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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Goin' It Alone

Is it just me or do we Americans seem to have a major obession with self sufficiency? What is with our unwillingness or inability to ask for or accept help? There has been a lot of discussion in our small group around this topic lately and it's really gotten me to thinking... I wonder if this desire to be self sufficient is one of the major road blocks to living the "crazy" lifestyle.

Having less stuff and seeking to spend less money does dictate that you are probably going to have to reach out to others for help, or even just to borrow something from time to time. We Americans are kind of weird about that type of thing. For us, becoming a one-car family has required us, on a number of occasions, to reach out to friends for rides. In some situations we have simply had no other choice but to ask for help. And we make that sound like a shameful thing, but it has really been a good thing.

We have never had anyone unwilling to help and in fact, several of our friends have gone to great lengths and inconvenience to themselves in order to help us out. It's never been a problem for the helpers... so why the issue with asking?

Those times that we've needed and received help have worked out in really neat ways. Dan recently caught a ride with a friend to a meeting on the other side of town (in Atlanta the other side of town = not a scooter length ride) and the car ride gave the two men a chance to talk and catch up on Dan's recent trip to Uganda. I've reached out to a number of my mommy friends to arrange rides for the kids -- and I know that by asking these sweet ladies for help, I've made them feel comfortable to ask me for help should they find themselves in need (or should they find their husbands driving scooters...). A little dependence on one another can really draw you closer to people.

And this idea is not just for scooter-drivers. Recently, we took a family trip and while packing our stuff, realized that there was absolutely no way that all 5 of us, plus all our junk, plus all the baby stuff were fitting into one car. A brief pause to let that reality sink in completely... Our first reaction was to do that thing we usually do and just go out to the store and buy a luggage carrier for the top of the car. Self sufficiency, right? We can handle this! Well, several stores and a couple hours later, Dan returns home empty handed and announces that we are not buying a car carrier, they're way too expensive. And immediately the idea pops into my head... why not borrow one? Hello, what a crazy idea!! I shot off an email to a couple of friends and in less than an hour had several offers for luggage carriers. We saved $500 and, while loading the thing up on our car, Dan spent time and shared some laughs with another Dad from our daughter's school who he'd never met before.

One last thought on all this...

Just a few blocks outside of my neighborhood is a somewhat run-down apartment complex inhabited (pretty much 100% from what I can tell) by members of the hispanic community. I probably drive by the place 5 or 6 times a day. Every time I go by I feel a little sorry for the people who live there. Because of my mentality and the house, yard and space I'm accustomed to, it makes me feel sad to think of families living right on top of each other in little cramped apartments with a tiny bit of green space that all the kids in the community have to share. But the more I think about it, I'm starting to wonder if those people might feel sorry for me. They could come a few blocks down the road, take a look around my neighborhood and think -- "wow, how sad. Look at all those closed garage doors, those kids playing alone on their fancy swing sets (or inside on their video games). Look at those two adults checking their mail at the same time -- they don't speak because they don't even know each other's first names. How sad to live in a community that is really not a community at all."

We could all use a little more of one another and perhaps that would spur us on to make some crazier life choices. We'd love to hear your thoughts on building community and sharing resources. Email us or comment below and pass on some ideas!


Nancy said...

I have chills reading this post that I might have written almost word for word. (Well, the whole part about community.) AMEN, sister! We are the sad ones! We actually know our 4 immediate neighbors and I think we're probably the social ones of our neighborhood trying to meet people. I do feel sorry for us. Why does every single house on a street have to have its OWN lawnmower, when it's used 2-3 hours/week? Why do we all need our own set of fancy tools. Not hammers, screwdrivers, but power tools which take up space and lots of money. Couldn't we share more? Wouldn't it be a blessing for us, like you were referring to.... Goodness, I feel so passionate about this, but it just doesn't seem like there are a whole lot of us who feel this way. I don't know, though.

Melissa said...

This is so true and it seems a little scary to depend on others. I would love to live more in community with each other. I love the insight God is showing you about our culture, very challenging and encouraging too. Your right, it is us that they should feel sorrow for. Great perspective! Love reading your blog!

katie dugdale said...

We have learned quite a bit about depending on each other in the past few years. Because the hubby is in seminary and I am home with the kids, we have had to reach out and ask for help quite a bit. I have struggled with this because giving to others is a biblical mandate...it seems noble and fulfilling. Search as I may, I just can't seem to find anywhere in the Bible that talks about being a gracious receiver! We have had to learn to humble ourselves and let our needs be known. We have had to get over ourselves and accept help when it is offered. These last few years have been a testimony of God's provision and brotherly love. We have stories month after month of unexpected gifts and blessings... Hand me downs for the kids, a new (to us) minivan after ours was totaled... and much, much more. We simply could not survive on our own.

With that said... Thanks for being crazy! Thanks for sharing your heart.