I spent several days last week attending a Board Game convention. Although there are many, this one was in Dallas, which is an easy drive for me. 1000 people meet for almost a week at the DFW Hyatt hotel and play board games. I know, I know – this sounds nerdy. Perhaps it is. Okay… It is. You wouldn’t like it. But I do, and am glad to have gone several times.
Board games are a beautiful thing. They provide a context for connecting with people. We spread out a complicated board, we learn the rules, we establish the boundaries and we spend time together to see who wins that time. Along the way, we may trade or compete or work together or form alliances or get angry or ask forgiveness or get to know each other or drink beer or eat chips or spill drinks – whatever. We decide if we liked the game and if we’d like to play it again or something else the next time.
So 1000 like-minded people gather together for the same thing. We have conventions for comic books, Star Trek, little people, classical school educators, Reformed bearded church planters, celebrity impersonators, Santa Clauses – why not board games?
I think everyone wants to connect. Some people would never ever go to the Hyatt to play games. No doubt. But they’ll do something else equally as strange or offbeat. We attend concerts together. We eat together. We play together. We still go to movies. We could watch at home, but there’s something about being at the game to watch Perine break the record in the rain or Durant hit the shot. So many people made the trip up to Kansas City to be there when the Royals finally made it to the World Series. Being there.
I think everyone wants to connect – and everyone hates it too. We don’t like to connect with people we don’t like. We make excuses. We’re too busy. We’re not thrilled to be sitting at the table for a few hours with an over-competitive jerk who doesn’t know the rules. We have to consider if sitting next to someone in church really is worth it after all. We’re afraid we’ll be typecast or marginalized or in the overwhelming minority. Or that someone will care and show up to help when we really just wanted to suffer alone.
We find the beauty and terror of connection in our marriages. In our friendships. In our parenting. In our alliances. In our partnerships.
If I am connected – If I am known – If I start showing up and revealing myself – Will I be accepted and loved? Or will I be rejected?
It’s easier to juke and jab, to come in and out of relationships on our own terms. To attend a week-long board gamers conference and then wait til next year when we can control the narrative of our lives. To stop attending CityGroup or church or neighborhood associations. That’s what I do. Because I’m scared to be known and rejected, and in my fear I constantly jeopardize all of my relationships all the time.
I think we need to keep trying to make these connections because we’re made for it, even if we’re scared. We need parties. We need confessionals. We need impromptu meetings. We need work projects. We need institutions and schools and government and restaurants and nurseries. We need to mix and match our groups so we can make new connections and fosters old ones. It’s scary but it’s good. It’s important to our humanity. It’s a part of what people are for.