In the last week our family has had a handful of family or friends gatherings that we have been invited to and each one has been enjoyable for all involved. Quite often these days the gatherings are birthday parties for relatives and close friends. When you have smaller children, and in the case of my family and many of my friends an increasing number of smaller children, you are invited to lots of birthday parties. It’s funny how kids are perceived to rob you of a social life, but with all the reproduction in my circle of family and friends I feel I’m with friends more than I have been since I was living on campus in college. Thankfully the conversations have matured, as well as the bedtimes, (except for my brother and sister in law who still stay up pretty late. Of course this may not be fair because I tend to eat dinner around the time the senior citizens discount starts). Although my calendar can stay quite full, I am thankful that most of the things on my calendar are events that involve being with people I love to often do nothing more than share meal, a few stories about our lives and laugh a lot while our kids play and laugh loudly.
For me to have the good life, I need these times with the people in my life. I don’t think I need it to the level that I did before children or when I was a teenager or in my early twenties because I was filled with much immaturity and unneeded pressures that I had placed on myself. Those years shaped the desires that I have today for friendships with depth and joy. Now being with friends and family is mostly relaxing. It’s a time for me to enjoy the world at its most basic level, which is life with other people while resting from our callings and responsibilities. In other words, my gatherings with friends and family in someone’s home has become going to the pub for me, expect its much quieter and cleaner. For the church going types reading this, these events for me serve as a weekly small group. We meet often to have casual conversation that generally involves the serious and the not so serious. It’s a time to be honest, to let your guard down and most of all enjoy God’s gift of friendship and fellowship.
Gatherings don’t just add to life’s goodness, but are at the heart of the good life. Most everything a human does involves and effects other people, directly or indirectly. We are social beings and creatures because our Creator is a God that is one and three. He enjoys the company of others and depends upon others for Him to be who He is. So to with humanity. We depend upon others not only for formation, but for the quality and the goodness of our lives. Our lives are often measured upon friendships and family relationships. We move to and from places based on others, either to be around people or to flee from them. No matter how you spin it, you are a social creature that is dependent on other people. In other words, you need kids birthday parties and dinner gatherings with friends to live the good life. You need time with others and they need time with you, so go to the birthday parties, accept the dinner invites and relax a little bit when you show up. We need to fill our lives with good things, not merely good things that make us better people. People are good things and time with people is good. For myself, it is easy for me to depend on my studies, writing and ministry as the tools that give me maturity and the good life. I can believe I am maturing based on what I’m learning and reading, when in reality, the greatest thing in my life that shapes me are the people nearest me. Outside of the Holy Spirit, Brittany, Reid, Grace, Sam, my extended family, friends and church have more to say about my maturity than anything or anyone else.
So if they are the tools that shape me, then those gatherings are really important and they need to be frequent because tools can get dull quick. So can a man who sits home every night watching television alone, or lives for his kids bedtime so he can do his own thing by himself. I need the sharpening effect of being with others. I need the joy of being with others. Simply, I need time with others. My calendar gets full, but I don’t think I’d have it any other way. Thanks Mayfield’s for having us over recently for a fantastic meal. Thanks Logan’s and Ferguson’s for the late nights. Happy birthday Harper and Emery. Thanks Mom for having the family over and cooking us dinner so many times. Thanks Brittany for the meals and laughs almost every night. Thanks Reid, Grace and Sam for baseball and reading time. Thanks Emmanuel for the monthly cookouts. Thanks to Starbucks for all the coffee you’ve supplied Richard and I. This is what makes my life happy and blessed. These are the good and perfect gifts that come down from the Father of lights.