So here’s my explanation of a sometimes-puzzled, sometimes-amazed face who most of the time stares at jes when a word pops up during sharing or supper, because she’s the only person I shared this with. The word is organic. It started with me saying to tsui “I like all my friendships organic.” This was in defense as to why I don’t try too hard to reach out. I wait for opportune moments to strike. A conversation. Hur.
This word came up again during my silent retreat. It was my own affirmation of my calling. If I wanted my relationships to be organic, then so too my vocation. This word then holds special significance in my heart. But here’re my thoughts on friend-making and community-building organicity.
(there’s no such word as organicity apparently lol)
I look at the close relationships I’ve had in log and I feel lucky. Friendships with joan, jes, soo… We just happened to be in the same stages of life, have same things to talk about, and well, the last one cannot siam cos always have to go home or go places tgt. Hahah. I didn’t have to lift a finger. They all happened so naturally, God must somehow have had a part to play in all of it. Schneaky God. And I’m so comfortable in them sometimes I wish all my friendships turned out like that.
Maybe I’m lazy. Or fearful that my more assertive attempts will fail and I will be rejected. But it is also true that I want my friendships to grow and mature naturally ie. with a little help from God. It also means that I am open to opportunity; that if I happen to end up having one-to-one time with someone, it is an invitation to have a more-than-casual conversation. Like a seed taking in water and nutrients from the soil to grow as it should. But if a cat happens to die at the foot of the tree, then a little fertiliser is all the better.
(sorry for mental graphic image, i really saw a rotting cat under a tree once)
Within sojourneying, I saw snippets of it. When our sharing would veer off the planned theme or questions, or when I said something totally spirit-inspired which struck a sojournee, or when my sojournees share my frustrations in my current situation. God was there nudging in the most natural manner. And yet, (human) inorganic interventions has its place in the friend-making, community-growing process.
Inorganic intervention is the skill of sweet-talking orientation leaders and public relations people churning small talk to get rid of awkward silences that might repel freshmen and journalists. Although related to introvertedness and extrovertedness, it is a skill that can be learnt by both. I did. While I was still involved in orientation camps, I learnt how to put on a loud front and talk just about anything under the sun, which I must admit was really good practice in ice-breaking during church camps. I used to view this skill with disdain, thinking that conversations which arise from it are superficial and a mere excuse to not search deeper in a person.
But I have realised that not only does this skill have some useful purpose in it, it is essential for searching deeper within a person. Yes, it is useful to break ice with strangers and not-so-familiar community members. But to have meaningful sharings where hearts connect, I’ld say, you have to start from small talk.
To grow in community is not to just talk about God all the time. To be in community, we have to be interested in each other’s person, get to know their favourite movie or drink or place so that you can understand why later on, or which educational institution or income level they came from which shaped and influence who they are today. Under every superficial topic is a deeper story which can be uncovered. And the opposite applies. Every significant aspect of a person’s life can emerge from a superficial story that was engaged in small talk.
HTHTs with certain loggers can naturally go deep. Into the night. Lol. And that’s because these loggers know me, know which stage of life I’m at, whole lot of back story to the struggles I’m currently facing. But we didn’t get there overnight. We had 8 whole years. To fight and disagree, to be infatuated with each other and then fall right back out, to wait for our life stages to coincide, to simply be comfortable even in a surrounding we come to every week. And this gives me much hope for those I don’t really know yet. Those who still end up in awkward silences mid-conversation with me. Someday, some time late into the night, we’ll look back, in the comfortable silence, and see the magic that God has weaved into our friendship.