The embarrassment, the frustration, the thoughts of “how dare you!?” rushed over me like a tsunami as I sat around that table. Surrounded by men who I didn’t know well; my insecurities were raging. I found myself sinking back into my seat not knowing how to respond.
In 2010, I accompanied my church on a mission trip to Jacmel, Haiti. This was the first time I’d ever been outside the United States and especially to a third world country. I had tons of fears heading into the trip.
Each night of the trip, we’d gather up around a table at the mission to talk about how God had challenged and changed us during that day. I remember being somewhat timid to talk the first couple of nights, but soon felt like I needed to speak up. “I’m an introvert, so being on a trip like this is way out of my comfort zone. I’d much rather be alone than with people…” Before I could speak another word, a raspy elder voice interrupted me. “That’s a lie!” I stopped in my tracks thinking, “wait...what!?!” The seasoned gentleman who had been helping us at the job site continued, “That’s a lie from satan, son. God wants you to hear something. There are people who will love you no matter what and God wants you to live life with people. The enemy wants you alone because you’re weak when you’re alone.” I remember thinking, me and this dude are going to throw down.
IT’S NOT GOOD...
Have you ever been asked the question, What was the first conflict in scripture? When asked this question, my initial response was the fall of Adam and Eve. They went against God’s command not to eat of the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil and this brought sin into the world. But when I gave that answer, I was met with a big fat “WRONG!” Thinking to myself “How dare they challenge my 4 years of bible college?” I soon learned that actually the first conflict in scripture is found before Genesis 3. Actually Genesis 2:18 to be exact.
“The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” - Genesis 2:18 NLT
Now, when the Alpha and Omega, the Creator and Sustainer of all things, says something, we should probably pay close attention. God says, “It is not good…” Everything God created up to this point He acknowledged as “good.” But here we find God recognizes that there's some tension. “It is not good for the man to be alone.” But why is this different? Why does God see this as a bad thing? I believe it was because He knew that we were not strong enough to live this life alone.
As an introvert, I love being alone. Honestly I prefer it most days. One thing I’ve come to realize is that I’m most vulnerable when I’m alone. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about solitude; I’m talking about choosing to distance myself from community. There’s always a time for solitude with God, but I’ve often used that as a mask to not feel guilty about disconnecting from the tribe.
CHANGING OUR PERSPECTIVE
I’m one of those people who tends to be prideful in the moment, but with some time God works on my heart. While the gentleman, who called me out, and I didn’t end up in a death match, I did go to battle with myself. His words pierced deep in my heart and over the next several months, my perspective began to change. I started to see the truth of what God created me for and I began to ask these questions.
Does Jesus want me to be alone?
How well am I doing by myself?
How much more could I carry with others rather than carry alone?
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12 NIV
Solomon, a man of wisdom, knew why God didn’t want us to be alone; we can easily be overpowered. But to be joined with others in the name of Jesus, that's what makes us strong. Jesus tells us this Himself in Matthew 18:20 NIV
“For where two or three gather in My Name, there am I with them.”
That should give us motivation and encouragement that being in community is the right path. So as I started to realize all of this, I began to see my perspective on community going from avoiding to restoring. See, God didn’t put me in this world to avoid; He put me in this world to restore. If we are avoiding people, then we are missing the very example Jesus set for us. Let’s be honest, the Dude was constantly being interrupted by people. But to Him that was okay. It was good! Jesus didn’t avoid; He sought to restore those people.
There is no better time than now for us to embrace community. You may feel alone. You may be lost or broken. But cling the words my good friend in Haiti told me; God wants you to hear something. There are people who will love you no matter what and God wants you to live life with people.”