are, and that's the benefit of having a community that you strive with.
In the beginning, when I was newly married, I cared less for a community. My husband and I were like two free birds, going wherever, doing whatever whenever we wanted. And yes, it was all fun -- we enjoyed just being the two of us, with no strings attached!
But the true sense of community started sinking in to me when I became pregnant. A few women showered their love on me through simple acts: making a meal for me, or pampering me with baby gifts (at a time when its called nesting). As a woman, I felt the need of having girlfriends who had been through this situation before, people I could talk to. It's a time when you know you want a friend by your side who knows what you going through physiologically and emotionally. And none better than the girlfriends in your life. I remember squeezing their palms and yelling at my girlfriends from the labour room (you can blame the hormones and oh, the excruciating pain), and yet the gentle comforting touch of one of them saying, "It's okay, you can do this" or, "Just a little more", was something that worked wonders.
Before I gave birth, my pregnancy cravings were taken care of every week and my kitchen store was loaded with exciting stuff by these friends. Soon after delivery, one friend dropped in with weeks-worth of food. When I was hit with jaundice, my friend's mom came in to cook and clean my house. After a while, I could even go to parties and events, safely leaving my baby with one of my girlfriends for an evening.
My life has been blessed by these women whom God has placed in my life. As my husband and I live in a nuclear home, God gave us the joy of living as part of this extended community. We may not be a family by blood, but we are a wider family, held together by the deeper bonds of the blood of Christ. Through these wonderful women, I have experienced and witnessed the love of Christ in the little details of life.
They have helped me begin understanding the value of having a community. The Bible says, "We are made in the image of God". Therefore, each of us is like Him, not necessarily meaning that God has two eyes and a nose and all those limited physical attributes, but something that goes beyond this. From eternity to eternity, God himself dwells in a community -- the Trinity -- and we, being in His image, reflect that need and desire for a community as well.
Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him." Genesis 2:18
Adam looked around and saw there were trees and animals of all kinds, but there was no one whom he could associate with. And so God gave him a community as well. Right from Eden, it has been true: life cannot be lived in isolation. We aren't made to be Robinson Crusoes, living in one-man self-sustaining nuclear units.
This is one of the beautiful things about India, just the culture of family, large gatherings, people- and amidst all of this; there is a element of unity and acceptance that comes along by having a community that you grow along with.
As women we go through numerous emotions a day, we are filled with thoughts that affect us and our actions - having a bunch of spiritually edifying women sure helps you in your daily walk with God and also in your practical day to day living.
"Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts." Colossians 3:16