THE STORIES  Angela Zatopek

Angela Zatopek

Fuel Your Life With the Right Friends

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘community’? What visuals pop into your mind? Some may think of community as a location or specific place, but I want to address the kind of community defined by a group of people having similar interests. Another way to word this is your friend group, crew, squad-whatever you want to call it.

I’ll just be honest and upfront, regular community is something I have lacked for years throughout my 20’s. I think there are a few reasons for that. The primary reason being my profession: working in media, constantly flying to shoots and locations across the world.

A second, I would contribute to my love of travel and exploring. When I get free time, I want to plan a trip and explore somewhere cool! I don’t think it’s that unique anymore to say “traveling is my hobby”. It seems so many millennials love to travel and being a global citizen is almost the new way of our world now. It is almost in our DNA and encouraged by platforms like Instagram, showcasing the next hotspot or events to discover.

This could be perfectly illustrated by a birthday trip picture I took a few years back to Hawaii. Luckily I captured an amazing hike we took for the day. I had friends meet me from different places from around the country, but it wasn’t a “core” group I regularly saw.

This kind of community drastically differs from Gen X or Baby Boomers, where the kids and families on the block were just who you did life with.

My lifestyle has been one defined by my suitcase on wheels, serving as a portable closet. My open confession about lacking community doesn’t mean I do not have friends or am not social, in fact I think because of my travels I have friends all over the place. It is so fun to be traveling for work and see people you know, its fueled me for quite some time. But I would be lying if I didn’t always have this thought in the back of my mind about some sort of ‘normal friend group’, one I could always go back to and just do life with.

I recently had a major life transition where I really analyzed how I was living life and asking myself what is truly important? One thing my self talk immediately resorted to was the voice I have shushed down for years saying to myself, “you need regular and stronger community”.

I am a God-fearing kinda woman and of course want to abide by The Bible’s teachings in every area of my life. So when I read different things in The Bible, and also look at Jesus’ life, I can see how much community is highlighted. Jesus had a strong community, 12 disciples in fact! Rolling around dropping truth bombs and miracles together. Jesus wasn’t a solo rider, he had support, friendship and was *known* by these men.

How wonderful is it to be known? I think that’s why platforms like Facebook and Instagram are so popular, people want to be *known*. But are we really being known and connecting on a deep level through surface platforms or even a casual hang out here and there? No, I do not believe so.

So what does that look like, having true and authentic community? And why is it important?

I believe community done right or even wrong, has the power to drastically change your life. Yep I said that..right or wrong. It can be done wrong in my opinion. I am not talking about just surrounding yourself with just anyone for your community for the sake of friends. But being intentional on your inner circle..lets say 3-4 friends to start with?

They are your ‘life team’. When exploring this concept, questions to ask yourself can be as follows:

Who is your life team? Do you have one? If so, are they enriching your life? Are you enriching theirs? What do you center your time and conversation around? Are these things life-giving? Do you grow personally from these relationships and encourage one another? Can you be open and honest to hold each other accountable? Do they make your relationship with Jesus stronger? Do they help shape you into the best version of yourself? Can you have true transparency and vulnerability with them without harsh judgment?

I truly believe these are all imperative questions you must analyze when creating your life team.

Walking as a Christian today, life can easily get confusing. You truly are the company you keep, and you must ask yourself, “Is the life I am living consistent with the legacy I want to leave behind”?

It is great to be friends with everyone, but walking as a Christian, I believe your life team should consist of people possessing the same beliefs. Why? Because having the same foundational beliefs allows you to understand one another and your true life purpose.

So if you do *or don’t* have community, where do you start building this community?

The obvious answer is to start at church, which offers so many ways to connect with other believers. It’s easy to let busy schedules and work stress serve as an excuse to not make this a priority, but I challenge you to change that, as I am doing so myself.

Second, pray for God to bring the right people into your life. Pray for Godly friends and see what He does!

A third recommendation is when forming your inner circle, seek out someone older and wiser you really respect. Basically a “spiritual mentor”. This can be such a blessing for your life, to have someone outside of your parents that you can go to for life, spiritual or business advice. I cannot write this without mentioning a few of mine that have been such a blessing to me. They are Godly women named Jana and Dee, whom I absolutely adore and respect. I can truly go to them with anything and they always seem to speak wisdom into my life. It is very helpful and healthy to have someone like that outside of your family unit to go to.

With all of this said, I hope it can stir thoughts on your community and open conversation around healthy relationships with those who influence us in a positive way. We were created by God to desire relationships, so be intentional with those you invest your energy on. By building a solid “life team”, it can be incredibly fueling to have a support system with people who truly *know* and care for you. Our desire at Eleváre Jewelry is to help elevate people of faith not only through fashion, but words of encouragement since we are all in this journey together.

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