「想念」大流行:關心我們想念的人──THE ‘MISSING’ PANDEMIC: MISSING PEOPLE WE CARE ABOUT

MONDAY MANNA

在新冠肺炎大流行期間,待在家裡好像很明智,但我覺得就在前面幾個月我便老了許多。我並沒有吃太多東西或看太多電視,也不是因為我甚麼也沒做,我倒可以專心做我一直想做的事。而是因為我很想念人們-想在他們身旁,看著他們,與他們互動。

我想念和朋友一起喝咖啡、共進午餐或聽音樂,而且我特別想念我生活周遭的年輕人們。我和妻子參加了一個千人的大教會,其中大多數是年輕人。我和妻子是那裡最老的夫妻之一。有時,即便會有年長者來,但在一般會眾當中,我們可以說是最年長的。這意味著會有很多孩子和青少年到處亂跑,並且有很吵的、活力四射的音樂在我們四周。

其中,我最想念的是在教會大廳的那種能量:和人們交談,開開心心問候一週沒見的人,我就會感到這週被重新充飽電。我不會試圖記住孩子們的名字;我只是喜歡看著各樣進行中的活動,比如年輕父母會試著讓幼小孩童不致失控。基本上,我想念定期和人們進行「面對面」的互動。

有研究說人們會變成五個朋友的綜合體-會像那些我們花最多時間在一起的人。如果我們和聰明的人在一起,他們就會挑戰我們多閱讀和受良好的教育,我們自然也會如此做。如果我們的朋友是運動員,我們就會成為更好的運動員。如果我們的朋友很傲慢自大,或是懶惰邋遢,那麼我們就會開始學他們的模樣。因此,我們建立的友誼,對我們成為甚麼樣的人,有很大的影響。

勵志演講者查理"巨大"瓊斯"Charlie“ Tremendous” Jones經常說,除非我們讀不一樣的書和與不同的人交往那麼我們五年之後,將會和現在一樣。聖經,如我們所預期,談到了我們與他人關係的重要性。以下是幾個例子:

我們是為了關係而創造的。從一開始,上帝就希望與祂所創造的人享受美好關係,同時也注意到要我們和其他人有健康的關係。「耶和華 神說:「那人獨居不好,我要為他造一個配偶幫助他。」(創世記2章18節)。

孤獨是一種可怕的痛苦。與人相處能讓我們受到激勵,反之缺乏互動就會使人失去力量。「有人孤單無二,無子無兄,竟勞碌不息,眼目也不以錢財為足。他說:「我勞勞碌碌,刻苦自己,不享福樂,到底是為誰呢?」這也是虛空,是極重的勞苦。」(傳道書4章8節)。

與人在一起會帶來很多益處。能夠與人連結不僅僅是消除孤獨感而已。「兩個人總比一個人好,因為二人勞碌同得美好的果效。若是跌倒,這人可以扶起他的同伴;若是孤身跌倒,沒有別人扶起他來,這人就有禍了。再者,二人同睡就都暖和,一人獨睡怎能暖和呢? 有人攻勝孤身一人,若有二人便能敵擋他;三股合成的繩子不容易折斷。」(傳道書4章9-12節)。

期待在未來的幾個月,我們能夠恢復和老朋友相處,甚至結交新朋友,做些新鮮有趣的活動,並養成全新積極的習慣,我們有絕佳的機會去尋找生活的「新常態」。請記住,與我們在一起時間最多的人,會影響我們是誰以及我們將成為什麼樣的人。因此,請做明智的抉擇。(例如:請多參加CBMC聚會-總會附註)

©2021 JimMathis是堪薩斯州歐弗蘭帕克的作家,攝影師和企業主。他的最新著作是《駱駝和針The Camel and the Needle》,《基督徒看財富和金錢A Christian Looks at Wealth and Money》。他曾任堪薩斯州堪薩斯城和密蘇里州堪薩斯城的CBMC咖啡店經理和執行理事。

反省與討論問題

  1. 新冠肺炎大流行的限制(保持社交距離、強制居家隔離,在家工作)如何影響你的生活,特別是在你日常的人際關係上面?
  2. 你是否發現減少或缺乏正常的社交互動,會對你的心理、情感甚至精神上產生負面的影響嗎?請解釋你的答案。
  3. 防疫期間,在社交關係上你最想念的一件事是什麼?你是否仍然保持工作效率,還是因為與他人互動和合作的機會受限而導致工作效率下降?
  4. 你覺得自己是一個外向、因人群而熱情興奮的人;或者是一個內向的人,即使不與他人互動也能過得很好?這會影響你因疫情而產生的各項限制,而有所不同反應嗎?

備註:如果你有聖經,想閱讀更多相關的經文,請參考(因經文篇幅較長,請參閱未列出的經文箴言27:17哥林多前書12:21-26)

羅馬書12章3-5節
12:3 我憑著所賜我的恩對你們各人說:不要看自己過於所當看的;要照著 神所分給各人信心的大小,看得合乎中道。
12:4 正如我們一個身子上有好些肢體,肢體也不都是一樣的用處。
12:5 我們這許多人,在基督裏成為一身,互相聯絡作肢體,也是如此。
哥林多前書12章12-20節
12:12 就如身子是一個,卻有許多肢體;而且肢體雖多,仍是一個身子;基督也是這樣。
12:13 我們不拘是猶太人,是希臘人,是為奴的,是自主的,都從一位聖靈受洗,成了一個身體,飲於一位聖靈。
12:14 身子原不是一個肢體,乃是許多肢體。
12:15 設若腳說:「我不是手,所以不屬乎身子,」它不能因此就不屬乎身子。
12:16 設若耳說:「我不是眼,所以不屬乎身子,」它不能因此就不屬乎身子。
12:17 若全身是眼,從哪裏聽聲呢?若全身是耳,從哪裏聞味呢?
12:18 但如今, 神隨自己的意思把肢體俱各安排在身上了。
12:19 若都是一個肢體,身子在哪裏呢?
12:20 但如今肢體是多的,身子卻是一個。
哥林多後書6章14-17節
6:14 你們和不信的原不相配,不要同負一軛。義和不義有甚麼相交呢?光明和黑暗有甚麼相通呢?
6:15 基督和彼列(彼列就是撒但的別名)有甚麼相和呢?信主的和不信主的有甚麼相干呢?
6:16  神的殿和偶像有甚麼相同呢?因為我們是永生 神的殿,就如 神曾說:我要在他們中間居住,在他們中間來往;我要作他們的 神;他們要作我的子民。
6:17 又說:你們務要從他們中間出來,與他們分別;不要沾不潔淨的物,我就收納你們。


THE ‘MISSING’ PANDEMIC: MISSING PEOPLE WE CARE ABOUT

By Jim Mathis

Because staying at home during the Covid-19 pandemic seemed wise, I felt like I had aged by a couple of years over the first months. I had not been eating too much or watching too much TV. And it was not because I was not doing anything, because I used the time to focus on projects I had been wanting to do for years. It was because I missed people – being around them, watching them, interacting with them.

I have missed going for coffee or lunch with friends or playing music, but specifically I missed the younger people that are normally part of my day. We attend a large church with a couple of thousand people, most of whom are young. My wife and I are one of the oldest couples there. Sometimes older people will visit, but among the regular participants, we are the oldest or close to it. That means a lot of kids and teenagers running around, and loud, high-energy music.

What I have missed most is the energy in the lobby. Talking with people, happily greeting people I have not seen since the last Sunday, and generally getting recharged for the week. I do not try to remember the kids’ names; I just enjoy the activity and young parents trying to keep their toddlers under control. Basically, I have missed face-to-face interaction with people on a regular basis.

It is said we become the average of our five closest friends – becoming like those we spend time with most. If we spend time with smart people who challenge us to read and get better educated, we naturally do that. If our friends are athletes, we will become better athletes. If our friends are arrogant, or slobs, we start following their examples. So friendships we establish make a great difference in who we become.

Motivational speaker Charlie “Tremendous” Jones often said that we will be the same people five years from now except for the books we read and the people we meet. The Bible, as we might expect, says much about the importance of our relationships with other people. Here are just a few examples:

We were created for relationships. From the beginning, God wanted to enjoy relationships with the people He created, but also recognized we need healthy relationships with other people. “The Lord said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him’” (Genesis 2:18).

Loneliness can be a terrible affliction. Just as being with people keeps us motivated, lacking such interaction can be debilitating. “There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. ‘For whom am I toiling,’ he asked, ‘and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?’ This too is meaningless – a miserable business!” (Ecclesiastes 4:8).

Being with other people brings many benefits. Being able to associate with other people does more than just eliminate loneliness. “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!… Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

Hopefully in the months ahead we will be able to resume spending time with old friends, making new ones, engaging in new and exciting activities, and forming new and positive habits. We have the perfect opportunity to find a new normal. Remember, those we spend the most time with can strongly influence who we are and who we will become. So, choose wisely.

© 2021. Jim Mathis is a writer, photographer and small business owner in Overland Park, Kansas. His latest book is The Camel and the Needle, A Christian Looks at Wealth and Money. He formerly was an executive director of CBMC in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.A.

Reflection/Discussion Questions

  1. How have the restrictions of the pandemic – social distancing, stay-at-home orders, working from home rather than going to work – affected you, especially in terms of your usual interpersonal relationships?
  2. Have you found a decrease or lack of normal social interactions to be a negative influence in how you have felt, mentally, emotionally, or even spiritually? Explain your answer.
  3. What has been the one thing you have missed the most socially during this time? Have you been able to maintain your work productivity, or has it declined due to a limited ability to work and interact with others as a team?
  4. Would you describe yourself more as an extrovert, a person who thrives by being around people, or more of an introvert, someone who can do well even when not interacting with others? How has that affected how you have reacted to the pandemic restrictions many of us have faced?

NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages: Proverbs 27:17; Romans 12:3-5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-26; 2 Corinthians 6:14-17


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