Lonely chair on Jamaica Beach, Galveston, TX

Did God create us to live life alone?

Have you ever talked to a stranger and discovered you had more in common than you expected? I’m truly an introvert, so I don’t do extremely well in talking to people I don’t know. But I’ve had conversations on airplanes, in elevators–brief snatches of talk with waitresses in restaurants–and in those moments, I’ve been stunned at similarities or common points of view I’ve shared with them.

I really believe God brings people with like minds together without their knowledge frequently, and it’s up to us to figure out what we have in common. But the greatest and possibly most damaging lie our enemy whispers in our ears is that we are alone, that no one understands what it’s like to be you.

Lonely chair on Jamaica Beach, Galveston, TX

Lonely chair on Jamaica Beach, Galveston, TX

Today’s verses are Hebrews 10:24-25.

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Why is it important to have community in our lives? I hear people ask that often. Why is community important? Well, why is it important to know you can trust your next-door neighbor? That’s an obvious question. You want to know that your next-door neighbor has your back, that he’s watching out for suspicious activity around your house, that he’ll be there to make sure your home doesn’t burn down if you’re on vacation.

Having a spiritual community is no different. No matter how independent you may be, you still need friends. You still need people around you to keep you on the right track, to steer you in the right direction, to smack you on the head if you twist off and try to do something stupid. Nobody is strong enough to make it through life alone, and God doesn’t expect you to.

If God thought you were strong enough to survive life alone He wouldn’t have made so many people around you.

Yesterday I got another opportunity to remember just how awesome God is at putting pieces together. I watched a room full of strangers–these people had never met each other before–find common ground and forge friendships in mere moments.

Why is that important? Why does it matter?

Well, how would it make you feel if you bravely explained your life to a room of strangers and they all looked at you like you’d sprouted another head?

Conversely, how would you feel if you did the same thing and two other people–people you don’t know–express that they’ve had your same experience, that they’ve shared your struggles, your fears, your failures? I don’t know about you, but finding people who’ve experienced what I’ve experienced makes me feel like I’m not a lost cause. If someone else knows what it’s like to live my life and they’ve survived, maybe there’s hope for me too.

That’s God’s power in community. He brings people together from all walks of life, people who should have nothing in common, and they discover they have everything in common. He brings us together to help each other through the hard times in life, to support each other and encourage each other when life gets hard.

No wonder Paul warns us not to avoid gathering together. Growing up I thought that was a passive aggressive way to make me feel guilty for not going to church every time the doors were open, but that’s not what it means. What it means is don’t shut God’s family out of your life. Don’t isolate yourself because you think you aren’t worthy or you think no one will understand you. I guarantee you’re wrong.

Someone else out there has experienced your same trouble. Someone else out there could benefit from learning what God has taught you.

Do you have a community? Do you have people in your life who hold you accountable, who pick you up when you fall down, who laugh when you laugh and cry when you cry? If you haven’t got one, look for one. Pray that God shows you where to find one, and He’ll open doors you didn’t even know existed.

We were never intended to live life alone. So stop trying.

Lonely tree in the southern field behind Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Don’t let solitude become a security blanket

I’m an independent person. I always have been, from the time I was a little girl. I don’t need much to make it through in life. I’m not really the sort of person who requires socialization or a circle of friends. It’s easy for me to be on my own, and by that token, it’s easy for me to isolate myself. I live like a hermit anyway, alone in the middle of nowhere. And now I don’t even have a cat to talk to, as they’ve all either died of old age or got carried off by owls or coyotes.

And while I like the quietude of this lifestyle choice, sometimes the silence lies and tries to convince me that I’m isolated because I’m alone. And there’s a big difference between being isolated and being alone, between being independent and being lonely. I don’t necessarily think that isolation is bad. It just depends on your motives. But if you’re going to live a life that’s solitary–and even if you don’t–you need to be aware that lies get louder in silence. And you need to remember that even if you enjoy being on your own, you still need people.

Lonely tree in the southern field behind Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Lonely tree in the southern field behind Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Hebrews 10:23-25.

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

I’ve been running wild the last couple of months. Actually, running wild is sort of a constant with me. I’m always dashing from one thing to another, rarely standing still. But that’s me, and I’ve got a lot of plates spinning. So for the last few months, I actually haven’t been able to go to church. I’m fortunate to attend a church that streams their services live, so I’ve watched when I had the opportunity. But streaming online isn’t the same as being there in person.

I got to go this weekend. And being in the service, surrounded by friends and family in the blood of Christ reminded me just how much I need people. When I’m on my own, busy and bustling back and forth from crisis to crisis, it’s easy for me to think that I’m okay without sharing life with people. I’m functioning just fine, after all. But there’s more to life than just functioning. There’s more to life than just surviving. God didn’t put me here to just make it through another day. He wants me to thrive. He wants me to grow. He wants me to live.

And while I prefer the silence sometimes, silence isn’t always conducive to growth. And you can’t experience real friendship if you don’t invest in other people. It’s a risk, yes, because people are people. But it’s worth it.

Pastor posed a question in his message yesterday, asking us to think about the people who’ve loved us the most in our lives and what our lives would look like without them. That’s difficult to even think about. And my first thought was that I didn’t have a whole lot of people who loved me like that, and that’s when I realized I’d been shutting myself away too long. Because that’s a lie.

I started making a list of people who’ve loved me, who’ve made a difference in my life, and needless to say it’s very very long. It was much longer than I expected it to be. I have been very fortunate in my life to have many, many people come alongside me to support me and love me more than I deserved. But when you get so busy with your nose to the grindstone, it’s easy to forget the people who’ve invested in you.

So for the rest of this month, I really want to focus on friendships and relationships in life and how important they are. Granted, I’m not going to change the way I live, unless God tells me I need to. But I don’t have to shut myself away from people. Living a quiet life is good. Having quiet moments is essential. But when the quiet changes from a refuge to a security blanket, you’ve got a problem.

Don’t cut people out of your life. If you were sufficient on your own, God wouldn’t have made other people. And, yes, God is sufficient for you as your friend, your maker, your God, your Lord. But if it was just supposed to be you and God going through life without any other interaction with people, why are there people around you? God designed us to invest in each other. So don’t run away from it. Embrace it. Yes, that means you’re taking a risk. Yes, that means you’ll have to give up some time alone. But what are you really here for?