I was born in 1969 and unlike anything I have experienced since my birth, the last few months have brought home to me the need for community. Man was never meant to live alone. And I know that when we think about being alone, we first look to romantic relationships as the antidote; but the truth is that even though romantic relationships are a good and essential expression of our humanity, it is possible to be in a romantic relationship and still feel alone.
Two people in a marriage unit can experience a sense of isolation and aloneness that the presence of a partner does not alleviate. My wife and I are very happily married but sometimes we need interaction with other people, with other couples even though they have each other.
For me the irony of this pandemic, is the fact that we need to keep a distance from other people in order to prevent the spread of the virus, but our need to interact with other people is a critical expression of our humanity. That need for social distancing as it is called has highlighted our need for community.
We are wired for community and for relationships. Our creator did not intend for us to undertake the journey of life alone, while we all strive for independence on some level our humanity craves are interdependence. One person does not have everything he needs to fulfil destiny and to achieve purpose, we need each other. And when we accept that need and are intentional in building that community our potential to succeed in life increase exponentially, because we are accessing resources beyond the limitations of our individual resources, we are accessing knowledge and experience beyond the limitations of our knowledge and our experience.
There are attitudes that I believe help us build and maintain relationships. The first is Selflessness, which simply means I am thinking a little bit less about me and a little bit more about you. The second attitude that I think we need for community is humility. Humility comes from realisation and acceptance that I’m not the centre of the universe, and that your needs are just as important as mine. And that no matter what your socio-economic status, I can learn from you and your presence adds to me.
The third thing we need to build community is love. We tend to think of love as a feeling, but the truth is love is an action. One of the biggest destroyers of community is emotional insecurity. Insecurity is a state of mind that is driven by fear. The fear of rejection, and sometimes the fear of exposure. The fear that I will not be accepted for who I am and the fear that the truth about who I am will be discovered. But Love shifts our focus from ourselves to others. If I was standing here thinking of what you thought of my shirt, I would have something to be afraid of; But the moment I start thinking about how much God loves me and loves you and how do I show that love to you, the fear goes away.
There is an old Zambian proverb that says if you run alone, you can run fast; but when we run together, we can run far. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.
By Femi Omotayo, Senior Pastor of New Covenant House Dallas and Member of the Cinnamon Network International Leadership Council.
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