To follow on from my previous post where we want to love well, live well and invest more I want to delve deeper into doing life together. I know I’m going to sound old fashioned but with social media and awesome eating places the dynamics of friendships and sharing life has altered drastically.
People feel like putting a status update on their news is sharing with their dearest the big life moments. Or reading about someones holiday gives them a glimpse into just what their friends world holds. Now I’m a big fan of eating out, trying a variety of food and getting out of clean up duties when you’ve had a full on week. But there is something lost in meeting in cafes and restaurants for a catch up rather than a home. A dynamic shifts in the conversation because of the atmosphere. The barriers that could be pulled down and a life truly shared as you walk side by side in the way God intended alters with screens and bustling places.
Taking the kids out to be entertained while you sit and enjoy a hot beverage with chatter certainly helps mix up the day and can be a nice and even needed change of pace. But if that is what it is always then something sweet and simple can be lost. The beauty of generations mixing and mingling, seeing and gaining is diminished.
While I moaned like anything when I was a missionary kid being taken from house after house for meal after meal with people after people I do realise the gains that came. There was an evening in Melbourne with an older couple and the dynamic sharing of faith and life left a mark. The games played around the table at the Innes home in Matamata while the parents shared of their hearts for God penetrated deeply into an absorbing mind. The sleep overs at the Diproses and seeing how the whole family mucked in, even add ons, with chores and the farm revealed loads lightened. Those countless Christmases in Melbourne, Indonesia, Matamata and Auckland where my parents welcomed ‘stragglers’ for the family meal, adaptability and inclusiveness was seen in action.
I miss the way that people use to do life together! I use to love inviting individuals, couples, families, entire teams of work mates or cell groups over for a meal and didn’t mind at all being the one to host the whole thing. There was something special about it being in a home rather than a venue with bustle and timeframes. Even the clean up was fun as people mucked in. There has been a shift though, when most prefer to meet outside homes for convenience and possibly safety in boundaries. Thankfully I still get to fulfil my hosting love by inviting our team of leaders at the in depth bible study I’m a sub teaching leader at. If my house could fit it I would invite the masses over, making it the 200 plus women in the class. That is where you get to see and know people more.
Now I admit I love boundaries, and see the need for them. And I’m certainly a work in progress, on the newbie side, when it comes to letting people actually help me and let go of my independence. But thankfully God has brought people into my life to gently refine me. I have a dear friend who I recently helped move and though she was reluctant she accepted my help to clean the parts you wish you didn’t even see yourself when all is out and the place is bare. From my side of it I didn’t give it a second thought. I didn’t mind at all. In fact I loved the fact she meant enough to me to really do life with. BUT I recall a time she came to visit months back and she found me having just about finished off my housework but not quite. She grabbed my warm sheets from the dryer I’d dumped on the floor in between the couch and bench and started folding. Doing life is a two way street!
Often I find it easier to give than to receive, to help than to ask for help. There have been moments there has been a two way street though and I’m grateful for that. I’ve a friend I did PJ mornings with when very ill on fertility medication. Family who’ve come to bring groceries when too sick. Friend’s who’ve passed me tissues when I cried so hard in tough times the snot merged with the tears. A mother in law who came to sit with my man at both surgeries and helped me when I couldn’t get out of bed. My friend and teaching leader at the in-depth bible study who brings us boxes of meals, treats, vicks, lemons and honey when I’ve been down with it. Now that is doing life with people.
Family and friends who stay at ours, and we stay at theirs, that’s the best kind of snap shot and connection! Sometimes it feels exposing and you want to protect yourself from the knocks expected as people do disappoint one another. But there is beauty and much to gain from doing life with one another, in a very real sense that matters and has impact both ways.
I’m going to be more intentional about it. I have a group of four ladies I lunch with once a month to share and be. But I’m thinking it’s time to change from a cafe to a home, from time to time. And that is just for starters. You?