I'm sure you already knew this, but just in case, we live in a flawed world.
A thousand different flaws probably just came screaming into your head, but let's talk about one that probably didn't: self-reliance by way of projected strength.
Our society has given an incredible weight to projected strength and in turn, our society has also given incredible value to independence. When hard times hit you better buck up, buckle down and find the strength to deal with it yourself because seeking solace and guidance would only make you weak, right? I beg to differ.
The more you strive to be independent, the further you move away from God’s perfect design for your life.
You were built to take part in deep intimate relationships with the people around you. We see an example of this in Genesis 2:1-25. Adam first enters the world with the duty of tending to the garden. However, soon after God says, ‘It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’ Pay attention to the wording God uses: ‘I will make a helper.’
Here, the word helper insinuates that once Eve is placed in the garden, she will come alongside Adam and they, being dependent upon one another, will together accomplish the task that God has set before them.
Matt Chandler explains further:
“Everything up until this point in the creation narrative has either been good or very good, and then God sees the man and says it’s not good for the man to be alone.”
The creation narrative in and of itself with respect to Adam and Eve is dealing with marriage. However, this concept carries far beyond that. Simply put, each of us have been designed by God for deep relationships. The truth is though, the urge from society to constantly project strength robs us greatly of the benefits of companionship.
Too often we try to put on a front that everything in our lives is okay. We put on masks that say, "I’m put together, I’m happy, I don’t have any worries, I’m not anxious, I’m in a good place." But when the rubber meets the road and we're completely honest with ourselves, this usually isn't the case.
I know I'm not put together, I'm not always happy, I do get anxious, my life is often plagued by worry, and up until this point in my life, I’ve constantly tried to hide these flaws. Something changed though. I realized that the longer I tried to hide my flaws and the harder I tried to appear strong, the more I felt alone.
"Don't compare your behind-the-scenes with everyone else's highlight reel." - Steven Furtick
I knew I was hurting. So, in my head, since I knew my own pain, I expected people to be there for me and I expected people to be asking me what was wrong, but they weren’t. “Why does nobody care?” and “how is nobody noticing?” were questions that I often asked myself. The real question I should have been asking was, “why am I not reaching out to people?”
The reality of the situation was this: I was too prideful to let anybody in. I was working so hard to project strength that I was too afraid to let the people closest to me help, and in turn, was damaging my close relationships. Here lies the paradox:
The stronger I tried to appear, the weaker every relationship in my life became.
To begin to combat this struggle I had to realize one, simple fact: I am human. Being human means we fail, we get afraid, we get anxious, we get angry. And all of that is okay. We have to understand that we are weak people and that there is not a single person in this world that does not struggle no matter how put together they may appear. We are weak, but He is strong [see 2 Corinthians 12:9-11].
Maybe you're thinking, "other people don’t struggle in the same area as me so they won’t get it.” But I would argue that it is such a blessing that we don’t struggle in the same areas. Along with your unique weaknesses, you have also been given unique strengths.
Let me break it down this way: each of our particular strengths and weaknesses are like puzzle pieces. You only have one hundred of the pieces and the puzzle we're building calls for a thousand pieces. Lucky for you, the people surrounding you have the missing pieces. Their strengths complement your weaknesses and your strengths complement their weakness. The people around you are the missing pieces.
In order to find those pieces you must seek them out, and that will require you to crawl into uncomfortable places. But I promise that in the end, when the puzzle is complete, all the work and all the discomfort will be secondary to the immense blessings that God brought to your life through these authentic relationships.
There is perhaps no greater display of humility than crying out to God and to the people closest to you when you are hurting. Because as it turns out, people are puzzles - building together for the bigger picture: God's ultimate glory.
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- Noah Rivera // Humbled Daily Co-founder, Wyoming native and aspiring petroleum engineer at the University of Wyoming.