We can go this life alone. But it’s a lot longer and harder. American culture has done humanity a disservice in telling us that we can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and make things happen on our own. We’ve learned that somehow asking for help makes us weak, and deeper still, that weakness is a problem.
But God expects us to be weak. And he wants us to even – dare I say it this way – celebrate our weakness. In weakness we are drawn toward humility. When I feel strong, I don’t think I need God or others to support me. But when I am lost and have nowhere to turn, the only way out is to let go of my pride and admit my need. That is humility.
Can we be humble when we are doing well? Yes. But not unless we are cultivating a spirit of gratitude and dependence on others and a willingness to serve.
A valuable gift that’s come out of the seasons of weakness I’ve walked through has been the realization that although Satan wants to isolate me, I am never truly alone. I’ve learned to build my team and then when I feel that loneliness creeping up on me, to call my people and connect.
In weakness we learn to lean on God and somehow other people see that, even when we don’t say much about it. I’m always amazed at what people see in my life when I thought I was struggling in silence. God shows himself off when we are trusting in him.
But we do have to actually work to build a team of people around us. Simply showing up at church or play group doesn’t ensure we’ll make connections. There have been seasons where I have been more alone than I am now. And I hated it so much that I chose to start the work. Every person’s team will look different. An introvert will have fewer close friends. An extrovert may need more people to reach out to, both deep and surface level friendships. Someone in relatively good health won’t need many practitioners to rely on. Someone on a healing journey, like myself, may need a variety of them.
What kind of people make up these teams? All kinds.
Friends, I’ve found, meet different needs in different seasons. We need friends with a variety of spiritual gifts. We should connect with people who are similar to us and can understand us but also people who are different from us and can sharpen or smooth us as we need it. Some of my friends are generous servants who I call when I need help with my dishes or my children. Some are full of spiritual wisdom and I call them when I am inwardly struggling. My mom friends relate to my parenting struggles but I appreciate friends who aren’t moms, too, to remind me of other valuable aspects of life. And there’s the friend or two who bring out the fun and sarcastic side of me.
Health practitioners are another valuable team. I am so thankful to be living in a city where I can find a variety of people and services, but with today’s online community, long distance services are more available than we may realize. I haven’t written extensively about my health journey as of yet but on my team I have a good nutritionist, chiropractor, holistic nurse practitioner, massage therapist, mental health counselor, and friends who are physical therapists and trainers. I’ve tried a lot of different avenues to move toward full physical health and so appreciate each person on this team that helps me when I’m physically or mentally struggling. Some of them are Christ-followers as well and that is a double blessing.
It’s not impossible to find people to help you. It can be hard. I’ve been praying and looking for people over the past five years to help fill some of the places I’ve needed filled. God has provided each friend, doctor, therapist, etc, just at the right time and way. Sometimes I’ve had to be bold and ask for help, or offer things like trading babysitting, to start connecting deeply. Sometimes we’ve had to ask for discounts on services and found practitioners to be generous and willing to help. God provides, in one way or another, in his time.
We are not alone. When we do feel alone, we need to run to God and sit in his presence, whether he feels close or not. And we need to turn to the people, the physical hands and feet and faces he’s given us, who can remind us of what really matters.