I hope you’ve had a great week. I have. My youngest son is a devoted, even rabid, Bucs fan. The boys and I were quarantining in Florida when Brady signed with the Bucs last spring and big brothers stoked the Super Bowl fire that day and many days since. Sam watched each week, hopeful but also a nervous wreck. I wonder if God let that game be uninteresting just for Sam. His pacing in front of the TV subsided after the first quarter and he just enjoyed the inevitable. And I mean the guy is the GOAT. On Monday I read about how much water he drinks and was inspired to guzzle all day long. I guess maybe he did a different kind of guzzling Wednesday at the boat parade, but I’m really into grace in a world that seems to have forgotten it. It’s not like the GOAT was driving, you know like the Boss.
Another great thing that happened this week is the cat lawyer video. I saw it posted numerous times on Tuesday and thought to myself, “Not into cats, not clicking.” But finally someone said it was as funny the 20th time as the first and I took the bait. Unfortunately I was in bed with my sleeping husband, and my efforts to muffle my big laugh were not successful. I was DYING. It is truly one of the funniest things I have ever seen. My sweet man, who was so rudely disturbed, found it just as funny as I did, fortunately.
Shared experiences — and personally I’d choose big laughs over big NFL wins — are important for relationships to flourish. The ubiquitous calls for unity mostly strike me as empty. The modern use of “unity” is a nebulous concept without real-world application. But you know how you can love your neighbor? Spend time with them, laugh with them, make some kind of unique memory with them. You don’t need to talk about unity. In fact, until you know someone really well why broach politics or faith? Just ask questions about their life and listen to what their joys and struggles are. I don’t get how politics bleeds into everything on a macro scale because it definitely doesn’t on a micro level. Maybe that’s the point. Social media implies life is lived in a sphere it’s not. That’s not life, that’s carefully curated clips that are often edited so profoundly that they bear little resemblance to actual life.
I’m intentionally talking out of both sides of my mouth here. Yes, our shared experiences are bonding, even when they are as far reaching as the Super Bowl and the cat lawyer, but that concept is infinitely more important for your in-the-flesh relationships. We can hold in tension that we need shared experiences as a society to have any commonality, and yet know that passive experiences like watching something cannot be the sole basis for our deeper personal relationships. God can love the whole world, and does. But we don’t have that capacity. We are called to love our neighbors — real, in-the-flesh people. And we are called to love them not with words — even words like unity — but by our actions. My dad instilled in me that “talk is cheap” and I often remind my own sons of this vital truth. Of course, the Bible says it best: “Little children, let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.” (1 John 3:18-20).
As Americans, as neighbors, as Christ-followers, as human beings, may we love those around us in deed and truth.