Garage door openers are great. With the push of the button, I drive my car out of the blazing sun, away from the freezing cold and into the sanctuary of my garage. Just steps away is the comfort of my climate controlled home. No scraping windows for me in the winter or red hot upholstery seats in the summer. My garage door opener helps to keep me tucked nicely away from any unpleasantness. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered that it also keeps me tucked away from pleasant things like people. Tucked inside my garage I miss the casual interaction with my neighbors. Life, these days, seems to be designed so isolation comes easy; and interactions require special effort.
This newly designed isolated life is not just the result of garage door openers. What about clothes lines? Remember hanging the sheets out on the line and chatting with your neighbor? And somebody has moved all the front porches. Instead of hanging out after supper on the porch with everyone else in the neighborhood, we now adjourn to the back deck. And maybe your deck has been designed with privacy fences and hedges to keep contact with others to a minimum. I suppose I sound a bit outdated. After all, if you want to make friends, you can easily get on your cell phone, lap top or IPod and connect with just about anyone you want. But it seems our hectic lives are designed to decrease casual contacts with friends and increase isolation. Have we craved privacy, safety and convenience so much that we’ve created an invisible wall of isolation?
The early Christians had a different idea. In Acts 2:46 it says the early Church continued “daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” This doesn’t sound like isolation to me; this sounds like community. And I don’t mean just on Sundays. These folks saw each other everyday. It seems today there’s an unspoken rule that we should be independent and stand on our own two feet. But I think God placed something deep inside of each of us that hungers to reach out and share our lives with others.
Every once in a while, you’ll see people breaking this independence rule. There’s moms talking at the kids bus stop long after the bus has gone. Men bumping into friends at the grocery store and catching up on what’s going on. We need friends. Studies show that regardless of family relationships, people with more friends lived 22% longer than people with fewer friends. Friends are good for your health.
In case you’re concerned, I’m not suggesting we all throw away our garage door openers. We received 6 inches of snow yesterday and I am definitely keeping mine. But examine the flow of your life. Does your lifestyle help you maintain connections or isolation? Friends can help you stay healthy, happy and wise. Don’t close the garage door on them.