I was in a recent discussion comparing our western competitive culture with more tribal, non-competitive cultures. And it got me thinking, pondering actually . . . do I have a tribe, and if so, who is my tribe?
Family is the obvious tribe for many of us. My family has a long history of not sticking together geographically. After high school we leave home, perhaps for college, perhaps for military service, perhaps for work. I always knew that when I grew up I would not stay in my hometown. My grandparents didn’t do it, my parents didn’t do it, most of my aunts and uncles didn’t do it, nor did my brothers. This is our norm.
As a young married woman, my nearest immediate family relative was 2500 miles away. As we settled in a new town with new careers we knew no one. We had no tribe. Gradually we developed close relationships with other young couples in our church. Nearly every couple in our group had family within 30 miles to provide connection and support. For us, however, this group of couples became our family. They were the ones who helped us in our times of crisis or need.
After I divorced I moved with my teenage children to a new town — again where we knew no one. But I quickly connected with a woman who had children the age of mine and whose situation was similar to mine. We became tribe for each other and our children. We are still tribe.
When I made my last move, about six years ago, the question quickly became “Who can I call when my ox is in the ditch?” I knew only two people in town. One of them got the call when I broke my leg and was laid up for several weeks.
Since then I have formed solid friendships with several other people. We are there for one another — to share fun times — and to take our calls when things aren’t going so well.
Tribe may not be the politically correct word for this life-sustaining group. Other words might be clan, folk, house, kin, kindred, lineage, race, or stock. The real question is, “Who are your people?” I think it’s best when our “people” are diverse. They bring a uniqueness to our relationship — and they value and support our uniqueness.
I bring all of this to your attention because it’s important to know who your people are — the ones who share your burden, celebrate your courage, carry your sorrows, walk with you, and hold one end of connection.
My people are:
- family in California, Oregon, Texas, the Middle East, Kentucky
- friends of over 40 years in North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee
- the Thursday Scrabble players
- the Monday bell ringers
- travel companions
- the Sunday brunch group
How about you? Who are your people?
Treasure them for all they bring to your life.
Until next Tuesday . . .