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We need to share our humanity

We move so fast and want to accomplish so much. When I say “we,” I mean the American work-first, play-later culture. But, hey,  I’m right up there at the front of the line. I have a well-developed work-ethic and when I’m on project, I can look a little OCD. And when do I not have a dozen pro…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
We move so fast and want to accomplish so much. When I say “we,” I mean the American work-first, play-later culture. But, hey,  I’m right up there at the front of the line. I have a well-developed work-ethic and when I’m on project, I can look a little OCD. And when do I not have a dozen projects going on?
It’s easy to lose track of your humanity in that kind of a milieu. You get on the phone and your first words are, “So, how are we doing relative to the deadline?” Not, “Hi, how are you?” Not a probing of real issues.
I should know better. As a missionary, I can tell you that I had to put relationships first. Not to be a good missionary, but just to be someone who could relate to Indonesians or Dominicans. They were all about the relationships.
Here in America, I need reminders of my humanity. And God gives me plenty. After exercising this morning, I had an ENT check out my ongoing sinus issues. “Man, this thing is chronic – I’m getting old!” I thought.
Arriving at the office, my daughter Talia was sick and headed home. But Asha, the puppy she raised and Karen and I adopted, was sicker still. So she took her to the vet. I’m living a fast-paced life, but that dog brings out my humanity. I carry her like a baby around the house. She makes the family laugh.
I don’t worry about hardly anything, but I worry about Asha alone at the vets tonight. The dog lovers out there know what I mean. Is that ironic? Our shared love of dogs makes us more human.
Later in the day I sat down with a young lady I’d mentored and been close to. Hadn’t seen her in a few years. It was good to connect – she’s sharp, a go-getter. I began by asking her about her flight connections a few hours hence, then about the job, and then, with just about ten minutes to go, about herself and stuff that was important.
She is in a hard knocks environment in a big city and I could sense something that she needed to talk about. I probed. Someone close to her had died. There was a lot beneath the surface that needed a conversation, but there wasn’t enough time to really go there. I hugged her goodbye and thought, “I need to pray and follow up.”
At home, Emily, who like Asha, makes me laugh, had a friend over. I took off the CEO hat, made some small talk, cooked them dinner from the garden, and then we all watched one of our favorite scenes from Lord of the Rings.
These are postcards from my day. Man did I feel weak in spots. But the gospel is all about God giving grace to the weak. He loves our humanity. He wishes we’d kick off our shoes and share it more.
The national debt crisis will wait. The bills I need to pay tonight. The problems I left behind at the office.  But pull back the curtain on my humanity and I look just like you in so many ways. Your insecurities and fears. The things you try to keep hidden. I’ve got them too.
And if we could just drop the pretense and share them a little more, I think a lot of our issues wouldn’t loom so large in our lives. Church might actually work for us instead of being a drag.
A lot of people tweet ideas and accomplishments and appointments. When I tweet, I often try to tell a little story that touches some aspect of our shared humanity. “I left the iphone on the car roof and it fell off when I pulled out of the gas station.” Or, “I was running and a snake in the road scared me.”
And you go, “Yeah, that’s me too. I did that. Hey, I’m not the only guy that feels like a knucklehead.”
Jesus prayed that we’d be unified. I’ve thought before that he meant it in some super-spiritual way. But now I think he meant it in the opposite way. Unified like an AA group is unified. We’re all human. We come from dust and we die. We need each other. We need grace and we need to extend it. I think it’s the main point of our lives.

Comments (7)

  • I was pondering on this theme just last night. I like to create some sort of summary/proverb-esque statement once I’ve gathered all of my thoughts together. Here’s what I came up with:

    Once we realize every physical action we take ( looking, touching, tasting, remembering, expressing, etc. ) leaves spiritual trails, then we begin to appreciate our humanity.

    Parsing that out…

    Humanity is not only that we live and die and have experiences… by definition, humanity is us… collectively. So everything we experience not only has spiritual influence, but also has collective consequence. I’m reminded of those Liberty Mutual commercials…


    I’ve heard it said “everything is spiritual”. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard someone say “everything is physical”. I think I can resonate more with that. Sure I understand the first statement, but without the context of the second statement I lack my humanness. I lack my ability to be collectively… humanity.

    Maybe I’m missing something, but I think we build relationships physically (time is definitely a physical dimension). I love people because I have shared meaningful, and sometimes painful, physical experiences with them. I’ve always found it hard to relate deeply with people I only know for a week or two.

    The spiritual element of our relationships would lack something if we didn’t experience it, perceive it, if it didn’t have something in which to resonate. Could that be the reason for the animal sacrifices throughout the Old Testament? The reason for The human sacrifice in the New Testament?

    I find myself thinking… I can resonate with that! I can have a relationship with that. Its tangible. Its everything spiritual made perfectly physical. I am a human that needs to resonate with other humans. I cannot resonate in something spiritual, something bodiless.

    I can resonate with the sight of spilled blood, the chills from cries of anguish, and the heartbreak of a betrayal kiss. I needed my God to be physical, for my sake. Now we can relate spiritually, for His sake.

  • Mary Lou – ironic that I owe you a call. Will call today to hear about Peru.

    Preston – love your analysis. I believe Liberty Mutual’s founder was a strong Christian who used to have evangelistic Bible Studies in his home.

  • Wow. Dead-on with what I felt the Lord tell me this morning, “Be a relator and engage with peoples’ lives.” Talk about a confirmation…

  • I’m not sure about sobering. I was thinking more like liberating. For those of us who have spent most of our lives worrying about what people think, it’s so liberating to finally be at a place in our lives where we can be okay with not having it all together.

    You know, I stil don’t like the gray hairs or the extra fat cells that have accumulated, or the temper tantrums that still rise up on occasion. There’s a lot of things that are still a work in progress, and I do continue to work at them because they do matter. But, even on the days when all of those things show, and the whole world can see them, I still like myself and I’m still okay because we’re all in it together and it only makes me more me.

  • AMEN TO THAT SETH!!!!!!!!We Americans are sooo busy,that is why I love beening in Peru,we fellowship with one another and set and pray and listen to one another.
    mary lou

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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