Day 63-11- Bowling Alone… The Importance of Community!

Yup… as in 9 weeks down! But we talked about patience yesterday, so we’re all good… right? Today’s picture was taken last December of Justus with his little sister and cousin. I picked it for a couple of reasons. The first because it gives another little insight to Justus’ personality – his little sister and cousin love him (and miss him). The other reason is it was taken the last time we went bowling as a family until last night. Because of these last 9 weeks, a lot of relationships have been temporarily put on hold or at the very least modified, to include the one with our younger kids (ages 13 – 16). They are old enough to have a sense of what is going on, but everything you read cautions you that when you have a sick child, it’s important to continue working on your relationships with the other children. So last night, we used a Groupon, to take our four youngest kids bowling. Only, our older adult kids found out and guess who also jumped in our van?!?! We had a ton of fun and I think it accomplished the objective of being together.

But it made me think of a book I came across a few years ago called, “Bowling Alone.” The title of the book was based on a simple but concerning trend in our culture. According to the book, there are more people bowling today than ever before, however there are fewer leagues and people bowling together than ever before. Hence the title, “Bowling Alone.” I won’t go into the point of the whole book ,but it’s a fun read if you’re interested in things like social health and the affect of relationships on a community. Here’s the point I want to make, according to the book, as a culture we aren’t as healthy socially and in our relationships, and it has a negative affect on everything. In fact, they’ve connected a host of positive and negative outcomes in schools and crime statistically to this idea of social health.

Which brings me back to #TeamJustus. We know a big part of our surviving the eye of the storm like we did, had to do with our social health. I don’t have the tools or the smarts to come up with a social index or proof of that statement. All I know is being connected on multiple levels and in a variety of ways to different people that knew us and cared about us, had profound effects on our ability to handle what was coming at us.

By now you’re probably thinking, “David, not even you can bring this all together to make sense.” But actually, this all makes great sense. One of the messages we’ve tried to hit hard as we’ve talked about this storm is helping other families prepare for and handle crisis that we know will eventually hit them in the future. We’ve watched a lot of families over these past several weeks deal with calamity. Please hear me on this; crisis is hard for everyone. And families, when hit by a storm, have to do what they can just to survive. We don’t know all the dynamics facing these families we watched and the last thing we want to do is to some how pass judgment on what they were doing to get through their storm. But, one of the consistent threads we’ve seen, is the families with the most support around them, seemed to weather things the best.

On the one hand, that may seem like an obvious statement. But when you put it together with “Bowling Alone” you can see that culturally we are moving away from the very thing that helps families when tough times hit. I’ve said this before but it’s worth repeating; God created us for relationship…. relationship with Him, relationship with our family… and relationship with other people. I want to encourage you to be intentional about those relationships in your life; starting with God, then your family, and then the other people you cross paths with. Honestly, I don’t know what we would have done without the community that came around us when Justus got really sick.

I realize I may be preaching to the choir right now. But if you are wondering, where do I start with building a community like that, the obvious place to begin is with discovering what it means to have a relationship with God. We’ve talked about how big and awesome and amazing He is. But if you don’t know what it looks like to have a personal relationship with God then find out. If you need help with that, message me. My guess is most of you have someone in your life that you know has been praying for you. Call them! Ask them out to coffee and let them share with you their story.

I would also encourage you to do whatever you have to do to strengthen those relationships in your family. Don’t wait until a crisis to realize something’s broken. And finally, if you don’t know where to find community outside of your family, I would suggest the same place we found it – the church. When Justus got sick, after our family, the first people to call us and come to our side were members of our church community (family). No, I don’t think you have to go to church in order to go to heaven. But I do think, living a faithful life on earth is a whole lot harder without a church family. I know I’m not strong enough to go this life alone. I’m so thankful for spiritual brothers and sisters that have prayed for us and supported us. By the way, we certainly include all of you in that description of community that came around us. I don’t have to think that far back to remember those nights waking up to read prayers and comments of encouragement and support for our little ninja. So thank-you for being there for us. We certainly hope to be there for you!

The update on Justus is continued improvement. He only has 2 days left of his Ativan wean and he isn’t having any withdrawal issues. He stayed clear again all day today. One of the highlights was his sister Amaya (who loves music almost as much as Justus) went with him to music therapy. Apparently it was a blast and once again the musicians were incredible with Justus! I don’t know how long it will be before we get to take Justus bowling again. What I do know is when he does finally goe, he won’t be bowling alone. My encouragement to you is simply this… do the things you need to do, so that you never have to bowl alone! God bless you #TeamJustus. We love you.