For as long as I can remember I have felt the need to rely solely on myself and no one else.
This was played out in my life after breaking up with a long time boyfriend my freshman year in college. I decided that guys were jerks and I did not want to have that feeling of heartbreak ever take hold of me again. That was when I decided not to allow men in my life. I wanted to keep them at an arm's length so I could be in control of not being hurt again.
After a while I found my identity in being single. I felt powerful listening to independent woman songs and brought my friends into believing that being single was ideal. I did not realize how I was forming an identity around my singleness until one day, when I was talking to an older Christian woman. She pointed out to me that I might be holding on to being single with a closed fist and not allowing God to work through my singleness. I then started to see how I was controlling my life and not letting God heal me in his way and in his timing.
When I look back at this time in my life, where my solution to hurt was to isolate myself and try to get through it on my own, I see how easily I fell into having independence and isolation as idols--and how I still have that tendency now.
This idol keeps me from turning to community and to my relationship with God.
My favorite part about having a relationship with God is that it is personal. I love how God made me the way I am, one of a kind. But God did not make me to keep this relationship with him private. I see God in a way that no one else does because he made me with a unique point of view. This point of view is worthy to be shared. Our relationship with God is personal, but not private. We can and should share our walks with each other so that others can see the different characteristics of God that we see.
God has changed my heart about independence. I do think it is good to be able to do things on your own and to have a personal walk with God, but He made community for a reason. He wants us to have fellowship and to rely on other Christians to keep us strong in the faith.
My two best friends and I call each other the three strands. We love the verse Ecclesiastes 4:12, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” We are the three strands in this verse, always being there for each other and helping each other stand against temptation.
Why would I want to stand alone in a fight against our enemy, Satan, when I know that it is harder for him to push me down with other Christians by my side? Our enemy wants us to believe that isolating ourselves will help, but he’s distracting us from what will truly heal—God and our community!
If having others see our vision of God and having them around to help us through hard times are not proof enough that God wants us to be in community, he makes it pretty clear when Paul speaks about the body of believers. I just love the picture of the body. See for yourself:
“For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.” (1 Corinthians 12:14-19)
Paul is saying here that we need every part of the body. We cannot move without our feet or our legs. We cannot speak without our mouth or our voice. We cannot help without our hands or our arms.
Again, God has made us uniquely to fit into the body in a certain way, and without community we are not fully living out the calling God has for us. Let us choose to depend solely on the Lord, while surrounding ourselves with fellow believers!
God, I pray that you would help me to cling to you and my community during hard times. I pray against the lie that isolating myself in those situations would help me and make me feel stronger. Help me to believe the truth that you, and the community you have placed in my life, are what is meant to bring me to my feet and give me motivation to keep going.
How have independence and isolation played out in your own story?