Larry Crabb’s book, Connecting, has been an interesting and, at times, brow-raising read. Crabb’s ideas for how Christians might more effectively “connect something powerful with something good” utilizing the Christ-like energy within are certainly not old hat idioms in terms of modern Christian writing – he even addresses the obvious risks of positing such a radically different position from his earlier work so late in his professional career. Regardless of the initial reticence that one may feel toward this approach, Dr. Crabb does inspire some compelling internal dialog in the reader regarding the paramountcy of true connection and genuine relationships between Christians, and more importantly, the sobering ramifications of disconnection.
A few things come to mind when I think of “loners”: Jesse James, “Into the Wild”, James Dean, “Desperado” (both the movie and the song by the Eagles), Wolverine from the X-Men, Troy Dyer in “Reality Bites”, that 35 year old guy trying to pass as a high school student on Beverly Hills 90210, many, many of my favorite poets, J.D. Salinger, Doc Holliday, Thoreau during his Walden phase…you get the idea. In this messy milieu of everyone-in-everyone-else’s-business, hyper-social networking, media-crazed insanity we call modern life, it’s a wonder anyone can possibly get away with being a recluse these days, and yet they do. But at what cost?
A lie is still a lie, no matter how popular it may become. No matter how much the media may glorify the lone rebel, or praise the free-spirited, non-committal attitudes of an immoral lifestyle, the fact remains that God built us to be relational creatures who care for and uplift one another while carrying one another’s burdens (Gal 6:2). It would have been utterly cruel and unfair to design us to be islands unto ourselves and then have commanded us to love one another as we have been loved. On occasions too numerous to count, God has used others to open my eyes and heart in ways that would have been impossible otherwise. Isolation prohibits me from receiving this nourishment and connecting in fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ which is, well, no bueno. As a somewhat reformed introvert, I can understand the inclination to want to pull into one’s shell, dwelling only on the things and people that we enjoy, but does this really stretch or grow us? Does it help others? As counselors, we will often be in the position of needing to connect in a very meaningful way with a variety of people, some of whom we may vehemently disagree with, and some that we may not even particularly like. Whether we can connect in the way that Larry Crabb suggests remains to be seen, but one thing is clear – our obligation is to the profession of soul-care which means reaching out even when we’re unsure, stepping closer when we might want to run away, and being mindfully present when maybe, we would rather be fishing.