Maybe you’ve seen someone get nuked by something difficult, or perhaps you’ve experienced a life-altering hardship lately.
I’m truly sorry.
No matter what the cause or where it came from, suffering sucks.
Recently, I have had friends who:
- Lost a loved one.
- Have been diagnosed with cancer.
- Found out something heartbreaking about an adult child.
Over many years of seeing people go through hundreds (probably thousands) of such tragedies, I know the value of weeping with those who weep.
Sadly, however, I’ve also noticed a troubling trend nowadays that never ends well. When someone suffers, they withdraw rather than reach out to a person who loves them.
I get it. I’m an introvert who, by nature, tends to retreat when I’m hurting. However, what I want and what I need are often very different. I need others.
Here’s an all too familiar five-step pattern which you might recognize:
- Isolation (i.e., they go deep into a dark hole).
- Insulation (i.e., they shut out people).
- Inundation (i.e., they go from bad to worse).
- Infuriation (i.e., they eventually get mad at God, others, or everyone).
- Incapacitation (i.e., they come to a dead-end in life and often in their relationship with God).
I’m sure you noticed how each of those words starts with the letter I. That’s not by accident, and I’m not trying to be cute.
I is a problem.
Our culture has taught us that it’s best to be independent (hmmm, another I word). People like me use the excuse, “I’m an introvert who needs his space; please leave me alone.”
But if you are a Christ-follower, you need to remember something: Christlikeness in the community of faith (aka the Church) and a DIY attitude are incompatible.
Never, and I do mean never, does Jesus tell you that it’s okay to isolate because you can survive on your own.
The reality is you can’t keep your head above water without others.
You were made to live in a supportive and encouraging network of relationships.
Over fifty times in the New Testament, the phrase “one another” is used.
Because we need one another.
In his book, After Doubt, A.J. Swoboda says, “Humans have an incredible capacity to avoid looking reality in the face.” Sad and true.
Please look at and accept this reality…
When you are hurting.
When you feel abused.
When you are angry.
When you are confused.
When you are suffering.
Then, more than ever, you need others who will, at the very least, sit with you and cry.
So, please make it DIT (do it together) rather than DIY (do it yourself).
One last thing. When you intentionally press into relational support with another human, your problems don’t magically disappear, but life is always better together.
“It is not good that the man should be alone.…”
Genesis 2:18 (ESV)