Sebastian Junger, famous author (The Perfect Storm), wrote a book called Tribe, in which he said “We have a strong instinct to belong to small groups defined by clear purpose and understanding–‘tribes.’ Humans don’t mind hardship, in fact they thrive on it; what they mind is not feeling necessary.”
Further, he says, “There’s no use arguing that modern society isn’t a kind of paradise. The vast majority of us don’t, personally, have to grow or kill our own food, build our own dwellings or defend ourselves from wild animals and enemies. In one day we can travel a thousand miles by pushing our foot down on a gas pedal or around the world by booking a seat on an airplane. When we are in pain we have narcotics that dull it out of existence, and when we are depressed we have pills that change the chemistry of our brains. We understand an enormous amount about the universe, from subatomic particles to our own bodies to galaxy clusters, and we use that knowledge to make life even better and easier for ourselves. The poorest people in modern society enjoy a level of physical comfort that was unimaginable a thousand years ago, and the wealthiest people literally live the way gods were imagined to have……..And yet.”
What is your “yet”? What is missing from your life? (Well, if I knew what was missing, it wouldn’t be missing, would it?) In my case it all started with a stroke in March of 2016. I lost my strength, my balance, and my optimism about things that my body could do. Suddenly, here I was, weak, uncoordinated, walking like a drunk. Suddenly, no optimism about what my body was going to do in the future and yet, and yet. My yet is this: I am actually more content that I have ever been. God has a way of transforming us into what we most need to be. Before the stroke, independence formed the core of my being. I thought I loved God, but He doesn’t favor independence, He favors dependence on Him, and others He puts in my life. Now, I am somewhat dependent on others, and will probably be more so in the future. Love of interdependence was what was missing.
Junger says, “Modern society has perfected the art of making people not feel necessary.” But we don’t have to give in to that feeling of being “useless.” We can choose to be useful to an ever widening circle of others. I can’t walk but I can drive, so I drive a woman who is not allowed to drive, to our church home group. I can still be useful in small ways to my children and a small circle of friends. Perhaps the circle will grow wider over time, if my abilities recover better. This circle is my tribe. What about your tribe? How can you make yourself useful?