I ran into one of Chandler’s former tutors in the bakery yesterday and he started talking about how the internet, cell phones and social media have changed the nature of relationships, especially for Gen X, Y, and Millennials. He specializes in working with kids who struggle with learning disabilities. In his observation, most kids now text their relationships out as much as they talk. He mentioned a couple of autistic kids he works with who hardly ever talk at all who would have been social outcasts ten years ago, but today they are popular with friends everywhere via text. Have you ever noticed someone struggling with something to say and they suddenly hold up an imaginary cell phone and tap the air with their thumbs as a gesture that will somehow help them formulate their thoughts? It’s a generation that thinks with its thumbs.
Now take that picture and throw in us Boomers who largely feel technologically challenged in the world of social media and figure out how we’re going to all get along. Just when we’ve finally figured out the remote, they throw an iPhone at us and assume we know what’s in an emoji face. How will we get along when it’s so easy to misunderstand or be misunderstood if we’re not face-to-face?
I’m merely using these introductory thoughts as a can opener to pry open a discussion about relationships, which is what we are going to be concerned about for the next couple of weeks. Our relationships are the closest we come to God on earth. He has chosen to make us in His image and to even make us His dwelling place on earth. My good friend and our guest last night on BlogTalkRadio, Dan Collins, who lives right on the edge of one of those fire-ravaged areas of southern California, mentioned how the recent disaster has brought out such good will from so many people that even those who don’t know God are nonetheless expressing His goodness when they reach out to their neighbors. Our relationships are where we experience God most in this world.
So here’s my opening statement about this topic: You’d think that at my age and with my gifts, I would have this down. That being a student of the word, I would be moving freely among many deep relationships both in and out of the body of Christ. Truth of the matter is, I am more like those autistic kids I mentioned than not. I do well online, but in person, well, you might say I struggle with relationship disabilities.
So on one hand you could say I’m the worst one to be writing about this, or on the other, I am the most qualified because I have much to learn and we can all learn together. As I understand it, that’s one of the strengths of the Catch — we are all in process, working out our salvation together “with fear and trembling, because it is God who works within us to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12). We are on the move, spiritually and relationally, and to move somewhere means we have to tackle problems, remove barriers, and stare down demons. So for me to face into my issues is to hopefully make it easier for you to come along with me and face into yours. Let’s at least do this together!