Garage Door Syndrome
The song continues to inspire me forever.
May 2, 2013
A couple of losses over the last few years prompted me to consider the state of connections among people and whether or not something of an epidemic has developed. This has been on my mind for a while, but I was sidelined by having to edit and repost many of my previous entries.
I actually searched briefly using this entry title and discovered that it refers to urology, so I better first clarify that this is NOT the subject of my current thoughts! Now that we got that out of the way, on to the real topic. As I stated, a couple of losses (not that of my husband) got me thinking. In both cases, the decedents were known to live alone. In at least one case, we exchanged some details of life, and I discovered that the cats were the companions and that there may have been something of a desertion on the part of a spouse. The person never mentioned a legal divorce to my recollection. I bear in mind that I only heard one side of the story. In the other case, I hardly knew the person at all, and details I do hear are just secondhand. The good thing in the 2nd case was that the person seemed to have friends who were aware enough of habits that they thought it prudent to do a check-up when they hadn't heard from the person.
The thought hit like a bolt of lightning: Any one of us could ask the question, How long would it be before people thought something was wrong? I indict myself in this question as well. I've found myself having to regretfully admit too many times that I didn't notice someone wasn't at church or that someone no longer worked with us. I think to myself, There just aren't enough hours in the day. There are so many boundaries and dangers to consider. How far do you go in getting into someone's life or letting someone into yours so you won't invite unnecessary drama?
Just now, I wanted to see if this isolation problem was just something I imagined, and I came across this. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-depression-cure/200907/social-isolation-modern-plague
So it's obviously a real concern if not an epidemic. Before I learned that it was a term used in medical journals, I thought of the title because I realized what happens so often. It happens at my parents' house. It happens at some friends' houses. Click the garage door opener, pull in, click the garage door shut, enter the house. A good friend told me that while she was caring for her mom, she literally didn't know for the entire 9 months that the neighbor was pregnant! My parents at least can claim a language barrier, although they make the effort by bringing Chinese pork buns to the neighbors across the street because they know the wife likes them. Neither being any kind of builder nor architect, I can only guess that suburban design is partly to blame. It seems that to a large extent, gone are front porches, front gardens, and other such things that used to invite conversation. Maybe homeowners' associations are also partially at fault for demanding so much uniformity. But the same goes for apartment dwellers. I'm guilty of this. I come in and shut the door behind me after 12 hours out. I also use the excuse that now that it's getting hot, mosquitoes come out, and they love me a little too much. Wow, even the word struck me just now: apart-ment! So descriptive! In Britain they're called flats. I've only half-jokingly said that if people don't see me online for several days and my phone goes straight to the voicemail, they should check up, that is, if I haven't given prior notice of my whereabouts.
But I return to the question of what to do. The wish to avoid drama, the healthy fear of danger, and the reality of long work hours all present valid barriers to connections. But recently I've asked the Lord to help me understand what I can do to combat this unhealthy trend, both in me and for the sake of others. I've tried to be more intentional about noticing friends who are not at church and calling. I'm asking Him to also set up divine appointments here at my own building. I remembered the Bible's admonition that certain church leaders--and by extension all followers of Jesus Christ--should be given to hospitality, for I believe judgment begins with the house of God. As I searched for perspective on the subject, I found this. hppp://www.faithepchurch.org/.../Hospitality.pdf
Perhaps in this interesting age, we need extra wisdom and guidance to know when to step in and when to stay out. So if you're reading and you're the praying type, join me and we'll pray with all our might for that wisdom. Even if you don't believe in prayer, we could all use wisdom in this area. It's like dealing with the question of whether to help a person asking for money on the streets. Are we enabling if we help? Are we missing a divine appointment if we don't? Not easy. But judging from the numerous characters in the Bible who accomplished great things because someone laid aside possible fears or consequences and practiced hospitality, I'd say it's a good skill to sharpen. And based on a cursory perusing of the link above, it means far more than simply entertaining. Everyone who really knows me knows my favorite song and what I've taken from it. Now that I have received from it at the hand of the Lord, I, for one, plan to take the message to everyone to whom God leads who needs to know they're not alone.