I’m driving across the plains of Washington state with my family and thinking about manifest Destiny- the belief that God gave us the mission to spread out into new lands.
And I’ve also been thinking about how tough it is to be all jammed together in community. As well as how hard sticking with one other person for a lifetime of committed marriage looks to be.
Both would get in the way of doing exactly what I think I want to do and being exactly the way I think I want to be.
But then I think about that over-tanned, lonely-looking lady who sat down next to us at a casino and kept cursing the “chink” dealer under her breath and blaming “those damn Asians” for her losing cards (I think she thought the Indian dealer was Asian). I wonder if she had thought and said and done exactly what she had wanted for years and years and had left her friends whenever they got close enough to try and help her.
I also think about our friend who is sleeping with a guy who’s a big pot head, among other things. And how instead of listening to our advice to be careful she has stopped accepting our invitations to come hang out with us, her friends who really, really care about her.
And I can think of a lot of folks, especially old ones, who sit alone in their houses with safe, easy routines wasting the days away with TV. And I wonder if that’s really what the culmination of so many years is supposed to lead us to.
I see how here in America we are very good at seeking out new places, especially away from the people who reveal our selfishness. We leave people and go to places where we can do exactly what we want with people who won’t “judge” us or keep us from it.
And I realize how important being committed to a community is in preventing us from taking those little daily steps that in ten years will make us into someone we really don’t want to be.
Our church community group is starting up again and my dad gave me an interesting idea. He was in a little community group a long time ago that asked its members to commit to stay in the group for at least the whole year.
He said that it’s because it’s really hard to grow if every time we do something that upsets our friends, we leave and go where people won’t challenge us on it.
Maybe God asks us to be in close community because as our lives rub closely against others, it reveals the little unrefined corners and sharp burrs that we would be better off without. Like those little bugs that monkeys pick off each other. The ones that would make their home in us and fester and slowly turn us into nasty, itchy, grumpy creatures that NOBODY can live with. And if we are committed to our friends and wives, and families these things will be shown, and we have to either look at them and let our friends help us get rid of them or we will strain our whole community until we do.
So maybe manifest destiny isn’t bad, but when we go to new places and it’s with people that are holding us to a heavenly standard, the place we are heading toward will be heaven.
If you have reached out for community and have not been welcomed, I’m really sorry. That’s not the way it’s supposed to be. We all can be selfish. And maybe you are exactly what we need to realize we’re missing out.
Do you have any stories about people needing community?
Raw Spoon, August 12, 2013