Had a really helpful conversation with a good long-term friend on Friday night. This friend (Sonja, for those of you who know her) has lived in community for a number of years now and it's been fun to watch how God has taken us along similar but different paths and how lovely it is to be able to share with each other from our quite similar, yet different, contexts.
Almost out of no-where, we got to talking about the fine line between sustainability and self-protection in community. When you are in community for the long haul you need to act in ways today that are going to allow this way of life to be sustainable for the next year, 5 or 20. How easy is it though for that to slip over into self-protection - I'm going to protect myself so that I can be here tomorrow ... or more honestly, I'm not going to be honest with you, open with you, present with you, I'm going to withdraw myself and desperately protect myself, time, energy, emotions etc.
As I've thought more about it, I think it's about open or closed hearted-ness. Sustainability really is about more than yourself, in a really healthy way, it's a way of life, it feels open, it's a strong choice for the community. Self-protection, on the other hand, is closed, it's reactive (I need this), it's about closing yourself off, it's a choice away from community.
The actions we take from these places might be exactly the same but they are such different motivations and lead us towards life-giving places or death-gripping places. The choice I make today to be open, vulnerable and honest makes it easier to be open tomorrow.