One of my dearest friends tried to drop off Christmas treats to us last night. We weren’t home. Thanks to Rob our exterior was bright with lighted Christmas balls, but the front porch light was off. Later that night I read the following text from my friend: “I think I am at your house, but it doesn’t seem like it… do you have a bunch of lighted balls out front?”
It’s a funny text… but also a sad commentary. We have been so busy building a home and business since we moved, that we have been somewhat isolated socially. I keep up with people via scattered calls and facebook, but I am disconnected without a real sense of community. We need to build a life – rich in relationships and meaning! My sweet friend has so seldom been to my house, that she isn’t sure if she’s in my driveway when she comes! What happened to having friends in our homes?
I used to have a house full all the time — birthdays, Young Life, families: just adults and with kids, after the game, before the prom, pot luck, Bible Studies, fund raisers, committee meetings, just to talk, getting a friend’s opinion about decorating, gardening or a new outfit… our house was vibrant. What happened to that way of life?
The children left home, people went back to work, I moved, remarried and returned. But I don’t think any of those things tells the whole story, because it seems that I’m in good company. These days I hear from friends of all ages comments like: “I never see anyone,” “we really do need to plan a get together,” “I’m so busy, but I don’t know what I do.” Every now and then there’s a birthday lunch, a ball game, or a charity event to see friends — but what happened to just having people over? For a celebration? Or for no reason other than fun and fellowship?
What happened to making the effort to know your neighbors and to friends dropping in for a visit — sharing flowers, vegetables or baked goods? I usually don’t even see people I know at church, and few linger to talk afterwards. What happened to simpler times where people had more time for each other — just to enjoy each others company and “do life” together?
Now it seems that WAY too often “conversations” and the sharing of lives happens through the viral youtubes and blogs of strangers, texting and facebook with friends — even emails, the junk mail of our day, go unread. Phone conversations are avoided, because they interrupt plans and tie up too much time and energy. The art of a hand-written letter or note is all but lost, and even shopping and pizza deliveries are scheduled online! We are eliminating a myriad of face to face interactions (opportunities to show love) — all in the name of what? Efficiency?
Check out this info graph to see what all that “efficiency” is getting us! No one will be surprised to hear we are a tired and stressed-out nation. What happened to the virtue of rest from our labor and Sabbath rest in Him? Even in church we are often busy, overwhelmed, tired and lonely.
And is all this cyber-connectedness making us feel more sense of community? One man’s own loneliness spawned research and an article containing the following quote: “Loneliness has doubled: 40 percent of adults in two recent surveys said they were lonely, up from 20 percent in the 1980s. All of our Internet interactions aren’t helping and may be making loneliness worse. A recent study of Facebook users found that the amount of time you spend on the social network is inversely related to how happy you feel throughout the day.”
I want to change my life. “BUSY” in my book is the latest addition to bad 4 letter words. I want to be available to people when they need me — family, friends and strangers — and reach out more to form relationships and share my life. I want to write frequent notes of thanks and encouragement. I want to meet my neighbors and rekindle old friendships– in person! I want to give more away: my belongings and myself. I love the ideas of paying it forward and small acts of kindness, and want to be intentional in my “stranger” interactions. Won’t you join me? More “busy” posts to come. I would love to hear your experiences and ideas!
Even my blog and art pulls me away from face to face interactions; I can be an artistic hermit… I’m going to schedule my writing and schedule our LIVING! Have more parties and visit with more real-live people! 😉 There’s a place for meeting in restaurants and talking on facebook or in texts. Hard work is Biblical… these things aren’t bad.
But being together in someone’s home is different… it’s intimate and vulnerable. I remember sitting around my maternal grandmother’s big dining table, multiple generations just talking without rushing off after the noon meal. Our small town didn’t have many restaurants, so she had guests for “dinner” almost every weekday after she retired. Granny grew vegetables and roses in the back yard and shared them generously. She volunteered reading at the elementary school library well into her 90s, and offered long term housing to many relatives and friends at various times in their lives. I think these activities help explain why she lived to be 107!
My mom is also a gifted hostess. She and my dad housed business associates and friends overnight on a regular basis, with tremendous grace and welcome. They had dinner parties, and were frequently invited out. They considered it a privilege and a priority to visit their friend’s in their homes all over the country! She and her neighbors share “treats” year round — the first bloom in season, a welcome gift left by the door when someone’s been away, custard when someone’s sick, tomatoes from the garden, or something they picked up for a friends just because. My mom and dad created holiday traditions that no one wants to miss! I want to claim back some of my mother and grandmother’s “old-fashioned” hospitality to family, friends and strangers. I put it out there.. hold me accountable!