Give them something real.

2 Mar

Hey, guys, writing my first post from my new laptop!  The old one finally crapped out after six years, and now I’m trying to figure out if Windows 8 is a brilliant innovation or a brilliant disaster.

I’ve had this post on my mind for a while, and it sort of has to do with the usual around here, but it also applies to life in general.  My boss recently celebrated her birthday.  I’m not a gift person, but I felt that a card was not enough (and then I found out that she isn’t a card person anyway, which mooted the card idea), so I decided to bake some cupcakes for her.  Not cupcakes from a box – cupcakes from scratch, with frosting from scratch.**

When I brought in the cupcakes the next day, my boss acted like I had roped the stars and laid them on her desk.  She then proudly handed out cupcakes to everyone on the floor.  Afterward I had several people rave about the cupcakes to me – and look completely shocked to find out they were made from scratch.

The whole experience hammered home that people are starved for realness – not just food, but from people.  Our world is so fast and fake, and I think a lot of adults spend much of their time feeling overwhelmed to some degree.  So when someone injects some simple realness and simple consideration into their lives, they can hardly believe it.

Maybe in the church community we take realness for granted, because churches are all about building community and meeting together and eating (seriously, how many church events do NOT include eating?).  But people who aren’t plugged into a church community are often very isolated, especially if they don’t have family nearby or are estranged from their families.  I think that as Christians we sometimes, as a result of being in a community, get very myopic and spend a lot of time tending mainly to ourselves.  Some of this is natural, but even as we take collections for missionaries and do specific missions activities, we forget that there are people we associate with every day who are in need of simple acts of real love.  And I know that this blog mainly exists because church culture gets a lot wrong, especially in the area of dating and romance, but as Christians we do have something very real to offer the people in our lives.  We have the chance to pass on the love that transformed our lives to others.  I think we too often forget how profound that is, because we’re too busy measuring ourselves against the super-Christianity of Joe Worship Leader or Sir-Prays-Out-Loud all the time.

So, give the people in your life something real this week.  People are looking for the genuine article.  The small things, in the end, are often the biggest things.

**I used the Betty Crocker carrot cake recipe.

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12 Responses to “Give them something real.”

  1. Dave March 2, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

    Seems to me that I experience far more “community” amongst those I work with than those I encounter at church. For me the question seems to be whether or not the community extends outside the boundaries of the church walls.

    I tend to find my church community a fair bit like my local Starbucks community – there are a bunch of regulars that I tend to chat with but the “community” doesn’t really extend out of the building.

    Maybe it’s the male bachelor thing…

  2. sjero87 March 2, 2013 at 7:02 pm #

    Couldn’t have said it better myself Haley. My mom found your blog and showed it to me, and I am so glad she did. You are so dead on with your blogs about the single life of a young christian woman as well as men. I think this post is so true. People, even in the church, can get caught up in looking out for number one that they don’t notice the person that comes in alone. I am guilty of this as I’m sure we all have at one time. I am trying to get away from that and reach out to everyone especially those that come alone and don’t know where they fit in. I am currently in this position having just started a new church, and it means so much when someone just says “hi, I’m ……., what’s your name?”

  3. anna March 2, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

    Had to lol at this -> “seriously, how many church events do NOT include eating?” not many for sure.

    This is especially difficult when you have a massive food issue such as celiac disease, certainly makes you appreciate the art of the genteel decline. I’ve had people at church ask me to dinner with their small group and get a deer in the headlights look from me before I bolt. I seek out small groups that don’t eat meals together.

    Then is always the awkward communion. Do I decline the bread and thereby accidentally signal that I’m not taking communion? Or do I take the bread and secretly throw it away? Or tell the church to give me gluten free bread and put a giant neon sign over my head that says “food allergy attention wh0re”?

    So, yeah, no one has surprised me yet with cupcakes or cookies but I’m already dreading the day that happens…

  4. Natalie March 3, 2013 at 11:42 am #

    @Anna

    I’ve gone through periods where I’ve tried restricted diets, and my husband has a pretty impressive list of allergies (beans, dairy, fish etc). Just matter of factly tell them that you appreciate their invitation and would love to join them but you’ve got a severe gluten allergy. Then wait to see if they say “Well we were going to do some chicken and vegetable kabobs” or something similar. I know it’s a pain to have to ask them exactly what marinade they put on the meat or what brand of taco seasoning they use, but at my church at least most people are happy to accommodate if they possibly can.

  5. anna March 3, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    natalie,

    i was trying to make a funny. That was more back when I was first diagnosed, now I’m an expert.

  6. Natalie March 3, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

    Sorry, my bad. Apparently my humor radar is off today :)

  7. y81 March 3, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

    C.S. Lewis wrote an essay about this (“Religion: Reality or Substitute”). Maybe Haley can tell her boss that store-bought cupcakes have the same relationship to real food as L.A. life has to ultimate reality, and offer her living cupcakes, so to speak.

  8. Elspeth March 8, 2013 at 1:17 pm #

    That was the first carrot cake recipe I used to make my husband a cake from scratch when I was learning to bake many years ago. It’s a good one.

    As for the rest, you’re right. People are longing for something real. Good for you to recognize that and act on it.

  9. Random Angeleno March 8, 2013 at 11:30 pm #

    Speaking as a divorced man of a certain age, there never was a place for me in my last parish other than as a Eucharistic minister serving communion at Mass or giving it to the shut-ins at the old folks home. The women in that parish never took me seriously as a single man, never introduced me to their single friends. Not like I’m ugly or something, I met and dated women away from the parish on a semi-regular basis. But the point about the community is still a good one, I did enjoy the occasional companionship with my fellow ministers and I did enjoy visiting the old folks’ home every week. What characters in that place….

  10. ballista74 March 9, 2013 at 7:25 pm #

    Very good post. The problem with Christian environments in terms of what you describe is that they have no conception of what true community is or represents. The association with churches, especially with the trend towards individualistic religion, is that community is achieved by “shared experiences”. In other words, if you show up to the events you’re in community and there shouldn’t be any other problems. There’s been several cases I’ve seen in person where people have been overlooked and unacknowledged within church environments for years.

    You are right in that people are looking for realness. The sad thing is that they won’t find it in church environments simply because of this factor (and that a lot of people in those environments are “users”, too). You have things like the Karma Army simply for this reason. Of course, this lack of true community opens people up big-time to the seduction of cults (both “Christian” and otherwise).

    The saddest part out of all of this is that you described the real Biblical purpose and essence of the Church in the lives of believers. The unfortunate part of this is that much would change if the Church would be more genuine and real towards both Christ and the brethren. But sadly it won’t happen, because men won’t give up their human traditions to do it.

  11. whatsnew March 10, 2013 at 6:15 am #

    In this post you are giving two completely different messages, and they only marginally overlap…

    The first message is that “people are starved for realness” which is very different from this:

    “we forget that there are people we associate with every day who are in need of simple acts of real love.”

    The latter is not about “realness” as such, it is about personal attentions being the manifestation of love.

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