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Shared Experience

I had an epiphany today.

I'm still trying to hash it out so bear with me, but here's what I'm thinking: relationships are built on, structured around, and dependent upon shared experiences.

From a Godly perspective, every instance of our lives is spent creating memories that we intend to share with people. Picture the following familiar scenario:

"Hi honey, how was your day?"

Good, I got a lot accomplished today: attended this meeting, ran that stat sheet, had lunch with this group of people, blah blah blah. 

"Wow, sounds like you had quite the productive day! I ran such and such errands and put our child down for a nap at this time but then he woke up at that time and we have been nonstop ever since!"

Oh man, that sounds like quite the hectic experience! I don't know how you do it, but I sure am glad you do. What would you like to do this evening?

And on goes the evening of our productive little hypothetical couple. You see, they spent the day doing things, activities that likely were shared experiences with people they don't know (clients, cashiers, subway patrons, etc.) and then they came home to share those experiences with someone they love and care about. After catching up on the day's activities, they proceed to go about their evening creating shared experiences that they both will remember and cherish (however consciously or subconsciously).

When you meet up with a friend you haven't seen in a while, what do you do? You start to play the "catch up game": how is your son? how is your job? you look like you've lost some weight, what have you been up to? how is your family doing? etc. etc.
Because you care about that friend, you are trying to catch up with what they have been doing and you are trying to share in those experiences with them.

Later that night you sit down to play a board game with the friend or perhaps you watch a movie. I used to think that this type of entertainment was frivolous as it didn't involve probing into each other's lives and might even promote a non-conversational tone in general.
But now I realize that that's okay. Because you're building a shared experience together, which is exactly what you would've done by talking.

A few weeks later you hear that your favorite band is in town so you make arrangements with that friend to go catch the show. You are creating another shared experience with that friend.

Social media as a whole exists (and flourishes!) because of our need to share experiences with each other. We post pictures or write one line blurbs about what is happening to us or around us and we wait for someone to "like" it, view it, share it, or somehow validate us by sharing the experience with us.

9/11 was such a powerful national event because it became a shared experience for everyone who witnessed the horrific fall of the towers. There was shared emotion the following weeks and months that built bridges with people we didn't know existed.

You see, humans were created to share experiences.

If someone lived outside the boundary of civilization for much time at all, it wouldn't take much before they began talking to themselves. There would be a depravity of physical touch that would leave that person feeling technically lonely and abandoned (see studies on newborn fatality rates when not given skin-on-skin love and attention). Without shared experiences, humans are designed to die.

In an essence, shared experience is why we were created--to share love and life with God. To share experiences with what God created and tell Him how much we like it. We pray to catch up with God or to share in the experience of now with Him.

So as you go about your day today, don't forget that while you're making experiences to share with the world, share those experiences with the One Who gave you experiences to share.


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