The independent streak that runs through human nature is powerful. This is particularly true when it comes to how we deal with our struggles, our vulnerabilities, our failures and our embarrassment.
Even for those who consider themselves very extroverted, opening up to another person about something sensitive and potentially shameful is something to be avoided.
Exposing our weaknesses and asking for help is something most of us, extroverted or not, don’t do. We prefer to keep things to ourselves and take care of them on our own.
That is fatal. And it’s not how we were designed to live.
No matter how many times you have heard what i am about to say, or have heard what you think i am about to say, you need to hear it. Again. And often.
We all do.
The metaphysical poet and English cleric John Donne famously wrote:
No man is an island entire of itself;
Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were;
Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
We cannot live in isolation as though we were islands. And yet, so many men walk through life in just that sort of posture.
To walk alone is to risk great harm to ourselves. All the great stories remind us of this.
Where would Frodo have been without the Fellowship in general, and Sam in particular? What about William Wallace and — as depicted in Braveheart — his closest companions Hamish and Stephen?
Or, consider It’s A Wonderful Life, where we see the situation from the other angle. What if the good-hearted George Bailey, a true friend to so many, had never been born? We see the catastrophic reality that would have existed had he never lived.
We love camaraderie, brotherhood and true friendship when we see it portrayed for us in stories. We even love it when we experience it in our own lives. But most of the time we practice isolation.
At times our lives can be marked by a stubborn independence fueled by an insistence that we either don’t need others or we must make life work on our own.
i know, you’ve heard this a million times before. But it bears repeating. We need each other. When we walk alone we risk great harm to ourselves.
Our lives are not that unlike those of the Fellowship of the Ring or Wallace and his band of warriors. The context of our lives is the conflict of two kingdoms — Good and Evil — and we are in the middle of it. We are aligned with the Good kingdom, even if for no other reason than that we are made in the image of the Good King Himself.
Therefore, we have an Enemy. Through our sin the Enemy has become the Prince of this world. This is why our lives resemble those of the characters in the Lord of The Rings or Braveheart.
Those characters knew better than to walk alone. If we saw the reality we live in as it truly is, we would not walk alone either.
When i am tempted. When i am under an attack from the Enemy. When i am doing well. In all of those situations, and more, i need my brothers with me.
Ecclesiastes 4 says it this way:
9 Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
Our need for brotherhood is rooted in the image of God that we bear. God is the eternal relationship of the Trinity. He has never been alone.
We need to follow that example.