On "Doing Life" Together
Recently I've been sharing some amazing conversations with a couple of good friends at a local hookah lounge. There's something about getting together. Talking. Hashing things out. Listening. Philosophizing. I imagine the greeks doing this. Asking questions that no one has imagined. Offering answers to undiscovered mysteries. Here I offered my own question. A loaded question.
What does it mean to "Do life" together?
Christians have heard this phrase before. We throw it in with "Small Groups" and "Community" every now and then. For those who don't know, "Doing Life" is our new way of saying, "Be involved. Engage. Love people. Carry each other's burdens. Sharpen like iron." etc. We understand this as a Biblical directive. To truly be a follower of Jesus, this isn't optional.
For some of us this means more coffee dates, lunch meetings, intentional conversations, or general one-on-ones where we attempt to catch up, dig in, or be vulnerable with our struggles. The problem is that there's no clear cut formula for "doing life" together. The bible doesn't outline how we can better engage in people's lives. Moreover, we are underestimating the power of relationships as completely organic, changing, and transitional. Though we have ideas of what it means to do life together, as outlined above, I can't help but wonder if these are just starting points, surface level, or altogether empty gestures that miss the example Jesus set for us. I'm not saying these things are completely wrong - from time-to-time - Just that there must be more.
So I ask again...what does it mean to "Do Life" together?
Is it about catching up? Meeting for coffee once-a-week and sharing our experiences? Is it attending more small groups and bible studies? Planning events that everyone can attend and question "How's it going?"? Is it calling each other out and revealing temptations? Confessing our sins and holding each other accountable?
These are nice things to consider. I don't hold this against anyone. However - what happened to experiencing life together? Finding common interests and exploring these things first hand? Walking the same paths. Sharing the same stories. Connecting with each other through adventure and experience. Talking - I think - is where we've become stuck; to where the "Doing" has been lost on us almost completely.
I illustrated my answer with one of my favorite analogies about life. What I believe God has intended for us. I call it "Uncharted."
Imagine you're in a rainforest. One that - for you - is completely undiscovered (or Uncharted Territory.)
This is what I like to call life - from a completely metaphorical standpoint, of course. Imagine as you go through life, you are walking through any of these majestic locations. Perhaps you're lost, have no clue where you're going, or perhaps there's a specific point on a map that you're trying to get to, but you don't know how. That's the challenge of life. That's the whole adventure.
I can go on and on about why this is an apt analogy for God and our lives, but right now I want to focus a little closer on relationships within these uncharted territories - Our friendships formed by the people we meet along the way. Sometimes we meet people who have been through the path we just came from. Sometimes they have already been to where we are going. We come across fellow adventurers from time to time. We break bread together. Share our stories. Revel in each other's experiences. We may share a couple of nights in each other's company before we move on, with new insight or new motivation to keep us moving forward, unsure if we might ever see them again but hopeful our paths may cross again someday. Sometimes - though - these people are going the same direction as us.
Now imagine ourselves "doing life" in it's current context of coffee dates and lunch meetings. Here is where we see this person in the forest who is going the same direction as us, and we come to a mutual agreement. "You take this route, and I'll take this route, and every now and then we'll find each other and share details about our journey. Then we'll do this again and again. It'll be fantastic. We'll learn so much."
This seems a little strange...doesn't it?
I mean - we're both going the same direction - aren't we? Why are we so adamant about doing this alone?
This is where I think we've got "Doing life" down wrong. From this perspective it just doesn't make sense. Sure the intentions might be wonderful, and from a purely mentor/disciple relationship I could see something like this working, but even a mentor has to be there to guide you at times. Doing life then should look a little something like inviting the other person along for the journey. Walking the same path. Sharing the same story.
Have you ever done something like this with another person? You get to learn quite a bit about them.
Sometimes you have arguments, and sometimes you share the same blanket. Sometimes you're both swimming under a waterfall, and sometimes one is helping the other hobble on one foot after a bad fall. You're going to experience each other's sounds, smells, and touch. You're going to teach one another new skills. There's going to be laughter, crying, and silence at times - because words are just not enough - or unnecessary. You will take more challenging routes because you're not alone, and there is confidence you can do it together. This is what it looks like, on the adventure of life, to really engage and be involved - "Do Life" together.
It seems that every time I come to a new revelation such as this, that there's another form of media that backs up my hypothesis. So instead of leaving you with a clunky conclusion I'm going to leave you this short film from The Animation Workshop. I stumbled upon it the very night that I expressed these thoughts to my friends at the hookah lounge, and I think you'll understand why I've included it along with this post. It's called "The Reward". Enjoy.