By: Eric Ames
That’s not a typo. I didn’t mean to say “wife” (honey, don’t hit me). A few days ago our cable internet went out. All day and all night, we had no wifi. Oh the humanity.
Now, I work from home and we use the internet a lot. Recently I read about how the evening routine for many families is using multiple devices throughout the home for playing games, surfing the web, or catching up on Netflix episodes. We have pretty good rules around our home about screen time, but our evenings do look a bit like this.
Well that wasn’t going to happen on this night. So, instead of our usual wind down time before bed, where the kids are allowed a little TV, we let them stay outside and play late into the evening with their neighbourhood friends. Picture seven red-faced, sweaty boys running around playing swords, tag and who knows what else long past bedtime as six parents stood in a circle on the sidewalk talking, laughing and reminiscing about what the world was like when we were kids. The ice cream truck happened by and we all grabbed a rocket popsicle or chocolate & vanilla swirl.
We have great neighbours on our street and we’re all fairly social when we aren’t hibernating from the Canadian winter, but this time we got to really connect with some parents we don’t see as often. Others were outside too – one person was out doing their gardening because, as he laughed and shouted, “no Netflix!” I’m sure if we did a head count on the street there were indeed more people outside than usual.
Isn’t this a good thing?
We live in ever-closer built communities, and yet reports of depression and social isolation have never been higher…We care to be polite, but how much do we really want to love our neighbours?
We live in ever-closer built communities, and yet reports of depression and social isolation have never been higher. The eavestroughs on our roofs are touching but we have little to no contact with the people inside the house next door. We cross paths on the way to work or from the grocery store, and throw each other the standard “Hi, how are you?”, “Fine thank you!” just to make sure there isn’t some kind of embarrassing silence. We care to be polite, but how much do we really want to love our neighbours?
The truth is, taking time for meaningful connection will often challenge our demanding schedules and to-do lists. It’s not that we really don’t care, or aren’t busy with good or important things, but I should be concerned if I always feel like I don’t have time to stop and actually have a chat with my neighbour. Jesus had important things to do too, but he always took time for those around him, be it his friends, family, a leper, an outcast, or precious little children.
It’s good for us to connect, or reconnect, with those around us. It starts with us and God, then our spouse and family, and outward from there. As God’s people, we are connected to the author and designer of human relationship, and the world needs God’s people to be pouring out his love through relationship more than ever. How many news reports have we seen where neighbours are shocked that someone on their street took their life, committed a crime, or was involved in something they had no idea about? The world needs more of the Prince of Peace, and He needs His body to bring them a taste of that peace with our words, hands and feet.
While you may not pray for your wifi to go out, perhaps don’t pray for it to come back on quickly either. Connect with the people around you.
The gathering that night wasn’t a big thing. And yet it was. Relationship is always a big thing, and through it we got to know the people on our street a bit better, plant trust a bit deeper, and bring Christ a bit closer to those around us.
So while you may not pray for your wifi to go out, perhaps don’t pray for it to come back on quickly either. Connect with the people around you. Like my neighbour said, “there’s nothing like a power outage to bring people together.”
– Eric Ames is the Communications Director for Transformation Canada.