Like many of you, I live in the suburbs. Okay ... it's not technically a suburb, but it feels like one. It's a nice little neighborhood about a mile away from our church with the closest Wal-Mart and McDonald's just down the road. We're in an ideal location. And like many of you we got a nice fenced-in backyard, complete with a swingset for our kids and a gas grill for me to cook hamburgers and hotdogs. If we're not hangin' out there, on many nights you'll find us sitting on the front porch watching our kids ride their bikes and do side-walk chalk. All that to say, we like where we live. We're comfortable; we got a good life. Which is why I was so intrigued when I came across a book called, Death by Suburb: How to Keep the Suburbs from Killing Your Soul. The title grabbed me. And so I bought the book. I'm only on the third chapter so far, but a few quotes have already hit home. Here's one:
A friend with a special needs child (and five other kids as well) recently said to me that he thought one spiritual issue of our community (which has a median household income of $75,000 -- about the same as my community!) is how hard we work at appearing not to have any issues.
The sad thing, he says, is that you wind up with a bunch of folks who appear to have it all, but are miserable. They're trapped in the attractive veneer of being 'perfect people.' That, by its very nature, negates the transparency to form a deeper bond with a human being.
Wow. I resonate with that big time. If you're like me you want people to think you're a great father with obedient kids; a loving husband who cherishes his wife; and a respected pastor who leads well. It's like this built in pressure to perform (and get your kids to perform) so that others would think more highly of you. But in reality, I fail. I need help. And so do you. It doesn't matter how much money we make, what position we hold, or how many A's our kids get on their report cards, we're all in need of grace. And so we need to cultivate environments of grace where we can be transparent with each other and admit our struggles. In doing so we will begin to put to death the greatest barrier to doing life together, namely, pride. Indeed, if pride can be put to death, by cross-centered community and humility, than perhaps life can exist even in the suburbs.