Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. -Ecclesiastes 4:8-10
In our culture of independence, it can be really difficult to admit that we need one another. We like to think that we can do it all ourselves. Somehow we have equated dependence upon others with weakness.
But can we really do it all by ourselves? I know I can't, as much as I sometimes would like to think I can. It's when I'm flying high, thinking I've got it all together on my own, that I crash and burn, humbled and reminded that I need to involve others in my life if I want to continue to grow and live a full life. I need to rely on the strengths of those around me, especially those who are strong in areas in which I am weak.
I'm often blind to my own faults, and I need people in my life who know me well enough and love me deeply enough to point them out to me. I need friends to encourage me when I get discouraged, make me laugh when I'm down, challenge me when I'm getting complacent, and motivate me when I'm being lazy. The only people who can do this are those that I let get close enough that they can see the not-so-pretty parts, not those that I keep at an arm's length.
When I set my default I-can-do-it-by-myself tendencies aside, feelings of loneliness and isolation subside, and shame goes running for the hills. I am no longer pressured to hide my struggles and weaknesses, showing the world only select parts of who I really am. Those kind of authentic relationships give me life and joy, instead of leaving me running on autopilot and constantly making sure my mask of perfection is still in place. And when I'm living in the security of knowing I can be honest and real, I give others permission to do the same with me.
As my sister wrote this week, we learn best together. When we experience life in community, we build off one another, sharing our knowledge, points of view, and experiences, and we challenge each other to continue growing. We see the deep, rough parts of each other's hearts, and we live life together in the darkest nights and brightest days. We get the benefit of multiple perspectives, past experiences, lessons learned, and knowing we aren't fighting alone.
As we receive help and love from others, we're learn to extend the same gift in return. And as we discuss difficult questions, create an atmosphere of safety and acceptance, open up the floor for any and all questions, and struggle to find answers, we forge some of the deepest friendships we've ever known.
By having a solid base of people to turn to, we have a support system and firm foundation for when things get rough. We know we can ask them for prayer and help no matter what life throws our way, and that knowledge alone is empowering. Seeing prayers answered and witnessing true change is a powerful force, but one that we only experience when we live up close and personal with one another-- enough that we get to see both the "before" and "after" pictures. It allows us to face life's obstacles more confidently, trusting that although we can't climb all of our mountains alone, by God's grace and with the support of those who have our backs, we can continue moving forward.