Someone with skin

June 7, 2017 Farmville Enterprise

Today I spent over an hour on the phone in an attempt to get help with my cellular service. For most of that time I was on hold. My instantaneous thought when the prompts started instructing me when to press which numbers was, “How can I get to talk to a person?”  It often seems like the pre-recorded options do not fit our specific needs. They are so impersonal. If you are like me you prefer to explain your issue to a living, breathing human being with good communication skills.

It reminds me of the sermon illustration of the little girl who was afraid of the dark. Her father told her that she did not need to be afraid since God was always with her. She replied, “I know that, Daddy, but I want someone with skin.”

We were created in the image of God. This includes being built to be in relationship. Jesus often spoke of his interconnectedness with the Father and the Holy Spirit. In a similar way, we were made to live in community. In the creation account “God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” (Genesis 2: 18) Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 explains that “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

As automation and technology play an increasing role in our everyday lives, the desire for human connection only escalates. There is something about a meaningful face-to-face conversation, a hand on the shoulder or a hug that could never be replaced by a machine. Did you ever take psychology and learn about experiments with baby monkeys that showed how much they craved a soft touch – even if it were only a piece of cloth? If you look up “Harlow’s Monkeys” on the internet you will find videos where monkeys were given wire “mothers” and cloth “mothers.” The wire contraption had a bottle with milk while the cloth form next to it provided no food. The babies, when let into the area, would run up and nurse very quickly and then go cuddle with the cloth “mother.” The monkeys spent 17-18 hours on the cloth “mothers” but less than one hour on the wire ones. These experiments showed the importance of contact comfort for monkeys. From early on we humans desire to spend some time with others. Let’s remember how meaningful it can be for us to be physically present for those who need a listening ear or a shoulder on which to lean.  “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17) “How good and pleasant it is when sisters and brothers live together in unity.” (Psalm 133:1)


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