We are so conditioned in so many of our ways it’s quite frankly alarming. There are so many things we do regularly without even thinking or realizing that we do them and more often than not they’re not exactly great habits. It’s unfortunate but true.
Chiefest amongst these is our need to not let anyone know when we’re struggling. We’re told lie after lie after lie that we need to have a stiff upper lip and carry on. Don’t let anyone know what’s wrong! You’ve got this! We tell ourselves so fiercely that we are completely and totally capable of going it alone. We even believe that we have to go it alone or we will have somehow failed. It’s all fine and good to want to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, but to a point. And we humans are more than willing to walk ourselves right past that point.
Our worth is not measured by how well we handle our problems in isolation.
We’re not meant to do life alone. Full stop. We’re just not. Whatever lies we’re told about having to go it alone are not reflected in what God tells us. Look at the major characters of the Bible. While, yes, many do treasure their time alone (I’m not arguing introversion vs. extraversion) none of these painfully human characters do well with trying to handle everything all alone. Think of poor David on the run, writing psalms in the wilderness. You don’t need to read many of them to get the picture that he was unhappy with his solo struggles.
So why do we feel the need to go it alone? I can’t speak to all the reasons, but one particularly dangerous one for hiding our struggles and weaknesses from the world is pride. Nasty, horrid, life-ruining pride. Oh, it trips us up so easily in today’s world of instant gratification and online performance. We see the highlight reel of how well everyone else is doing and convince ourselves that it represents the whole picture. Then, when our own lives are less than perfect, we are so quick to hide away any trace that we might not have everything together at all times. But we bury our struggles and weaknesses at our own peril.
Pride is a currency we cannot afford to deal in.
You are not strong enough to do life on your own. You’re just not. You will never be able to do everything on your own without any help. The harder you work to hide your need for help the more you’re going to need it. It’s a self answering problem and the world’s answer is not a very pleasant one. If you want to make your life work well, you will have to let other people in to see what’s not working.
Why? Because companionship strengthens and protects us, plain and simple. A like-minded person with their eyes set on Christ is one of the best weapons we could possibly have in the battles life throws at us. The Bible is abundantly clear on that score and has countless reminders of the importance of fellowship. As Ecclesiastes puts it, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
Letting those who care about you know where you’re struggling is not weakness. It’s intelligence.
If you break down the struggle that is life down to battle terms (as the last part of that Ecclesiastes points out), the need to hide our weaknesses is borderline insane. No military force would ever be successful if it hid points of weakness from its fellow soldiers or just didn’t tell them they were going to battle. A lone soldier standing against an army may sound cinematic, but in reality, willfully choosing such a course would be disastrous madness. Having someone stand in the line with you against your enemy isn’t just something nice to have. It’s an absolute necessity.
Battles against large forces need to be met with large forces.
So if life is difficult to the point of you wanting to trust someone close to you with your struggles and cares, you are wise to do so and most certainly not a failure. You are doing what any smart military commander would have you do. Strengthen the points of weakness, call in reinforcements where necessary, and ready for the next attack. Why should that be a point of shame?
We will always fight lies about ourselves and what we’re meant to be doing with our lives, why also face that alone? As they say, life is dangerous, take a friend.
Let’s find some joy,