“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12
As my blog’s url clearly shows, I am a peculiar fellow. I’ve been reminded of this by a realization I came to about myself today. It occurred to me that I am a former introvert, that God transformed into an extravert, that still tries to be a loner. Intellectually I understand that I cannot live life alone, yet still I find myself wanting to try it on my own.
The last few years God has really turned me into a people-person. I used to dislike the majority of people. Now I can’t get enough of them. Yet, even though I love people, and love spending time with them, I find I still have a tendency to try and make it on my own.
I think it is because I had let the worldly definition of strength seep into my thinking a little bit. Subconsciously, I had been thinking that if I help other people, that’s great, but if I need to turn to them, then that makes me weak. A hero-complex, of sorts: always needing to save the day, and being able to pick myself back up without anyone’s help. It is not that I am tremendously independent, I’m really not. It’s more that I’d been keeping my problems largely to myself.
I had gotten so caught up in being the mentor figure, the wise gent that gives advice, the pillar to lean against, that I’d forgotten that sometimes I need to be willing to be mentored, to seek advice, to lean against pillars that are stronger than I am. Recently I found that, like many guys, I have a desire to always be the leader. Sometimes I feel like I have to be the dominant one in every group. After all, there is a huge cultural emphasis on ‘standing out.’ I guess it is from that old insecurity that so many people have which makes them feel the need to prove themselves.
Lately I have been rediscovering the astounding treasure of brotherhood. God has been showing me that sometimes I do need to be the leader, but other times I need to cherish the fact that I have so many amazing people around me that I can turn to as equals, as brothers, without needing to teach them, or lead them. God’s been teaching me that I don’t always need to be the prominent person in every social circle. I am not meant to be.
I think so often we all get so trapped in proving ourselves that we forget to be ourselves. God has gifted each person very specifically, with their own personal blend of talents, passions, and spiritual gifts. I’ve been realizing that it is ridiculous to try to be the hero all of the time. I’ve been finally learning to stop trying to prove myself, to stop trying to be the best guy around, and to just learn to be the guy that God designed me to be.
I have also been learning that being the man that God has called me to be is not something I can do on my own. The same goes for everyone. Life, and especially following Jesus, are community actions. They cannot be fully carried out on their own. The only person that can always be the Pillar of Strength is God. He never intended for us to make it on our own.
I guess I’m finally learning to open myself up and admit that I am not a superhero, and that I need other people. There is something beautiful about vulnerability. Turning to other people about weaknesses is one of the most effective ways of overcoming them. These past few months I have received more compliments than are probably good for me, though one of the things that I have been reminded of through them is that I would be a very different person if I had not had been blessed by a myriad of wonderful people that invested in my life. I suppose the thing I have been learning is that I have to allow others to invest into me, otherwise I will have nothing to give those that come to me. One of the greatest convictions that God has given me is that: a good man is made great by the quality of his friends.