The cover photo for this post says a lot about socializing, doesn’t it? Okay, so maybe not to you and maybe not without explanation. This is a photo mid-project of a house we are still finishing off flipping. We bought a house in South Carolina and got to go out there from California – drove all the way with our kiddos and dog with our truck and tow-behind RV. It was quite a trip, quite an adventure! By God’s grace we pulled it off… off the road that is when the wheel was sparking and wanting to light our home on wheels on fire!!! Yes, there were many adventures, but we made it through by God’s grace… through the nights of such intense rain… through the time when a pipe burse in the older piping and flooded the crawl space, through the lighting storm that turned out to be a tornado above head that weather watchers were watching and saying, “That’s a big ‘un! That could wipe those Moes out!” We are are and back in Cali and we picked up a kitten while out there… Kee Kee is our loyal little cat. What am I getting at? We got to socialize quite a lot as a family and with those we met along the journey and with those we met there in our little neighborhood where the house is still located… decided to keep the house where it sits as much as we wanted to bring it back to Cali with us.
Have we stopped to think this through? I’ve chosen as of yesterday to just go for it and deactivate my Facebook account. I can still message with folks under my alias as Peter Anderson, but otherwise I don’t exist on social media. I’ve been inactive on Instagram for some time now, and I barely touch LinkedIn anymore since I’m not aspiring to any career changes besides increasing some real estate investing. God guides day-by-day, and I’ve even stepped into using an “old timer’s” flip phone 23 hours of the day with a max of one hour a day (30 mins in AM and 30 mins in PM) to touch my “smart” phone, which I’ve more and more come to believe makes us more dumb in the most important senses. While we may consume more data and be more computer-like as humans as we play our podcasts and watch our YouTubes and produce our content and push our posts and shares and video content, etc, we become more and more ineffective in the face-to-face. We become so focused on all of the repeating going on that we lose more and more of our ability to be original – being who God has wired us to be.
Being “original” honestly is more and more popular, but as a comedian I’ve enjoyed says (except for his crass language and inappropriate things he does periodically – sadly a common practice among comedians)… “The new original is being normal!” He has played off this comedic point for some time. This isn’t a perfect quote of what he says, but it’s true that it’s actually quite refreshing to take a few steps back.
I’ve been day dreaming and praying for God’s wisdom as to how to get back to having some land, raising some chickens for meat and some for eggs, maybe having a milk cow, growing some food… I’m not alone in this. This “normal” that used to be the normal of the USA in many respects, is trending. Should I stray away from this leaning I’ve had because it’s getting popular again? No. Should I feel I’m just a follower by taking steps toward bringing this into reality for my family? No. More importantly I’ve begun praying about and seeking God about why this longing has formed in my heart. It’s a pure longing, I’m learning, something admirable and beautiful, something needed in fact in some respects among day-to-day humanity. There is something redeeming and refreshing about feeding one’s family from the ground, growing food, needing to labor at some things to see food and housing and warmth produced, etc. When we do this, we realize and appreciate what God has provided to us, and we become less dependent upon the mechanization of life that we as humanity have idolized more and more. The ease we worship may kill us in time.
A cartoon my wife and I often bring up is Wall-E. https://youtu.be/_kslEYbMr1g
Of course there is a theme here of “tree hugger”… ha ha… What we took away though was the predictive aspect. We periodically bring up this cartoon and think of the picture it paints of the world and Americans in-particular, mechanizing everything in our world, turning all of our housing ideals into suburbs for instance, turning all of our transportation into self-driving cars as quickly as possible, pushing and pushing for more ease, more comfort, more security, and yet in so doing, becoming less and less capable to connect with the realities of what it takes to produce healthy food, rhythms, generosity among neighbors, hospitality, and the community that comes from not all rolling into our garages and closing the doors behind us, never to see our neighbors besides when absolutely necessary.
May God give Jesus followers the wisdom and humility to genuinely let go of some of our stuff, some of our “need for comfort” and step into relationship with others through basic day-to-day labors of love such as cooking, growing food, raising animals, helping each other with needs by some level of bartering, lifting each other’s burdens by some level of inter-dependence. Hey, I need this and I have this to offer… Maybe we could swap goods/services… Oh, we are getting to run into each other and needing to work out our differences in the process.
I don’t presume to say I know how this all plays out, but I do know we are called to care for one another and care for the lost, the needy, the broken, and lost.
May God give us the humility and dilligence to put down our devices and serve and socialize with one another in a loving and faithful way, not just try to catch the cool kids’ gaze but instead be cool and kind by actually showing up for your family and getting to know your neighbors’ actual needs instead of just trying to get their “friendship” without any inter-dependence.
I suppose in closing, I’m realizing that labors of love to provide for one’s family often result in plenty of socialization and interaction and God leads us in those moments to build community, encourage the found, and reach the lost.
Labor at provision for your family and watch God give you more and more opportunities to make disciples of Jesus in those contexts and encourage existing disciples of Jesus in those contexts -work, neighboring, commerce, travel, etc.