Independence seems like the ultimate confirmation of being a ‘real man’ or for that matter a ‘real woman’. Something inside us wants to prove that we can make it on our own, to pay our own way, to not need anybody. Perhaps that’s why some people move out of home when they turn 18 (or sometimes younger!) Perhaps we were taught from early on that being independent from our parents and those around us should be our goal. Birds will push their young chicks out of the nest so that they will learn to fly – if they didn’t push them, the little birds would never try something that strange. Maybe you’ve also been pushed out of the nest.
But more and more I’m starting to see how this mindset develops into a lonely and isolated existence. Going it alone – either as a single person or as a family unit – has some romantic notions and promises to never be a burden on anyone, but it can’t be healthy. God designed us to live in relationship with each other, to be a community. Listen to this verse from 1 Corinthians 12:
14For the body is not one member, but many. 15If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 16And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. […] 20But now there are many members, but one body. 21And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” […] 26And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
I love that part ‘If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it’. It’s not that I want to bring everyone down all the time – but have you ever suffered something in silence? Have you ever pretended that everything was OK, because you were afraid you would be rejected or be a burden – or you weren’t even sure what you were afraid of? As Christians we are supposed to be the body of Christ, and there are no independent parts in that body. Each part needs every other part in order to function, and God has designed us to work together in unity and harmony.
I have been wrestling with God today over finances. He has repeatedly reminded me to trust him to provide for me, but there’s that part of me that keeps rising up and saying “I want to do this in my strength. I want to provide for my own needs and in the future for my wife.” But that’s not how God is leading Ruth and I to live. He is asking us to be fully dependent on Him, and on our fellow Christians for all our needs. Even though things don’t look promising now, He knows our needs and He will provide for us. We have to let go of that part of us that wants to be independent.
I also think about Romans 12:10 – “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Was that only talking about honoring the pastor above yourselves? No. It applies to everyone in the church. To often, the person sitting next to me in Church is suffering emotionally or financially or in their health, but I’m not at all interested in listening, praying for and helping them. My prayer is that I am more sensitive to the needs of my brothers and sisters in Christ – and have the guts to ask them how things are really going for them.