A little while back I got to sit in a meeting with lots of professional people who really did know what they were talking about. I got to sit as a friend and church leader representing a beautiful couple who needed to have this meeting for all sorts of very good reasons. An hour passed and I thought about what everyone was saying, I then realised that what I didn’t hear was the support they had from friends. Where did they get to ‘be’ with? Where did they find people to love them and care for them and stand beside them when the torrents of life came. Where those professional boundaries aren’t in place but the circle of friendship is drawn.
As I was making the bed later on (not even in the morning! Shock to some I know) I thought about this meeting and then I thought about how my life, my world, the bringing up of my kids, the clothes I wear and the make up on my face has been inspired by the many friends in my life. How I found out what I would like my décor to be, or what shoes I would like to wear. How I would have peace in the toils of bringing up toddlers, feeding babes long into the night, how I chose schools or hear about others and their morning routines. My life is made of a tapestry of many good friends. A jumble of ideas and experiences with people who take off the mask of perfection and help me in turn remove my mask of perfection. Friends who would encourage, console, laugh and be my sounding board and punch bag (metaphorically). Friends who do not walk away easily but stay the course, turning up and showing up.
In this meeting I used my voice and I praised and thanked all the professional bodies who were involved, without them this family wouldn’t be where they were. I then asked the question ‘what about their community, their friends who show them what normal life is like?’ What about friends in their lives who show up and turn up? What about friends who have them round for dinner so they can get to know them, love them and care for them? I went as far in this meeting to say, let us their church be those friends. We’ll be their community, their family.
This whole experience reminded me of Judges 18 were it talks about the people of Laish. Outwardly they looked great. They were prosperous and unsuspecting. Self-sufficient. And this is why the Danites could attack them and capture their city. What struck me was this verse ‘there was no-one there to rescue them because they lived a long way from Sidon and had no relationship with anyone else’. The people of Laish were attacked and captured because they had no relationship with anyone else. It says this twice. Once in verse 7 and again verse 28. Usually if God puts it in twice it means something. The people of Laish didn’t have anyone to help them fight when attack came.
The beauty of our lives is that we get to be friends to people and they get to be our friends and somehow we learn to love, care and protect each other from isolation, from being self-sufficient and inward focusing. I feel so strongly about this, our relationship with God is not made to be alone. We are made for relationship. It began with the Trinity. God’s presence three in one. Relationship. We get to sit around the table (or if you don’t have one – your living room) and feel Gods presence most profoundly. I know for me this is where my most spiritual moments have happened. These moments involve open homes, food, eye contact, slowing down, loving, caring, listening and talking. The most amazing thing about this is that we can all do it. No matter how small our home is. No matter how good a cook you are. I have some of my best stories of having people round in our one bedroom flat, no table and a takeaway. Don’t let yourself wander away from the table. I admired a friend who recently had six of us round and they had no kitchen at all, it was all but rubble. They didn’t let that put them off. We ordered take out and we sat eating our dinner on our knees, I knew that we were friends. No pretence just six friends getting together because in the end people are way more important than what your kitchen looks like. I admire my friends who make me lunch and we sit in their kitchen where every pot and pan is stored in the oven because there is not enough space. I love the most when I go to my sister’s house or my best friend’s house and the house is what it is. I feel like I am there and for that time more important than anything else. Around this table there is always room for one more. More and more am I realising that what happens around your kitchen table is when we find what community is really all about with those ‘who don’t have relationship with anyone else’. Pulling up that chair, accepting them into the family. Be someone’s people. Let us be a generation, an alternative way from the isolation and self-sufficiency and the walls that people build. Be the person that allows God in those moment be present, working and among you.