Recently, a discipleship group that I belong to was discussing mentorship. A friend explained that while he understood and felt comfortable pursuing that type of relationship at work, he had no clue what that was supposed to look like within the church. This started me thinking about the numerous experiences I have had of mentoring others and being mentored. Most of these relationships took place in the midst of real life versus over a meal or coffee at a fixed time on the calendar each week or month. It was not formal. It was simply what I call, “Doing life together.”
I want to propose that everyone is in need of doing real life together but few know what that looks like.
I think a great starting place comes in answering the following questions:
- In what season of life are you currently?
- What are all the things that take up your day?
- In what seasons of life are the people within your sphere of influence?
- What are the things that take up their day?
- What are the needs, yours and theirs?
- In what everyday contexts is it possible for you to include another person, people, or family?
- In what everyday contexts is it possible for you to include yourself into the lives of another person, people, or family?
Take the answers to the above questions, stir them all together, and that is the recipe for doing life together, albeit a tad simplistic.
Family, find a college student who may not have family nearby, and invite her over for lunch on Sunday afternoons. Tell her to bring her laundry. No need to clean especially for her visit. Allow her the privilege of seeing what real life looks like and sounds like in your home. She may be desperate for some family time. No need to plan an elaborate meal or have deep conversations, though that is great when it happens. Have her help you peel the carrots for the meal or clear off the table with your kids and see what kind of conversation happens just by doing life together.
Single friend, don’t think you have to wait to be invited into a family’s home before you are invited into their life. Offer to bring a meal for a mom one week night and ask to join them. Order take out if you can’t or don’t like to cook or have time; they probably won’t mind. See if you can help with Saturday chores once a month. Or find out if your gym schedules might line up, and initiate working out together once a week.
Families, invite another family on a hike, to a week night dinner of nothing special, or to catch your favorite weekly show with you.
Retired couple, consider reaching out to a growing family. Meet them in their everyday, and consider how you might invite them into your everyday. Or make it super special, and have them take a vacation with you sometime. Even on vacation, there will be mundane moments where you will have the blessed opportunity to see each other in your “realness,” your fallen-ness, the cracked vessels that you are. You will also see shades of grace in the ordinary living out of life that you may not get to see if you neglect to invite each other in.
Whatever you are busy with, include someone in on it.
Don’t assume people are already connected.
Don’t assume people are too busy.
Don’t assume you are too busy.
Don’t assume you have nothing to offer.
Don’t assume you have nothing to gain.
When we are allowed into each other’s space, to simply breathe the same air, we are given the privilege to know each other and be known. This is what we were created for!
We need to be WITH each other in order to observe one another doing real life. We need to see and hear the interactions between other spouses, parents, and/or children. We need to be with each other to be sharpened, to receive different perspectives, and to be encouraged. There are ways in which God wants to form our character that cannot happen living life in isolation or in carefully constructed contexts only.
When we are in each other’s everyday life, we also become more attuned to needs the other may have — needs that may not be perceived as important enough to put on the prayer chain or maybe feel too big to ask for assistance.
Doing life together doesn’t have to be complicated or contrived. It can happen with just a little bit of thought about who you could include in the mundane moments of your life. Invite the same someone(s) consistently for a devoted amount of time, and find out for yourself that doing life together makes doing life better.