The Isolation Game
Last December, Josh and I were craving a screen-free activity we could do at home together for some much-needed quality time. So I checked out the Ticket to Ride board game from the library (YES, the library system I work for has board games you can check out for FREE, in case you didn’t already know. You’re welcome). I had wanted to try this game for a while, as it sounded interesting and fun, the object of the game simple: connect train cars in order to reach a given destination before the other players reach theirs, and whoever runs out of train cars first with the most completed destinations on the map wins.
On the first night we picked that worked for us, we played three rounds back-to-back in that one evening alone. Immediately hooked, we chose a different night that week to include Josh’s daughter, Asha. Then SHE became addicted, requesting to play “the train game” almost every night of the week she stayed with us. Any parent with a gets-bored-easily-attention-span-kid knows they’ve struck gold when the kid wants to do something OTHER than watch TV. Needless to say, we were saddened when the game had to be returned three weeks later. But in those three weeks, tons of laughter, conversation, and most of all, bonding as a family, ensued. As a result, we wished we had incorporated game nights into our life sooner, and have tried at least one new game every month since (Hence, inspiration for this month’s Game Night outreach event!).
Amid the demands of ministry, work, school, extracurricular activities, chores, laundry, homework, errands, etc. with little rest in between, Josh and I often wonder how other families prioritize time with spouses, their kids, and even further down on the priority list, friends. If any of us are truly being honest, many of us only have one or two close friends we’ve stayed in touch with over the years. And unless this is a struggle only Josh and I have, making new friends to no avail due to conflicting schedules, different life stages, or not being cool enough (kidding, although sometimes I wonder), has grown harder with age.
When we moved into our new house last fall, we were excited for our kids to grow up in a suburban neighborhood that abounded with children their age. Both of our neighbors across the street greeted us (albeit, we were all coincidentally outside raking mounds of leaves), and Josh and I were hopeful that we’d get to know them. However, winter submerged us into hibernation from human interaction and we haven’t spoken since. Furthermore, in the mere five months we’ve lived here, it’s been unsurprisingly apparent that social avoidance is strong in the suburbs. Everyone is accustomed to the same daily routine and they seemingly like to keep it that way.
And yet, people are craving relationship and a sense of belonging in our neighborhood; in our community. The desire we had as kids to make friends remains desirable as adults, and it’s not a simple or normal move to ask that other parent at the playground if they want to be friends. Can you imagine the look they’d give you? That is, if they pause long enough to look up from their Smartphone. Kids, on the other hand, don’t bat an eye when asked such an innocent question.
Why is it so hard to meet people? The connection social media gives us to others, whether we haven’t seen them in years or just met, is fast, easy, and only requires a click of a button to Add or Follow someone. Friendship should be more effortless than ever. In truth, our digitally-driven world has further isolated us. While I acknowledge that all of this has been repeated before, the loneliness one might feel, despite having 500+ friends on Facebook or thousands of followers on Instagram, applies to the message I am trying to convey: Intentional friendship has been replaced with convenient connections.
I don’t know about you, but I want to be more deliberate about whom I choose to spend my time with. I want to work harder at my current relationships to sustain them. I want to meet new people and welcome them into my home and our ministry and further introduce them to other people. I want to laugh, cry, encourage, support, pray for, hug, and love people. After all, our mission statement is, “Love God, love people, make disciples, and prove it.”
This month, Mission: Andover attests to this declaration by hosting a screen-free Game Night for all ages and all people to unite and have fun. Single or married, kids or no kids, friends or no friends, COME. Take this opportunity to laugh, converse, and bond; be intentional in connecting with others, even if it’s not convenient. Though, we will argue that the time of this event is as convenient as it gets for a weekend in the middle of the snowy school year—seriously, 3pm on a Sunday afternoon, after all your to-do lists, homework, and naps have been accomplished; before dinner and preparation for the long week ahead ensues—NO excuses! Plus, it’s St. Patrick’s Day-themed! Wear green, enjoy green punch, and eat yummy snacks that are also the color of a four leaf clover. It’s a game event, after all, and some of us could use all the luck we can get to win.
At Game Night, it won’t matter what games are played; what will matter is the impact time spent with significant others, kids, your friends, or new acquaintances has on you and everyone else participating. For our family, we created memories through an activity that didn’t require much planning or set up in advance and yet, we had a blast. We want the same outcome for this outreach event.
We hope to see you there!
20 “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
John 15: 12-13
12 “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
24 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,
25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”