The Reality of Interdependency in an Age of Social Distancing
By Rev. Dr. Kimberly Reisman
A significant aspect of the Embrace understanding of showing and sharing the love of Jesus is the idea of interdependency – the idea that human beings flourish in the context of relationships with others. Rather than focusing solely on our independence, to truly thrive, we must recognize that we are interdependent – both separate and connected to those around us.
This interwoven nature of being human stems from the very first moments of creation. From the very beginning God has been about the process of separating and joining. Genesis tells us that God separated the light from the darkness and joined all the waters together in one place so that dry land could appear. Like God’s original creative process, the process of human spiritual and emotional growth is one of separating and joining. As we grow into adulthood, we separate in all kinds of ways, forming healthy boundaries and asserting our unique identities. We also join in all kinds of ways, connecting with others for continued nurture, joy and love.
For a variety of reasons, these days it seems our interdependence has been disrupted. Instead of a healthy balance between separating and joining, the ongoing pandemic and the continued global unrest have imposed a deep, yet artificial separation. COVID19 has forced us to socially distance. Once common greetings like handshakes and hugs are just not done. The global reckoning with the sin of systemic racism and the politics that surround it has drawn sharp lines in the sand between us. Civil conversations have become more and more difficult.
And yet we are profoundly social beings. Whether we realize it, or are willing to admit it, or not, we need one another. We need connection.
A significant part of spiritual maturity is recognizing the importance of interdependency and connection. As we grow in our faith, we look to others to guide us – those who may be a step or two ahead of us on the spiritual journey. In the same way, as we mature in our faith, we realize that we are the ones who are now a step or two ahead, so we find ways to offer a hand to those who are following behind us.
In these difficult days of artificial separation and false divides, recognizing our interdependency is more important than ever. Our world needs spiritually mature people who reach out to those who are struggling – people who can overcome the challenge of social distancing to make connections and offer nurture and support to others. The world needs to see spiritually mature people living in ways that make it clear that following Jesus transcends the false divide of party politics and societal polarizations.
In all times and places, but especially now, as we follow Jesus, a couple of questions need to be at the forefront of our minds – who is looking to me in these moments? Who am I encountering on a regular basis that needs of a word of hope or clarity? How can I make that connection?
God has created us as interconnected, interdependent, human beings. My prayer as we continue to navigate the challenges of 2020, is that we would realize that truth. And even more importantly, that the Holy Spirit would empower us to actively live out that truth.