Relating

Estimated reading time: 4 minute(s)

You might think I write because I have answers. Or maybe that I think I have answers. Sometimes I guess I do have a certain bit of information I learned that I’d like to share, or a thought on something that might be worth your consideration, it’s true. But often I will write more because of questions I have, rather than answers.

Tonight is one such night.

I have been thinking about the way we relate to each other as a culture for quite some time now. (Search for “Relationship” in the search box to the right and you’ll see what I mean.) It has been important to me for a number of reasons. How we Christians relate to each other as the church, and also how our family relates to and with the people around us. Life is relationship, so it makes sense to me that this would be a common thought thread through many of my days.

Lately I’ve just been wishing there was another family or two with whom we could “do life”. People that we’d spend several days a week with, for varying lengths of time, sharing the important and unimportant things of life.

There are some folks we see pretty often, and whom I feel know us well and vice versa. These are all valued friendships. I’ve just been wondering why there isn’t more? (And by “more” I simply mean more time; more shared life; more relating.)

And I completely understand that part of it is the way we have chosen to do life.

We are not actually removed from life with other people (there are people all around, and we are glad to be with other people) but we are “removed” from the standard relational structures of our society. We home school our kids, so we are not part of the public school community. (That of course is a huge chunk of life for many people with families similar to ours.) We are not part of a “church with a name”, so though we have many great relationships with Christians whom we share our life with God with… well, we aren’t “part” of that “community”.

It seems to me that we Americans can only relate when we are plugged into a larger social structure. We don’t know how to stop over for tea anymore. We don’t know how to hang out on someone’s porch. (Not in the winter time, of course…) We rely on our busy schedules to keep us near to and connected with the people we know. (And that is how we know anyone at all: by being part of the same activities.) When you are not involved in the “activities” of the busy American life, it’s easy to feel “forgotten”.

Now, the weirdest part—and where I have the most questions—is that I know some busy people who have definitely not forgotten about us, and yet we rarely see them. For one reason or another, there’s just not enough time in the week (or month!) to find ourselves in the same physical space to enjoy some time together. But again, if we were doing the same things, we’d either (1) feel like we had “seen” them, and so met the invisible relational quota, or, (2) be reminded/encouraged to make sure to plan other visiting times, or even just drop by?

I’m really not complaining. Even just today a friend dropped in for a brief visit that was much appreciated. And as I said, God has placed some great people around us and we love being part of their lives and having them in ours.

I’m just so baffled by the way we do this. Trying to work out these thoughts!

Now, I think there are regions of our country, in our culture, who live this out differently. I think maybe the South is a bit more relational by default. We experienced this a little when we spent a week of vacation down south this past fall. Random strangers will begin conversations with you at any place or time, and not always just small talk. That is seems to me a bit “healthier” relationally, but I admit, it could just be a personal preference/personality thing. (But then, how is it nearly universally true of one of our American cultures?)

The point is, we are definitely made for relationship. God wired us that way. We’re not meant to be alone. But are we only meant to be together in order to put on, partake in, or attend some function? Aren’t we on some level just supposed to enjoy the company of each other?

I really love it when people just drop by!

(Is it just a structured vs. unstructured lifestyle question I’m really asking?? No. I really think it’s deeper.)

We are missing something. With all our busyness, we are missing each other. We see each other. And in that way we feel a part of a community, but too often keeping our schedules overpowers the opportunities to give to and draw from the people God has surrounded us with.

And, I will also admit to perhaps over-thinking this. I am definitely wont to do that. But something in my gut says there’s more here. There’s more for us. We have a form of relating but deny it’s power. (To twist a Scripture verse…) 🙂

I’ll keep on this and see what Jesus shows me over the next few days, weeks. Maybe you have something to add? Please do below.

Or, just drop by for tea.

5 thoughts on “Relating”

  1. Absolutely! We were just talking about this with my dad who lives in Spain.. They do what he calls “street life”
    People run into each other and stop… Actually STOP to BE with each other… They live together, they live to be with people, everything appears to be secondary… Things are usually done in groups… The American culture is pervasively individualistic.. Every man for himself, strike out on your own, do your own thing kind of a culture. Independence is encouraged, idolized even. It is hard to be wired different, for sure. One feels as though we are swimming upstream.. At least I do. And the older I get, the more it bothers me 🙁
    I find it to be a lonely kind of life, life cAn be SO much richer and fuller than this!!
    Just my humble foreigner opinion 🙂

    1. Laura, that’s interesting. I have some friends who live in Spain now (who used to live in Guayaquil, Ecuador) who say that they were surprised at how much less “social” people seemed to be there. I’m sure it’s very different than the US, though.

      How has it been where you are now? It’s at least near the South, if it isn’t actually the South. Is life a tad less individualistic there?

  2. I agree that we “are wired” for sociality. The richness of life comes in weaving our own life with another on so many different levels. I have been very grateful that in leaving a place that was filled with people we love, we have come to a place filled with people we love. And we have, as yet, only met a handful of them. I envision this small town full of future relationships.

    I have also been experiencing the “southern way” of falling into spontaneous and random conversations with people. There is a discernible, slow openness here that I have not felt elsewhere. And we are barely in the South, so I wonder if it intensifies the further down you go.

    I think also, you are unique in your particular social wiring, Every time I see you I sense that you are ever gathering people into your sphere. Your invitation is perpetual and genuine. I suspect you are fostering more meaningful relationships than the average Jo . . . and maybe even the average Jane.

    1. Thanks, Jessica. I’m not sure if I agree with the “unique” label (though I do sometimes sense that) … and I mostly disagree because I think whenever we are made to see what is really important (usually by death or some other tragedy) … it’s always our relationships. It’s really all that matters. (I don’t think I’m the only one who is wired that way?)

      Nice to hear that you are connecting with people in your new home. I loved the “open door policy” post from your blog. It’s what I hope we live here. 🙂

      As for the South, I think you’re probably right that there are varying degrees of that slow openness. Probably in regional pockets, even more than just a direct correlation to the latitude? Just a guess.

      Thanks for your comments. I enjoy your writing—the way you say things, the words you choose. I’d imagine you got that gift of words from your Dad, no?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge