AKA Learning and loving in community
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I have this friend whom for the sake of this blog I’ll call Rob Pallikan.  I met him at my previous church and my relationship with him is one of the things I’ll always appreciate about that particular church experience.  Rob’s an amazing guy with a big heart for people and a bigger heart for God.  He works at Outreach Inc, he’s amazing with kids, and is completely unashamed of his collection of original Star Wars figures (still in their original boxes)  retains a child-like joy and wonder as he trips through life.
Currently, we each go to two different churches, but we both share a belief that relationships have to be intentional, and people pursued.  It’s so easy for people to breeze in and out of our lives.  It’s easy in this day , age, and culture, with people being so busy, to let a lot of time pass between phone calls, getting together, and basically putting in the work to maintain relationships.
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Every month or so, Rob loves to organize what he has dubbed “test fests”.  We get together and watch “manly” movies and drink manly drinks and eat manly food and do manly things … which somehow usually end with us sitting in a circle discussing our feelings.  Our jobs (or lack thereof), our marriages, how we can be better husbands, fathers, friends, everything is on the table to talk about, and we end up praying for one another as we stare into the firepit.  (I wonder if I’ve just violated the first rule of Test Fest by talking about Test Fest*).
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Over the weekend Rob just had his third annual Testrogenfest, when we have the occasion to bring our delightful spouses along with us to share in our antics (let’s be straight, none of our wives are or can be shocked:  they know who they married and know what we’re like when we get together.  And though our wives retain their image of patient saints, we all know they are just as down for nonsense as the rest of us).  Many of us have served together, the bulk of us united through Outreach Inc.  We laugh, share stories, eat, are real, and connect with one another.
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All of which simply had me thinking about how much we learn about each other through our experience of community.  We have the opportunity not only to see what God’s teaching us, but also how to love and be loved.  There’s something about having a community of people** who know and love and accept you, who are willing to walk through the hard times and dig into the difficult places of our lives.  And since I write, I just wanted to thank Rob for the example of friendship and community that he is an inspires.  We should all be so blessed to have Rob Pallikans in our lives.
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*Photo by the great Miguel Mesa
**No slight to any of my other communities, Rob’s Test-Fests were on my mind.