REunite: Rejoin the Human Family
A woman is imperceptibly but progressively “edged out” of her friend circle. She doesn’t know why but feels like things changed after she was the first among their circle to have a baby.
A man eats lunch alone every day at his desk, feeling like he needs to get “one more thing done” before the workday is over. His blood pressure and family life suffer.
A couple leaves a church after a decade of attendance. They never really knew anyone. No one perceived that they were falling apart inside.
We, as a culture, have a major problem. Most of us think we are “on our own” in this world. We have been conditioned to aim for self-sufficiency. We’ve been taught to “look out for number one.”
Somehow along our path, through the education system, through parenting, and through expectations we’ve put upon ourselves, we decided that we had to find OUR way. So we focused on our job, our paycheck, our family plans, our nest egg. We merged onto the independent, rutted road to the “American dream.”
Meanwhile some of us have tried to “play nice” and “do nice” so we’ve joined organizations, clubs, and charities and we’ve tried to give from what – all too often – is a depleted reserve.
We are exhausted from trying to make our way alone.
But what if that model is wrong?
What if it’s broken and causing untold relational harm?
Sure, we’re tired, we reason. We’re just trying to keep it all together and make a good life for ourselves.
But what if that’s the problem? “For ourselves.”
Here are some outcomes of our cultural separated living:
- We can become jealous of someone’s victories because they didn’t happen to us. Instead of realizing a victory for one is advance for all
- We can exhaust ourselves with the struggle to “get somewhere” instead of having a loving family with whom we can enjoy the journey
- We can ignore those who are hurting in our own effort to keep ourselves safe
It’s time to REunite. It’s time to come back together; to unite again, with others.
Because as different as we are, we have a common experience.
We have a common Source. We’re all a part of the human family.
We’re sons and daughters.
We’re brothers and sisters.
We’re mothers and fathers.
Seriously, what if we actually believed that we are all one family?
What if we believed we’re brothers with our neighbor down the street who always forgets to take his garbage can back after garbage day? Would his brother take his trash can back to his driveway or seethe about the irresponsibility?
What if we believed we’re sisters with that new employee who seems to have a lot more skills and “upward mobility” than we do? Would her sister cheer on her career advancement or slink away to keep a safe distance and silently launch a comparison and competition game?
How would our daily life look different if we began to understand that what happens to one actually happens to another?
- It’s true in marriage. An attack on one is an attack on both. And when they tear each other down, they’re tearing themselves down.
- It’s true in families. What heartbreak one experiences is felt at a cellular level by the others in the home.
- It’s true in businesses. What one employee believes quietly impacts the others, for good or bad.
So why wouldn’t it be true for everyone?
We are all connected and we can’t escape that our experiences, hurts, joys, and attitudes impact others deeply.
Here’s the REAL MODEL: We all belong to the human family. Try as we might to do life alone, everything we experience is experienced by those to whom we’re connected.
If you are willing to depart from the exhausted and staunchly independent ways of the masses (don’t expect a “we miss you” note), you can step into a wonderful familial reality (that was there all along.)
That’s really as easy as it is.
It’s a change of thinking.
It’s a decision to leave one way of believing and acting and embrace another.
It’s an original mindset that predates all the structures that have incented all this striving.
You can REjoin the Family as a part of a whole, a valued member of a tribe.
We can start by observing ourselves, our expectations, and our reactions.
If we don’t like what we see, or if it isn’t making this world a better place, we can choose differently.
We can make new pathways in our mind.
What if –instead of irritation at our “me time” being interrupted, we acted as loving mother to the immature young lady doing our pedicure?
What if –instead of staring at our phone and getting a “jump on the workday”, we behaved as an interested father to that bearded barista who serves our morning coffee?
Our biggest human problem is not poverty or crime or pain. It’s separation.
Separation from one another.
Separation from love.
This is the ultimate “DIS:” DISunity, DIScord, and DISconnection. Separation from unity, accord, and connection. Separation from togetherness.
We allow ourselves to separate from one another, to shrink back, to judge, to compete, and to compare, because of FEAR. Because we are afraid someone will look better, do better, and be better than us. We’re afraid they’ll get something we won’t. We’re afraid they’re taking something from us – our comfort, our autonomy, our money, our way. And after all, we have to “look out for number one.” Back to the rutted road. Back to fearful self-protection and self-sufficiency.
And fear is the enemy of love.
If you are tired of living with even some of these games and struggles, it’s time to make a new way forward.
It’s as simple as taking OFF the lens of “me-first” and putting ON the lens of “us.”
- When you see your spouse as an “us;” things will begin to change.
- When you see your family as an “us;” you’re more likely to be connected for a lifetime.
- When you see your employer, your coworkers, and those you serve as an “us;” you’ll co-labor for good.
You see, “us vs. them” or “you vs. me” has no place in a healthy family.
That’s a tell-tale sign of self-imposed separation.
Those who engage in “versus” will sadly eat the fruit of that separation in their lives.
But those who break with contentious and self-protective thinking and choose to operate as a family open up a whole new world to themselves and others.
A world of love. Of forgiveness. Of togetherness. Of shared victories.
(Now I can’t finish this piece without noting that some among us haven’t had a healthy family experience – and those have a choice. A choice to remain apart to keep oneself safe. Or a choice to risk and to create what you never had. Both choices have outcomes. The former is a sure, lonely bet. The latter is risky, and admittedly sometimes messy, but filled with possibility. Which will you choose?)
Calling all sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers: Will you REunite?
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