Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Turtles and Friendship

This is the goofiest thing...

We've been moving some stuff around here at New Hope. Our preschoolers needed more space, so we've shifted stuff (Thank God for blessing us with preschoolers!).

Somehow in the transition, Sherry and I have wound up sharing our office with Samuel, the turtle (I hear it's temporary..).

I have been watching this stupid turtle today, thinking how sad and lonely he seems. I realize that he probably isn't actually lonely, but he sure appears to be. So I grabbed Sherry and Jeanne and we went to see if we could find a friend for him (we thought maybe the rain would have brought some turtles up from the pond). We were unsuccessful; however, Sherry did print a photo of a turtle that we taped to the side of the tank. I think he likes it. And, it will not surprise me one bit if Sherry brings a turtle in with her tomorrow.

Here's my point...I cannot stand the thought of loneliness. It breaks my heart to think of people (ok, and turtles, but mostly people) going through life feeling as if they don't have someone or a couple someones they can count on. I believe to my core that God created us for community - real community. If it were within my power, I would eradicate loneliness and fake friendships completely.

What is it that you believe to your core? What 'wrong' is God calling you to help make right? I'd love to hear your thoughts. And if you're like me and it's all about life-giving friendships, I'd love to know that too. Maybe we can work together to end turtle loneliness in our corner of the world.


PRS & ALS said...

I want to see people be able to be authentic with other people, without fear of judgment or rejection. The church, especially, should be a place where people can be themselves. But I don't know if that often happens in most church settings, or at least people don't feel safe enough to let it happen. I wonder what it would take for people to be freed from those fears that keep them from opening up and really connecting on a deeper level. I know for myself, it happens a little at a time, deosn't seem to be planned, and involves give and take. But I must be intentional about seeking out those with whom I can take a risk and then jumping in to risk. I've come to the point that I am willing to risk a person's judgment of me rather than be inauthentic.


Seeking More said...

I feel that God is calling me to help break down the walls of the church as we know it. In my core, I feel that being more like Christ and showing others love is the force that is driving me. Slowly changing the way that I look at others. From judging to loving. For example:

Years ago, I worked as a manager in a retail store. There was a man who grabbed a bunch of things off the shelf and ran for it. Well, being foolish as I was, I took off after him. We ran into the cops "luckily" on the way out of the mall and he was arrested. I went to court to make sure he was punished for trying to steal from me. I will never forget his face. He, to me then, was obviously going to sell "my" stuff for drugs or alcohol. I actually felt hate for this man.

Years and lots of growing in Christ later, I saw this man while working at my sisters pizza shop. He came up and was starving. He needed something to eat. As I said before, I will never forget his face. I gave him some food. He was so thankful. Truely thankful. I could see it in his eyes. At that moment I knew my heart was changed. I felt ashamed of myself for what I did to him before. Maybe he was going to sell those things that were "mine" so that he could eat.

I hope that I will always remember this example when I am quick to jugde someone. Everyone needs to be loved and feel Gods love. Sometimes we forget this responsibility lies within us all. I pray that I never do again.

vic said...

Amy and Seeking More,
Thanks for your thoughts. Authenticity and love. They seem to be inextricably connected. Authenticity without fear of judgment or rejection…Breaking down the walls of church as we know it. I love that. I wonder how widespread that desire is? I know it is the desire of my heart…

I can’t speak to all church settings, but here are some ramblings I have this morning that are specific to New Hope:
• I have so appreciated the authenticity I’ve witnessed in New Hope’s lead Pastors. I think because of that modeling, we are a lot further along than some other churches. However, we don’t have a great forum for being real. In the weekend setting, I wonder if some of those fears could be reduced if we strive to make the weekend gatherings more about a group of people coming together to share what’s going on in their journey and less about the formal gathering. We all know that each one of us has baggage, so why is there this need to try to stuff our carry-ons under the seat? Does our format feed into that feeling?

• Small groups play a role. I am finding, though, that the most successful, life-giving friendships happen almost by accident (sometimes in a small group, sometimes not). Amy, I think you’re right. It can’t be programmed. It’s intentionality, not programmality (my blog, I get to create words if I see fit:). I don’t know that I would ever be able to stop creating environments where friendship could happen, but how do we create those environments without mandating friendship? When you mandate it, it becomes inherently fake.

• My other thought this morning is this…I wonder if, as we focus outward – on the hurting, lonely, hungry – if the needs we feel (for friendship, for someone to understand us and cheer us on without judgment) would just happen. May be too idealistic a thought, I don’t know.

Sometimes I think I focus too much on my needs (“I’m lonely, I need someone to talk to, I want…”). If I could just focus outward on a regular basis, then maybe God would connect me with others on that journey and the friendship need would be met – the byproduct, not the goal.

Thanks again for your input. You’ve given me a lot to think about.

Sherry said...

This is some great stuff. Great things to ponder. But, I'm having a hard time getting past "stupid turtle" Luv ya Vic!