Most of the time, our lives follow a familiar pattern. We rise and go about the business of our daily tasks. Many of those tasks are automatic. Some are strenuous. Others are stressful. At the end of each day, we each consider different measures to determine whether our day has been successful, fulfilling, profitable, or of faithful service to others.
Sooner or later, we also experience moments that upend the predictability of our days. News of a difficult diagnosis, the loss of employment, a child in crisis, or the prospect of a divorce can leave us questioning everything in which we previously felt secure. It would be foolish, however, to suggest that we don’t need one another, as if we could somehow insulate ourselves from life’s challenges by merely becoming more independent.
The reality of life is that we are deeply dependent upon others. Yet, such dependence is frightening to us because it reminds us of our vulnerability to disappointment and heartbreak. Paradoxically, the answer to protecting ourselves from the overwhelming nature of our pain is not to remove ourselves from relationship but to seek deeper connection with others. With God. With family. With friends. With neighbors. Let us never forget that our best friends were once strangers and that, to most people that we meet, we are strangers too.