So my soul has been disturbed lately, and I've been trying to figure out why. I can't exactly put a finger on it, but I'm angry on the inside. About several things that I am not sure are appropriate for a blog, but I think the issues all have the same root.
And I think the root is actually that I'm just so tired of this culture that doesn't talk face to face anymore. (I do realize the irony of that sentence on a blog, by the way.) I ACHE for the days that my parents used to tell me about, when neighbors used to just sit out and talk face to face for hours on end while their children ran throughout the neighborhood. And I long for the days when fellowship halls were crowded in churches between services. (Okay honestly, I walked by the fellowship hall today at my church, and in fact it was crowded. That's a good thing. But it was crowded with the generations prior to my generation. This obviously doesn't mean I can't join them...I love chatting with and learning from those wiser than me...but it's noticeable nonetheless).
Our generation doesn't know how to fellowship. And it's making me lonely. And the loneliness and lack of human vulnerability in our culture is making me angry. Not just for myself. I have great friends and a stellar husband. But I'm angry for my children, and how impersonal the world is for them. And for the Church. If the Gospel is anything it's extraordinarily personal. But how does that fit in such an impersonal culture?
I was just on the phone with my husband (talking his ear off because I haven't spoken to an adult for more than 2 minutes all day long, even though I was at church for 4 hours today), going on and on about these issues I'm angry about. And I told him that I don't like how it feels to have so much anger inside and I want it to just go away. And he said, "Well maybe you're supposed to be angry." What a helpful thing to remember that there actually are some things that should in fact make us angry. And this culture of loneliness and not actively caring and loving one another really does make me angry.
It seems that I have become very much more aware of this issue since my mom died. I realized recently that the increased loneliness I feel is because I no longer have a mom to call and talk to. You know those times when you just don't know what to do so you automatically, without even thinking, pick up the phone and call your mom? I can't do that. You know those times when you just feel like talking so you call your mom because you know she'll listen? Everyone else is too busy but your mom always has time for you? I can't do that. And so in that void, you come to realize that our culture is no longer a "hey, let's talk" kind of culture. And the reality of it smacks you like a freight train over and over and over and over. And it makes me angry.
Our generation sits together and chats, but usually everyone has their phone in hand, scrolling facebook or twitter while nodding at one another intermittently and trying to multitask, at the detriment of true conversational intimacy. Even in church fellowship areas...areas specifically designed for fellowship, but everyone is in their personal bubble staring at their phone. I honestly wish there were NO-PHONE zones in our churches.
By the way, I'm totally guilty of this too, both in the fellowship areas at church AND around my children. As a result, about five weeks ago God told me I was no longer allowed to have facebook on my phone because I had my face in my phone way too much, particularly around my children. I thought it was like a month-long trial I was supposed to undergo. God made it very clear that He wasn't kidding so I obeyed and deleted my facebook app. Then this week, since it had been four weeks, I tried several times to put facebook back onto my phone, and would you believe it EVERY SINGLE TIME my phone told me there was an error in the app play store thing and it couldn't install facebook? Ummmm...okay God. I get it.
But this communication meltdown makes me angry because I think it's so dangerous and careless of our generation to let this happen. Look how poorly we communicate face to face compared to our parent's generation? Let's face it, most of us ADULTS AND YOUNG PARENTS now even prefer to text rather than pick up the phone and talk to someone voice to voice (myself fully guilty). We used to say that TEENS texted all day. But we can't even say that this is the teens anymore. IT'S US. ADULTS. And again, I am 100% guilty. Rather than going to my neighbor's house to tell my child it's time to come home for supper, I text my neighbors and ask them to send my children home. It's embarrassing just admitting that. But unfortunately I bet you do it too. I am terrible at making phone calls and an avid texter, to a fault. It would be so much faster to call than to text back and forth five bazillion times. But it's like voice to voice is too vulnerable for us. So if we can't talk voice to voice, how can we talk face to face? Sure, we can talk about the weather face to face, but I mean REALLY talk.
So if WE can't communicate well in our generation, face to face or even voice to voice, what kind of lonely, pathetic, isolated, impersonal void of a community are we raising our children to be? This is why I think it's dangerous. Because our children happen to have souls that were created for community, and we are actively tearing down the very reality of community right before their eyes.
And how is the CHURCH possibly going to bring the overwhelmingly personal love of Jesus into a world that can't communicate face to face? How are we going to raise up the next generation of Christians to proclaim the Gospel if they aren't able to talk face to face with another person? I just wonder, how many marriages would be saved if friends could talk face to face about the reality of pain and brokenness in our lives? How many bullying issues in our schools could be stopped if we could teach our children to communicate face to face? How many hearts that are totally broken over sin, disease, loneliness, loss, grief, despair, stress, worry, could be healed through a face to face conversation with someone who actually cares?
A great example of this is when my mom died. Or when I had two miscarriages. Guess what one of the primary means of reaching out to me was? You got it. Texting and Facebook. Now, I realize that there is a strength in this, and I don't want to undermine the love and care that came through text & facebook messages in the midst of despair. But you know what is better? Your presence. Real presence. Face to face presence. In the Bible when Job's life turned upside down, his best friends came to SIT WITH HIM. They just sat there, silently, for SEVEN DAYS. They were present. They were face to face.
People used to really really help each other. Like, in person. Not just write on each other's facebook walls, but really help each other. (Again, I am all for facebook...and I obviously am pro-blogging; I just also wish we could go beyond that as a society). I ache for those days to be a reality again. I want Sundays to be the days where people "go visiting" again just for the sake of visiting. I want to be better at picking up the phone and CALLING without always worrying that I'll be interrupting a friend's day. I am horrible at this. And I'm horrible at answering the phone because usually I'm in the middle of some "situation" with a child. But I WANT to be better at talking voice to voice, and face to face. I want to teach my children to communicate for REAL and not just in false pretenses.
So I think that's why my soul is so disturbed. Life is really hard for everyone. It's actually guaranteed in Scripture that life is going to be very hard. That's not the part that upsets me. But what upsets me is that God created us for community because He KNEW that life was going to be hard, and now we are tearing down the very community we were created for. And I am not sure how, but I know I need to do my part to change this. I can't just sit back and allow my children to grow lonely in a lonely world made up of lonely people and not do anything about it.
I want to model to my children how to be present with a friend going through pain and struggle. I also want to model to my children how to celebrate joy with a friend and embrace the fullness of life in community with one another. In person. In community. In the flesh.
Just like Jesus came here to be with us in the flesh. Jesus is IMMANUEL, God with us. And we are created in God's image, so we are supposed to be with one another too. WITH one another. Not simply on facebook or texting (although perhaps that additionally), but primarily in person. Voice to Voice. Friend to Friend. Child of God alongside another child of God. Messed up sinner helping messed up sinner. One broken heart side by side another broken heart. Face to face.