Monday Memo: Together is Hard

Terry Walton


Together is Hard

I was thinking...

“We’re in this together!” Those are meaningful words when said or heard. Together is a powerful thought. It portrays the idea that we are not alone…someone else is walking with us…understands our situation…identifies with our human condition. “We’re in this together!”

It seems we have finally discovered something for which we can be together. That something is a storm…Hurricane Ian. I heard it and saw it as one of the most powerful hurricanes made landfall last Wednesday near Ft. Myers, Florida and continued to make havoc across the Florida peninsula and up the Atlantic east coast. Over and over, I heard reporters and interviewees proclaim that “we will make it through this and then ‘together’ we will address the storm damage. We will help our neighbors and meet the needs of those around us.” Wow! Sounds Christian, doesn’t it?

One person even said, “we desire to treat those who have been devastated by this storm like we would want to be treated if it were us who were devastated.” That sounds like the ‘Golden Rule’ quoted by Jesus. What is happening to us that we can come together to address a common need…regardless, if our neighbor is black or white, gay or straight, Democrat or Republican, Hispanic or Asian, immigrant or full-blooded American, young or old, tattooed or not, pierced or not, lover of country music or rap music…what in the name of God is happening to us? Have we lost our minds…to think we can “actually” do some things together?

Why is it that there must be many traffic accidents, one often involving a death, at a particular traffic intersection before a traffic light is installed? Why must the human animal (we), more times than not, learn things the ‘hard way’? Why does it take a devastating storm before we once again taste the beauty of togetherness? Why must pain be the popular position that ultimately gets our attention, cools our jets of division, and shows us that there is a better way?

Togetherness is hard! I have been teased into thinking that it is easy…but it is not. Jesus worked hard at gathering his primary disciples. He found it a challenge on most days to keep them together in spirit and in objective. Two fought as to who was the greatest. One worked overtime to be solidly on board with Jesus only to deny him when the going got tough. Another’s timeline didn’t match Jesus’ way of doing things and he chose to betray him. Another doubted…and the list goes on. Togetherness is hard!

Why is it hard? I think it is hard because we all have egos, we all have inert needs to always ‘be right’; we all like to win and not lose…most of us feel a need to be in control of things…including our destinies and lives. Togetherness is hard because ultimately, until the Holy Spirit does its sanctifying work in and through us, we are selfish, self-centered, and just plain old greedy sinners.

It was the Gospel writer Mark that would make this record, “After calling the crowd ‘together’ with his disciples, Jesus said to them, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me and because of the good news will save them. Why would people gain the whole world but lose their lives?” (8:34-36, CEB)

Togetherness is hard! However, God is all powerful! We’re in this thing called life, with its storms and calm blue skies, together. We have seen, recently, that together is far better than apart. Holy Spirit, you are welcome to do a ‘together’ work in me…and I suspect others may desire that work in them as well. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.

Always Thinking…

The Rev. Dr. Terry E. Walton
Executive Assistant to the Bishop 

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