In the course of researching an article for the Church Times on small groups I read an interesting book, “The Search to Belong: Rethinking intimacy, community and small groups” by Joseph R. Myers. His thesis owes a lot to the work of Edward T. Hall, a sociologist who identified four spaces in which we develop personalities, culture and communication, each relating to a distance:
Public: 12+ feet
Social: 4 to 12 feet
Personal: 18 inches to 4 feet
Intimate: 0 to 18 inches
Myers contends that churches encourage all relationships into the intimate space, and communicate that this space is found in a housegroup. He thinks this is a mistake. A sense of belonging and community can be found in each space.
I can see this turning into a bit of an essay, so let me cut myself off at the pass and just say this: maybe sometimes wefeel more isolated and alone than we are, because we overlook or undervalue some of the vital networks we belong to, thinking that it is only the intimate relationships that count. Depression can talk you into thinking you are all alone in the world, but it is very unlikely that you are. Look around you. When I look around me, these are the places I belong:
my church, my neighbourhood, my daughter’s preschool and soon to be school, my family, England, the Tiny Tots committee, Slimming World in Beaconsfield, my housegroup, my Regent friends, my university friends, my facebook friends, A Rocha… and that is just a beginning.
Do you feel you belong? And if you do, does this help you fight off the blues?