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Fragmented Lives

Fragmented Lives 2

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Revisiting a post from almost four years ago. The more things change, the more they stay the same! The only major difference is we are now settled into a physical community where we are very happy.ย  We are hoping the relationships will come with time.

My mind is swirling with things to write about. So many thoughts that I’m synthesizing, but whenever I do get time to write it is usually for a client right now.

Fragmented Lives

One thing I have been thinking about lately is how fragmented lives are today. Maybe yours isn’t, but mine is in some ways and I suspect this is true for many. I’ve been thinking about this because my inbox is full of unanswered letters, there are friends I want to see that I haven’t in a long time, and life just feels too full. Full of good things, but too full nonetheless. And the fullness comes, in large part, because of trying to keep myself integrated into too many circles.

I was thinking about how nothing is simple relationally because life is made up of so many different parts and fragments. We have a church family, but no friends there. So we go to church and that is one fragment of our lives. It is a part of our lives, but not integrated into any other parts of our lives in any meaningful way. Our friends are scattered here and there in other churches and towns and states. Family is a minimum of a thirty minute drive and even then our lives are all so different and plugged into different activities and priorities that being meaningfully involved on a daily basis is near impossible and being involved regularly is very challenging.

Our work encompasses yet another circle of people that have no relation to any of the other fragments. They are scattered far and wide throughout the country and, in some cases, the world. Most of our clients we never meet in person. And while we have wonderful relationships with our clients, they are not a regular part of our lives. Yet another circle.

Circles That Never Intersect

So we have all these circles with which we try and long to meaningfully connect with in some way. And which all require their own effort and time and emotional investment.

We worship with one group of people.

We are related to another group of people.

We are friends with yet another group of people.

We work with another group of people.

And they basically never intersect.

Praying for Real Community

The biggest part of my longing for simplifying our lives over the past twelve years that has never happened is to be meaningfully settled into a community. To put down roots and invest ourselves where we are. While we have tried to do that in some small ways where we are, it is never satisfying or meaningful in any large measure. When we have committed and tried to put forth a lot of effort in one particular fragment, it was often not met with any kind of significant response so we became discouraged and gave up.

In fact, to be perfectly honest, I think I would do very well as a hermit! Sometimes it is just easier to focus on home and hearth, David and Caroline, and just let the world go by. But I know that is not best for anyone in the long run and so I continue to pray that God will provide us with some kind of meaningful community. That we will settle physically, emotionally and mentally in a place where God would have us and we would see fruit borne from our efforts.

Just some ramble-y thoughts from my mind and heart today…

Fragmented Lives


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  • What a great post!

    Here I thought we were the only ones in that situation, before we moved back to Nashville. In Atlanta our circles never merged. However, it always bothered me. We hoped that eventually our business associates, who became friends, would eventually visit with us at church. That NEVER happened. However, since moving back to Nashvile several of our ‘circles’ have merged. I know that is due to the fact that Nashville is a smaller city, and much more friendly than Atlanta. Also, here in Nashville we have a large circle of family that are as close as 10 blocks away in one case, and as far as 12 miles away – and all in between. So, perhaps it’s more about the size of your city (although in Sallie’s case I don’t think that’s true).

    I wonder if this is true for others. Love to her from others how their ‘circles’ merge, or not.

  • I wonder if some of this fragmentation isn’t unconsciencously purposeful. If you have a rift in one circle, you just move onto the next one. That’s easier than working it out. If all your circles were one, you’d be obligated either to work out your differences or recreate your entire world from scratch, both options being significantly more difficult than the fragmented option of just cutting off one circle and moving in the other circles.

  • Jo Anne – Thanks!

    Amy – Yes. And I think it sometimes is even consciously purposeful. It is easier to just walk away than have to work things out. I know I am guilty of it.

    That is one of the things that I find scary about living in a smaller community. What if you get there and discover you don’t fit in, people take a disliking to you, you end up on the wrong side of a disagreement, etc.? And while it might be my goal to live at peace with everyone as far as I am able, I’ve lived long enough to know that there are people who oftentimes don’t have that same goal and will freeze you out. F.O.R.E.V.E.R. Yes, even those that claim the name of Christ.

    You know, when I graduated from high school I was so glad to be out of there and go to a large university. I went from a class of 150 people where everyone knew everyone to a Big Ten University (Michigan State) of 42,000. I loved it. Maybe I wouldn’t like living in a small community. I don’t know. But I do know that God made us for relationship and it seems like there is a big hole in the way things are right now.

  • Sallie,
    It took us almost two years before our those in our church family circle became our close friends. and now with the breakup of a nearby church it looks like our “old friends” circle will be joining our church. my MIL recently started going to our church, and I love it! It’s good to share your church life with your family. it feels complete.
    we even have some clients from within our church circle. those are kind of hard at first. the more you know about your friends (like weather they can really afford this necessary repair) the harder it can be to set a price that is fair to you. & if you can’t cover your costs, then you can’t feed your family. & unfortunatly many who can afford it expect a discount from you because they are your church family. aside from those two issues its nice to have your church family rooting for your business, and scaring up leads for you. yes it is more peaceful when your circles overlap, but as Amy mentioned it is harder work. and it forces you (this is a good thing) to be consistent in all areas of your life. because its going to get around if you don’t.

    Mrs Nehemiah

  • You put my feelings into words exactly!

    I often wish my 5 sisters’ families, my parents, and my own family of 7 could buy a big parcel of land, build our own homes on the land and live in close proximity helping one another, enjoying fellowship, etc. Like a family compound, I guess.

    This might sound bad, but through the years, I’ve found too many friendships to be high maintenance and yet shallow. I know God brings many people in and out of the garden of our lives for a purpose, and yet I long to simplify and shut out the insignificant-seeming relationships that seem to require more care than they should need.

    I often think too how this fragmentation you speak about would affect our country if there were a crisis like a depression. Families now live far-flung, chasing the almighty dollar to the detriment of their futures. . . and “community” is a dream in places where people from different regions of the country are incessantly relocating and bringing in diverse values and priorities. It’s been my observation here in the South that people don’t necessaily want community with others different from themselves. . . the relocated Yankee couple looking for a bigger house built in a neighborhood that used to be farm land seems to prefer the company of a swingers club instead of the company of the rural farming families who haven’t sold their land yet.

    Anyways, I often wonder if becoming a hermit is right or wrong. I think about it and just want to draw closer those who matter most to me instead of blowing energy on that which doesn’t appear to matter.

  • Very thought-provoking post.

    It takes a lot of work to make and keep friends (and to keep relationships with family up too).

    Even when one joins a church, or even a club of some sort (I’m thinking like a mom’s club), it takes a lot of effort to make friends. It’s not instant.

    You have to show up at events and the like, for quite a while, even if you have a horrible time for the first 10 times. And even then, after years, you might be lucky to have made one true friend!

    I think when we all lived near each other in family groups, we didn’t have to do this sort of socializing, because we had the built-in group. Not to romanticize it, because I’m sure there were downsides to living so closely, but certainly there were upsides.

    Now that we fling ourselves all over the country and now that so much of our time is spent working, those bonds are gone, and they are not easily replaced.

  • We have very fragmented lives too. I was making friends with people in my new congegation and then earlier this year we endured a split. All the people that I was developing friendships with left inthe split.

    We moved cross country leaving family and friends behind. It was not our choice, nor was it because we were chasing the almighty dollar. My husband lost his job and needed another one. He searched all over the country, including the area we were in but there were no jobs there.

    One does not always have a choice as to how far they will be from family. In the pioneer days, not all families were geographically close either. There were many women that were far from their home. I often think of them now that I am “a modern day pioneer” as one friend put it.

  • I completely understand and relate to this post. I am relatively new to your blog but had to offer a comment. This is exactly where we are in our lives right now. We’ve left all our family and friends and moved to a new state.

    Our families have given us grief for leaving. So, I find myself cutting them out of things and focusing on home instead of looking for support when I’m lonely. I don’t want to hear any more I told you so.

    Our old friends are moving on without us. As they should. So, I close off that door too. Focus on the three of us and home.

    Our new Church is large. We don’t know where we belong and we don’t know anyone. But, it is easier that way. We don’t have to put ourselves out and find out we don’t fit in anyway. We’re happy just the three of us, right?

    We homeschool, so already we’re weird to anyone my husband works with. They “in passing” make comments about our rural accents. It’s OK. All in fun, right?!

    So, I am working on finding the contentment to be here. Trying to learn to put myself out there for new people and create a circle of friends in our lives. We were so dependent on family to be that circle before we left our home state. We didn’t ever really have to work at fragments in our lives. I think the biggest hurdle to making a community of friends for us, is ourselves. When we are unsure or threatened we turn inward. We’re happy to just be home together. But those bonds of community, a life that moves in smooth circles, one that requires only one face, are important and sorely missed.

    I’d be happy to be a little hermit family! I just don’t know if that is best!

  • Emily – our family was just taking about this concept. We recently had a family birthday at our home. At the end of the evening my Mom, the female cousins & I, and along with my step-daughter, were all sitting around talking about the economy and what might happen if the banks truly go under. All of a sudden, everyone agreed, well at least we all have large homes, and if we needed to we could all come together and live in just one of them. I am very blessed to have a family who truly get along, and sincerely care for everyone’s well being. At least the part of my family that live here in Nashville do.

    I don’t think anyone in the other circles of my life would want to do that. I know that if our country wound up going into a deep depression that our family would still have issues with one another, but I remember my Mom telling (she went through the depression, I think she was very little though) me that during the depression her family and her Aunt’s family all lived in one house for several years. I asked her if that was hard, what was it like? She couldn’t remember a lot of things – but this is funny, she said the women use to fight over whose turn it was to cook dinner each night! I counted them all up once and it was about 18 people. Can any of us here think seriously about doing that? How would you handle that?

  • Hermits Unite! LOL!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Glad to know I’m in such good company!

    Seriously, though, great thoughts.

    A few more random thoughts since I always turn blog posts over and over in my mind after I write them and people start responding…

    One thing I know about myself is that I don’t have “friends”. I have “kindred spirits”. As you have probably figured out if you’ve read here long, I’m introverted and prefer to focus on a few things rather than a lot of things. So I generally have found kindred spirits and they have been my friends. Casual friendships are too perplexing for me. I don’t get them and don’t know how to be a friend like that. Well, I do, but they are a lot harder for me and take a lot more effort. That’s why I like my blog readership being smallish and full of kindred folks. It’s easier for me to deal with than posting something and having 150 or 250 comments. I couldn’t cope with that.

    But in all seriousness… what does it mean to be a hermit and is it really wrong? Is it really wrong to have a very small circle of associates? I think about this a lot. A LOT. I’m happy as a lark sitting in the living room watching/listening to Pride and Prejudice (A&E) for the umpteenth time and mending. That is my idea of a nice evening. How does one balance the need to be a part of a church body, going into the world to be a light, etc. with the simplicity of being a major homebody? And maybe major homebody is a better term than hermit since hermit carries negative connotations with it.

    Hmmmm… More thoughts later, I think…

  • Hi, Sallie. I’m glad to have found you blogging again after (drawing a “mom” blank- I know I read you after “Two Talent Living” !!!)…your other blog ๐Ÿ™‚ Something about this post grabbed me as poignant. Do you think we as believers are meant to live in isolation (as hermits)? How do you feel about the fact that you don’t have friends in your church? Do you think you will be able to build relationships there that will allow y’all to …”encourage one another…daily”? These are not “drive-by shooting” questions, so I fervently hope they don’t translate as such.

    On another note, we moved from the Jenison/Hudsonville area just before I found your old blog (TTL). I have often wished that I had stumbled upon it sooner so we could Meet In Real Life ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Hi suburban housewife! Good questions…

    About not having friends at church and does it bother me… Yes and no. We haven’t been there that long so part of it may just be time. But, yes, it would be nice to have friends at church. So far it hasn’t happened. I don’t know if it will or not. Only time will tell. It is a pretty tight knit group of people with lots of relations in the congregation so it may be more challenging to make friends since there are already a lot of strong relationships in place. I don’t mean this in a derogatory way, but I’ve really lowered my expectations about church involvement and relationships over the past five years or so. I guess I see friends at church as a bonus, not something I really count on to happen.

    I don’t think Christians should live in isolation as a general rule. However, people will probably have different opinions as to what is isolation. What is isolation in a world of too much technology and globalization? Part of answering that question has to do with stepping out of the time we live in and trying to gain some long-term perspective. I think there is a lot about today that is very unhealthy in terms of technology, the speed of our lives, the shallowness of relationships, etc. For all the good technology and globalization bring, they’ve also done a lot of damage.

    As far as the encourage one another daily… Does that have to be within the local congregation? Or do I do that here? In years past I enjoyed going out and speaking at conferences, women’s groups, etc. Now I get to share with women and encourage them and I don’t even have to leave my home or family to do it. These are questions people never had to answer before.

    And one I’ll throw out… Loving our neighbors… Providing for those in need… Why do Americans think they have to go to other states and countries and continents to do this? Why don’t congregations start right in their own church and neighborhood? Their own city? Their own state? Again, technology and globalization make this all possible. But just because every American Christian can go abroad every year on mission trips, does that mean its a good thing? I’m not saying foreign missions are bad. Please don’t read it that way. They are vitally important. But is seems to me that if more people would focus on doing good in their own little sphere, all of our little spheres would be much better places. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I hope all that makes sense. I need my dinner so my thinking is a little fuzzy! LOL!

  • If we all (and I mean all) focused on our spheres, our homes namely, then the world would be a better place!

    Think of how many problems come from people not focusing enough on their home spheres and their own families, of any size. Many problems in our world come from being too outwardly-focused.

    I’m an introvert too, and I think of it as a great gift that God has given me. To be happy at home with my family and a book, what a wonderful thing!

  • yep, surely can relate to the hermit thing!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ i never used to understand how people could be hermits but, hmmm, can work it out now! lol

  • If the people I worshipped were not my friends, I would be friendless! (well, unless I want to travel for over an hour to see someone). I know people in my village, but like someone already said, you can know people for a long time without them being friends.The best way to become friends with people in church is to serve with them- the best fellowship can be had in service. But I know you have been burnt before through problems at church. Re the comment about friends from the past- it is very hard when they are getting on with their lives and you are no longer part of it- but it gets better. You learn gradually to accept that your lives no longer interact as they used to but you can still keep in touch and count on prayer support ๐Ÿ™‚

  • SALLIE! I can’t believe you are blogging again, well I can but I am so sad that I miss you starting back up, it is so good to update on you and hear your thoughts on things again. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Anyway, I totally get this post, we live in a small town now, and we drive to the big town to do church and have friends, it is really silly, and at the same time, we are having a hard time plugging in here in the small town………I will go back and read all the comments later and I am sure find somethign to glean from them.

    Amie ๐Ÿ™‚


Sallie-Schaaf-Borrink-060313-B-250x250I'm Sallie, teacher by training and now homeschooling mom of Caroline. My passion is to provide products, encouragement, and information that helps others discover and do what works with their children. I also write about living a cozy life as a highly introverted person. Welcome! โ™ฅ

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