“Everyone stand up! Remain standing as long as you answer yes to my questions.” We were introducing new people in a group I hang out with. The questions would thin us out until the honored new member stood alone.
First question: “Do you like Starbucks?” Easy enough. I like Starbucks alright. I prefer The Coffee Bean. I love Coffee Connection and Full of Beans, but I like Starbucks. Quite a few others sat down.
Then came my dilemma: “Do you watch Project Runway?” Project Runway is not macho. Project Runway is anti-masculine. All they do is design and sew. I love college football and basketball. I like to watch Dirty Jobs and Myth Busters, a show where they constantly devise new ways to explode things.
Men were taking their seats all around the room. What was the question again? “Do you watch Project Runway?” I did not watch it in 2009, or the year before, or the year before that.
However, I am a dad. I have a teen-age daughter who loves design and fabric and sewing. On Thursday nights you will find us snuggled up on the couch watching, yes, Project Runway. We have chosen to do life together.
Facing the question, I remained on my feet. Around the room there stood a bunch of women, two guys who are professional designers, and I. One fellow gasped, grinned, then shouted, “Ben!” I fielded several questions after that meeting. Yes, I watch Project Runway.
Before I came to Ojai, another preacher congratulated my congregation on speaking openly about our real lives. One man had spoken from that platform about his alcohol abuse. He figured out that he had a problem while he was bicycling home drunk – he had lost his driver’s license—his bicycle smacked him face first onto the pavement. Another man had told about his dependence on pornography and how close he had come to losing his family. That community is very open.
Yet the preacher challenged them to overcome one more stigma. Could they learn to talk about prison? It is part of our lives. It is part of the life of any community. One week before I had welcomed back a young woman who had been locked away for two months. Hush. No one could know. That same day a mother had opened her heart to me about an adult daughter who had just been convicted and was awaiting her sentencing. Hush-hush.
Doing life together in community includes an appropriate degree of openness. It is often easier to remain closed and private rather than open to community. We acknowledge that worship means opening ourselves to God. We are learning to open ourselves to each other. I did not want to admit to Project Runway. Yet I felt better for being honest about my life.
I dare you: Do life together.
What’s happened to you, or in you, in doing life together?