Who out there remembers the “Little Miss” and “Little Mister” books? Did I just date myself? Yes, but it’s totally worth it. Those books were highly regarded pieces of literature. They featured little colored “gumdrops”, or characters that were deemed Little Miss… or Mister… whatever the theme of the book was supposed to be. My favorite was always Little Miss Trouble—not that I could ever have been considered feisty, headstrong, daring…okay, I’m incriminating myself here. Regardless, my mother always called me Little Miss Independent.
To give you an example: surely you’ve met—or been—a parent sending their child to school for the first time, be it pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, or whatever. Parents line up in front of the school to take pictures of their child’s first day so they can capture that memory forever. Most of the time, they also follow their child to the classroom to say goodbye and wish them (the child) luck on their very first day. My mother loves to tell the story that she was also one of those parents, until I turned around with hands on hips at the age of five and shooed her away, telling her “Go away. I’m a big girl, and I can do it myself!” (Mom, I’m sorry I ruined your only opportunity for that.) Miss Independent was hereby active in full force.
There are times when being so independent is admirable—such as when you can fix a sink or change a tire (both of which I’ve done solo). However there are times when you can have too much of a good thing. As much as independence can be beneficial, God didn’t design us to be lonely. Big difference.
Allow me to first define the words independence and community. Community comes from the Latin word communitas, or fellowship. In fact, if you take the “com” component away, you’re left with munis, which is derived from *munire, *meaning to fortify, strengthen or defend. Remember the saying “strength in numbers”? *Independence *is a medieval word, derived from the French word indépendance, meaning to hang from or hang down. Clearly that definition has stretched over time. The point is, one is not the opposite of the other.
The thing that inspired this blog was getting sick a couple of days ago. I was already embarrassed about being sick, and my—wait for it—independence was threatened. After all, I’m a nurse, I should be well, and if not, I should at least be able to make myself better quickly--right? Anyway, as I fell into an hour-long coughing fit at 3 am, I decided to scroll through Facebook while I waited for my lungs to do their thing. I noticed someone else had been awake and posted that if anyone needed prayer, to let him or her know because they were also awake.
My head—or the enemy, actually--was saying, *“Cassie, don’t do it—you ask for prayer way too often as it is.”* The Spirit said to me, *“Cassie, it’s okay if more than one person prays for you to get well. You don’t have to do this by yourself. At least let someone pray for you.” * Next thing I knew, I was asking for prayer. It felt great knowing someone cared enough about me to pray on my behalf for something I previously considered silly--myself.
Even Jesus needed community. Think about the Last Supper. Jesus broke bread and drank from the cup with twelve of his closest friends the night before his crucifixion. Yes, the breaking of bread and drinking of the cup was—and is--symbolic of what was about to happen, it was also a time for Jesus to fellowship with those who had followed Him and been closest to him for the past three years. When we take Communion, we are also connecting with our Lord by receiving His spirit through the bread and the wine—or the body and the blood. We are joining with Christ in the completeness of His sacrifice; we live in Him, and He in us. John 6:56 better explains this:
*“He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in me, and I in him.” *
By that very statement, we are not alone if we have opted to accept his salvation and commune with him. Nor should we be. Here’s the thing: life is hard. There are a lot of things about life that are hard. Even following our Lord is no easy task—especially if we don’t know what that looks like or how to do it. That’s why we need each other. We are meant to be in community to support one another, to pray for one another, to get into the Word together, to love one another. If we don’t serve as life-giving community to one another, it can become really easy to drift away, as we lose sight of who God is (1 John 4:8—love) and what love is.
As hard as it is for me to admit it, the fact is, I need people in my life to show me these things and keep me accountable. And you know what? So do you. That’s okay, and it’s actually really beautiful. After all, how can we do what God commands us to do if we have no one to practice it with?
Calm down, introverts, you can still have some of your alone time. In fact, alone time is also good for recharging and getting to know you better. I know, fellow extroverts--it's foreign to me, too. However, when you spend all your time alone, disguised as recharging or independence, you’re actually isolating yourself—and that can be dangerous. That is from the enemy. But when you allow yourself to be part of a community, you never know what will happen. In my experience, it’s always been a beautifully pleasant blessing.
I would challenge you to find a community that speaks spirit-filled life into you. One of the best things to ever happen to me has been to gain a family of brothers and sisters in Christ. I’ve seen God do some amazing work when we all come together. I feel confident you will, too.