Community: Why Are We So Afraid of it?
Kevin EastKevin East is the Executive Director of Family Matters. He and his wife Stephanie have five unbelievable kids, two of which they most recently adopted. If Kevin isn't busy with work or family, you'll probably find him in the woods near his house with a power tool. He writes at his blog, "Following to Lead". Connect with him on Twitter at @kevinteast.
- 2012 May 15
Most people are incredibly lonely. Sure, we smile on the outside. Most likely, we keep ourselves busy so we aren't able to process the pain associated with not being associated - with anyone. We might be married, but living as if we weren't. Many people live life this way, hoping that someday they might eventually be noticed.
It's sad, but true. I'm not even talking about the socially awkward people. I'm talking about you and me; people who have friends, but keep them at a distance. We are social enough to make people laugh, and care for others when they are hurting. But deep down we know that only goes so far.
My wife showed me this blog late last week. Apparently, it is one of her favorites. Recently, they posted this video below. I think it is so accurate in using humor to communicate a point that is right on.
So why do we do this? Why do we hold people at an arm's distance? Why is it that we can have friends, and even influence people, yet have no clue what it's like to experience community?
Because it requires effort.
Very few of us ever spend time with people that are much different than us - unless we have to. If it is part of your job, your ministry, or just because of sheer geographic location, then we might succumb. Other than that, many of us tend to drift to where we are most comfortable. It takes making a conscious decision to step out and say hi. To go beyond your yard into someone else's.
Because it requires patience.
When I don't like someone's opinion, my tendency is to want to persuade them to mine. Of course, when they aren't quick to come to the "light," it is easy for my attitude to shift to something or someone else. What if we chose to look at each person as a person, and not as an opportunity? That would allow us to downshift, and to just be with them. No rush. Just be someone's friend.
Because people don't meet our expectations.
My wife quotes Psalm 62:5 often: "My soul, wait thou only upon God; For my expectation is from him."KJV What if we set our expectations fully on Him, and released others from trying to live up to ours? Instead of always being disappointed, we could choose to see people as a recipient of love from us, as opposed to source of love for us.
Because it requires vulnerability.
Someone has to take the first step. A phone call. An invitation. Someone has to lead, to show others how to get to where they want to go. I'm not always willing to do that. This is the case in my marriage as well. Sometimes I wish we were more intimate, but I'm not sure if I'm willing to try to get us to that sweet place. If we lead, and nobody follows, then what?
We were created to be in relationship. At times, we think that being alone is the place to be. That is good for a season, but eventually that well runs dry. We want to be known. We need others, and they need us.
Maybe we should ask the question what it would look like for us to just take a step in the direction toward community.
And then do it.
If you liked this post, check out Kevin's personal blog, Following to Lead, where he regularly writes on following, leading, fostering and family.