I’ve got people. When I have a question about church money, I ask Sally. When I want someone to start a visitation ministry, I mention it to Lois. When there’s ice building up on the sidewalk, I mention it to Larry. When I want someone to update an event on the calendar, or redraft a policy, I ask Cindi. When I need to understand a budget question, Rick is on it. When we need part of the building to look better and be more welcoming, Barb is all over it. And when it comes to food for a funeral or anything else, it’s another Barb. If we need to put music together for Easter or Christmas, we can depend on Jan (and Drew, Ken, Ken, Phil, and Torrey). This isn’t a catalog of all the people I depend on—just a hint about how deeply we depend on one another all the time. Being me, I also have people to call on when I want to play some music!
It seems especially important to point out our interdependence as our western world continues to pursue its ideal of individualism to absurd levels. Read this from psychologist Martin Seligman: “In the past quarter-century, events occurred that so weakened our commitment to larger entities as to leave us almost naked before the ordinary assaults of life … Where can one now turn for identity, for purpose, and for hope? When we need spiritual furniture, we look around and see that all the comfortable leather sofas and stuffed chairs have been removed and all that’s left to sit on is a small, frail folding chair: the self.”
Seligman is clear that if we want to recover our optimism, our positive outlook on the world and our future, we need to be fully engaged in a network of people. Depression and isolation are two beasts feeding on one another. I can see the truth in this from my own life. I have usually been pretty good at finding a few friends to connect with—people who will notice when I look down-in-the-mouth, who will listen to what’s going on, and invite me over to their house on a whim. At those times when I haven’t had those supports at the ready, I’ve slipped pretty close to depression a few times. In Sligman’s words, they are the “comfortable leather sofas and stuffed chairs” that make up the furniture of my internal home.
Where’s God in all this? Everywhere! God is the glue holding so many of these relationships together. God is the maker who made us to live in community. God is the one who rejoices when we live together in harmony, creating villages of relationships. And God is the first and final friend, from the beginning to the end of our lives. The relationship modeling faithfulness for every other relationship is the holy relationship we have with God. Now let’s go and make it real!