Strive to Foster Deep Connections
Editor’s note: Broomfield faith leaders will be sharing their insights regularly in an “On Faith” column that will run in the Thursday Enterprise.
The average tenure of a faith leader in a Christian community is less than five years. One reason may be that after that length of time, conversations become harder as relationships grow deeper. Textbooks answers have been exhausted and a seminary education has run its course. Now, I spend more time exploring fundamental concerns of what it means to be fully human and live faithfully.
For instance, a recurring conversation centers around the mystery of connection and belonging. We’re wrestling with questions like: with more communication tools available than ever before, why do we feel so disconnected from each other? How do we build community in a world where we eat in our cars more than in our homes? Why are we spending more time interacting on social media than in person? How can we support one another besides liking a post or donating money?
Underneath all of these important questions lies a deep longing for real relationships. A desire to know and be known, to love and be loved, as we truly are. So many factors can get in the way: FOMO (fear of missing out) can make us overcommit; economic realities can keep us burning the candle at both ends; a culture that values busy-ness and rewards productivity makes it easy to overwork. The irony is that many pursuits emerge from our desire to connect and belong, yet their practice often leaves us unsatisfied.
I find myself spending more time reminding people, myself included, that God created us to be human beings, not human doings. That God made us in love, and for love. That our deepest longings to know and be known, to love and be loved, is at the core of what it means to be human. We need to be reminded of this fundamental truth again and again. And, we need a place to practice.
Goodness knows a faith community can be a place where FOMO, economic realities and a culture of busy-ness can run unchecked. But at their best, faith communities exist to proclaim that God created human beings in love and for love. When we take the time to gather and remember who we are and to whom we belong, we practice an alternative culture where real connection can thrive. Practicing real relationships can be hard, messy work, but so worth it.
If you haven’t visited a faith community in a while, and you find yourself longing for a place of true belonging, consider this an invitation. Broomfield has more than fifty active faith communities that span multiple traditions. There is an ancient Indian fable of blind men and an elephant: each touches a part of the animal so their experience and description is different, yet all of them together appreciate the magnitude of the whole. So it is with human experiences of God.
No one can grasp the whole, but each tradition touches some sense of the divine mystery. To live faithfully, to be a full human being, we need each other.
The Rev. Kim Seidman is rector of Holy Comforter Episcopal Church