Designed to be Dependent


Central Square, Cambridge is a 10 minute walk from our apartment. It’s not a tourist attraction, nor is it the prettiest square that Cambridge has to offer. Central Square is utilitarian. Bus and subway stops are easy to navigate. Several banks, a couple of churches, and all the major chain drug stores dot the streets surrounding the square. Restaurants and coffee shops are in abundance and whether meeting someone for business or pleasure it’s an easy place to gather.

A couple of years ago the Central Square Wendy’s closed. While we rarely frequented this fast-food establishment, known by the red-haired, freckle-faced little girl on the signs, many others did. Large groups gathered near the front of the restaurant — they were regulars.

It was their place to gather.

I thought of this recently as I read an article about a McDonald’s in Queens that was ‘evicting’ a Korean group for over-staying their welcome. The restaurant has a prescribed 20 minute customer dining period and this group was staying for hours at a time. The writer of the article wanted to find out why – why this McDonald’s? Why didn’t they go to the senior center, a place designed to be used by retirees as a gathering space? What did this group, picking this restaurant, have to do with urban space?

This McDonald’s had become a “Naturally Occurring Retirement Community” or a NORC. There were several reasons why this happened. One was just proximity. When questioned all but one said they lived within one or two blocks of the restaurant so they could come without assistance at any time they chose. The second was that this particular McDonald’s had large picture windows, perfect for people watching.

But ultimately – it was all about community and finding a place in the city. 

All this makes me think about community and finding our spaces. We are designed to be dependent on one another, to not live in isolation. This is an undeniable thread in our DNA. So we will search and search to find that community, whether it be at a McDonald’s in Queens or an online chat room. The places and spaces we find may not make sense to outsiders looking in– why this McDonald’s and not a burger king down the road? And some of the communities we find are not healthy, not life-giving. But if questioned, we all have our reasons for why we have picked the community and the space that we pick.

If anything proves our deep longing and search for community it is the results you get when you google “How to find community”. In under a second I got 1,810,000,000 results. My jaw dropped when I saw this. In fact I had to count the zeros.

We want to be welcomed in to a physical space that is close to us, to a place with those who are like us where we can sit together and watch the world outside go by, to a place where time stops and all life makes sense while we’re together.

We are designed to be dependent.

Which leads me to ask these questions: Do you have a “McDonald’s” in your life? A place where you gather for community and friendship? Where do you find community? Do you believe we are designed for dependence? 


Stacy is in Uganda and says this about today’s muffins which are Banana Sour Cream: “Since I’m still in Uganda, once again, I’ve chosen an ingredient that is produced here in abundance, bananas. We’ve been eating them every day and the farm where we are staying grows several types, including ones called Matoki that the Ugandans served cooked and mashed.” Click here for the recipe.

*Image credit: ronfromyork / 123RF Stock Photo. Words added by

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3 thoughts on “Designed to be Dependent

  1. That is a very interesting point! Both the idea of having a community in your life as well as the implications for a TCK. Of course, travelling so much and growing up in many different places makes it harder to find stability and a place to belong. But many TCKs are quick to make friends and try to belong ‘150%’ to the place they are in for the time being. The alternative would be to close yourself off completely in order to avoid these nasty goodbyes, which would ultimately leave you even lonelier.
    I guess being a TCK requires a bit more effort from you to find a community and belong (even though it might be for a short time only), but it is possible. I do not say it’s easy. And I am still wondering how much the community has to do in order to welcome us as well.
    Another thing TCKs are blessed with is the worldwide community of friends. So we might not have a community right where we’re at, but there’s always a McDonalds to hang out on skype, facebook etc. :)


  2. It surprised me that this article was on a website about third culture kids and crossing cultures. I find that missionary kids and people who are used to traveling many different places have the hardest time being dependent and opening up to others because they know relationships are only temporary. How do you connect the two? How does a MK get become dependent in a community when they know it will just leave?


    1. Hi – thanks for your comment. I hear what you’re saying and yes – there are hundreds of goodbyes…but I don’t think that negates the fact that we are designed for community. I find that MK’s and TCK’s do know about community, They are often used to much tighter communities where they grew up in expat or other missionary circles than they find back in their passport countries.So the struggle with opening up I think is about an inability to find and connect with community in their passport country. To your point on becoming dependent in a community when they know it will just leave — I found that more of a struggle when I began having my own children and we lived overseas. The community I grew up in was far more ‘stable’ than the community we lived in with our children. There were far more goodbyes. Even with that I would say we experienced deeper and better community there than any I’ve experienced in my passport country.


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