If you were to ask me what I like to do, there are many things I could tell you. I like moseying through bookstores. I like Sunday afternoon drives. I like thoughtful conversation and debate. I really like baked goods with big bowls of vanilla ice cream.
But more than all of these things I like being with others. I love people. I love acquainting and enjoying folk. Beside God there is no greater subject in life, and our things serve the backdrop for vibrant relationship.
Losing Our Humanity
I wonder if many of us do not value one another as we should—or if not one another, then our time spent with each other. It’s a conversation worth discussing. Technology is seriously privatizing our lives in ways we could have never imagined in the past. Face-time has drastically decreased and impersonal relationships are the trend. Frankly, traditional family life and meaningful communication is eroding. We are spending more time looking into cell phones and computers than we do into one another’s eyes.
We’ve become people afraid of the silences—the long car rides, the between-bites at dinner, the beckoning, open doorways that invite us into a person’s day or life. Instead, we opt for noise. We get in our cars and instantly turn on the stereo. Television sets the mood for most homes. We lounge together in our living rooms each transfixed on a device perhaps texting one another.
We would be lying or terribly unmindful if we denied that innovation could be helping us unravel our inner well-being by nipping and tucking at the parts of our humanity that need not be altered.
Things mean more to us when we experience them with others. I’ve been fortunate to take my dream vacation, and I was lucky enough to have it at Christmas. Yet I was alone. It was a fantastic time, but I kept saying to myself, Oh, I wish _________ were here! Things can never replace people. Too often we get the message when loved ones die and we realize that we didn’t know them the way we should have known them, and that’s a true sadness. Humans are designed to be relational.
I encourage you to develop a habit of simple fellowship, something I can call a healthy habit of mine. It could be viewed as a combination of two spiritual disciplines—simplicity and fellowship—with the goal of being truly participative in the lives of the people around us in ordinary, even artless, ways.
Shut the TV off, take the family outdoors, and have wild fun—remember the joy of spraying each other with water and playing badminton in the backyard? There is no greater enjoyable relational tool than the board game: keep them around. And why not invite over the neighbors you’ve only ever waved to and grill out. Didn’t you love it when the whole neighborhood was like family?
Do these types of things. Draw on those modest activities that thrilled you when you were young, perhaps before the Information Age, and create ways to share time with others. Practice them regularly as a way of pushing back against society’s redefinition of social acceptance and importance. Perform them to reclaim normalcy in your life. Let your actions be replete with the affection, harmony, and mutual respect that make us human and keep the world beautiful.
And never ever forget that being fully human is deeply spiritual and God’s only design for us.