The Buddy System
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"I am a companion of all those who fear Thee, And of those who keep Thy precepts." (NASB)
Japanese crews preparing a building for demolition recently found the remains of a man in an apartment, and believe the man died a lonely death twenty years ago. A skeleton clad in pajamas was found lying on musty bedding when workers entered the second floor unit where the man had lived. The newspaper on the kitchen table was dated February 20, 1984.
Authorities say the man worked for a construction firm that built the
apartments in 1973. They believe he moved into the vacant building
after the firm managing it went bankrupt. They say the man, aged
57 at the time, suddenly stopped coming to work twenty years ago.
He was divorced and had children, but none of his family or friends ever
asked police to search for him. After hearing the gruesome news,
a neighbor said, "I had no idea that the apartment even existed.
After I heard the news I thought, 'It's as if time had stopped in this
Relationships make our lives so much richer. This story is certainly an extreme instance of someone who lived and died in isolation, but to a lesser extent, everyone who chooses not to engage with others risks dying a slow, lonely death and miss the opportunity of living a full, rich life in community with others.
IN GENERAL, THERE ARE BENEFITS to living in community with others. For one, they make our DAYS RICHER. In an article for MSN Money, Liz Pulliam Weston advises retirees, "Forget about the daily ups and downs of the market. What matters most are your health, your friendships, your family connections. . ."
She writes, "Another good way to combat depression and social isolation
is by cultivating a wide circle of friends. Yet most of us have a tougher
time making friends as we get older. Our lives get busy, our habits get
more ingrained, we become less flexible. Happy retirees say it's worth
the effort. Good friends of all ages can be a huge asset in retirement.
The older friends are important as sounding boards and guides to what's
ahead. Friends our own age get our jokes and pop culture references, while
younger friends give us fresh insights, keep us from getting too set in
our ways -- and help prevent us from outliving all of our companions."
Weston is writing specifically to retirement age people, but her advise
has universal appeal. Relating to people of all ages is heathy for
everyone. Can you think of a better arena to do so than the local
church? At our church, not only are we multi-ethnic and multi-cultural,
but we are also multi-generational. We are not living out our lives
in an artificial community of people just like us, but have the rich experiences
of interacting with people who aren't like us.