But there is a boundary with “need.” It’s not an unlimited check. Unlimited checks can be abused.
“We need each other” is a phrase that I have heard over the years and I think there is a great deal of truth in it. It speaks to a few things like the incompleteness of individualism. It speaks to the importance of community. These aren’t just small items either. They have larger consequences that so many people miss and disconnect. It is shocking how someone can say “we need each other” and in the next breath completely dismiss systemic abuses as non-existent. How can you recognize the interconnectedness of people in one breath and then dismiss it in the next? Because you don’t like the issue? Because it becomes inconvenient? Because of the consequence? Because of how big is might become? Because of how it might impact you?
“We need each other.” Do you know what this starts with? Trust. This is the essential element and building block. I’m willing to argue that without it, nothing else matters. How can you build community and relationship without trust?
What exactly do we need each other for is the real question. For our survival and for thriving. The statement is a recognition that going it alone just won’t work. That rugged individualism might work, but is really, really hard and that there is an easier way – by going together. This isn’t new though. Humanity has been grouping together for thousands of years because it’s allowed humans to survive and thrive much easier.
And now that we are further “advanced” than just survival, what do we need from each other? I still think we need trust. But boy is that difficult. Especially when we don’t speak in direct language with each other enough. When we hold back what we are feeling and thinking. When we often don’t know how to express what’s going on inside of us.
We need each other to trust that what the other person is experiencing or has experienced in community and society is true. And we need people to feel that they can share the truth. Which comes first is the question. We need to trust when people experience abuse and trauma and other terrible things, even if we don’t ourselves experience them – even if we don’t ever experience them. Just because we don’t ourselves experience them, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. We aren’t the standard by which everything else is to be judged after all. We are just one person. Other have different experiences. We need to trust others.
Likewise, we need to trust when people express their fears and angers over society moving fast with changes. Not that we should stop and allow those expressions to dictate the speed at which change happens, but so that we can hear the fears that people are experiencing and address those fears – they are experiencing them. Their world is being rocked. They are suffering a loss. They don’t know how to mourn that loss. They feel like they are loosing control. All they know if going away. We talk about privilege being something that someone didn’t earn, yet, are we showing grace to people who have their privilege ripped away as if they did something to earn it? Why do we need to do this?
None of this is easy. There isn’t a script. There isn’t a checklist. There isn’t a nice easy path. It’s messy.
The church is supposed to be something different – a community based on trust. And yet, it’s made up of people. People who live in the world. That starts with communication and actually talking about the things we are talking about directly.
What I’ve come to learn is that talking about things directly is not a common thing. That’s really unfortunate. And unhealthy. We have a theological term for talking about things directly. It’s called being prophetic. Maybe that’s not what you think of when you think about being prophetic. But the prophets really were about talking about issues directly when they spoke. There was no passive aggressive language. There was no code language. There was no distraction away from the discussion. There was no avoiding the confrontation because “well, you know…” There was no “it’s not polite to talk about…” There was none of that. Prophets talked about the issue at hand because it needed to be talked about. Because that’s what trust is about.
There can be no trust when there is a code of silence. There can be no trust when there is avoidance of communication. There can be no trust when there is avoidance of conflict. There can be no trust when there is code language. There can be no trust when there is passive aggressive language. There can be no trust when we avoid dealing with the issue directly. And when there is no trust, the foundation of community is on shaky ground and it will fall. Relationships can not stand long term. How can there be liberation? How can there be salvation? How can there be authentic worship of God when we can’t trust one another and be vulnerable with one another? How can we care for one another? How can we serve? How can we build up the body of Christ if we don’t trust the other parts of the body?
In a trust system there is no covering up, no using code language, no using passive agressive language, or scapegoating, or misdirection, or spin, or all the things that humanity has perfected through various means like politics, and partisanship to avoid talking about the issue at hand in order to have power plays and fights over power.
No, the church is supposed to be different because we have Jesus and the Good News. So we start with a foundation of trust. If we don’t have trust, we don’t have anything. It doesn’t matter how right we are. If we don’t have trust in our community, then we don’t have anything.
We need each other. We need each other to be honest. And that’s about being vulnerable. That’s about being direct. That’s about letting your yes be yes and your no be no. That’s about being able to rely on each other for who we are.