Most of us grew up in a family or with a group of people who were responsible for being sure that we grew up safe and sound with most...if not all...of what we needed. The point being that we did grow up with other people around...people we influence and who influenced us...people we learned to get along with...or didn't...people who sometimes hurt us or people that we sometimes hurt. Negotiating time and space and resources with other people is very tricky if nothing else. If we were lucky, we learned how to make our needs known...in a way that would almost always get us what we wanted. And if we were even luckier, we learned what to do if our feelings were hurt or if we were angry or if we were frightened. If we lived in a safe environment, we learned some social skills. We learned that we weren't supposed to hit anyone or physically harm them. We learned that it was never a good idea to lash out verbally. Words can hurt just as much as physical blows. We learned to take turns and to share. We learned how to settle disagreements in a way that didn't leave anyone damaged...physically or emotionally. And if we didn't learn these skills growing up, we may have learned them in the larger world. If we didn't, navigating the larger world could become not only dangerous, but painful and enigmatic. Sometimes we could be mystified by how people behaved or how they reacted to others. And almost all of us ran into the poor soul who could scatter a crowd in a heartbeat or stir up so much angst in a group that he/she became a scapegoat and an outcast. So if we didn't learn those cooperation skills in growing up or in young adulthood (by trial and error) where might we learn them? The church is a great place to start, because Jesus is the one who taught us all the rules we need to know and the church is a laboratory for practicing those skills. Living in unity doesn't mean that everyone agrees. It means that all of them focus on the same thing, all of them respect one another, all of them work out their differences in ways that require quite a bit of skill in negotiating and an enormous respect for one another with the common goal before them. And in the church, all eyes are focused on the Trinity. What a great prize for our eyes...and our souls!!!
Rev. Liz Tomlinson