No Man is an Island
Rich Mullins, one of my favorite poets/prophets/musicians of all time, has a song titled ‘We Are Not as Strong as We Think We Are.’ Many of Rich’s songs have been part of my soundtrack during this cancer journey. In this song there is a line that says, “We are frail, we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Forged in the fires of human passion, choking on the fumes of selfish rage. With these our hells and our heavens so few inches apart we must be awfully small and not as strong as we think we are.” [Song Below]
Of course this flies in the face of what we are told by pop culture. The world tells us we can do anything! All on our own! We are great just as we are – self sufficient, all I need is me. As another brilliant and poetic wordsmith (cough cough), Katy Perry, sings in her song ‘Roar,’ “I went from zero to my own hero.” (For the record, I will admit I tend to jam to Katy’s music in the car from time to time.) But Christianity states something else – we are empty vessels with out the power, forgiveness, love, and grace of God in our lives – especially in the hard times.
And not only that, but we need people in our lives. We need family. Community. We were made for it. Built for it. We simply can’t lead a fulfilled life without it, no matter who we are. There is simply no substitute for a group of solid, trusted, dedicated people in your life to support, challenge, and encourage.
There have been so many that have embodied this support system for me over the last year. From childhood friends, high school friends, Louisville friends, YWAM friends, college friends, friends in the photography/wedding community, past clients of Honey Heart, church friends, and so many more. Our beloved families and our dear church Life Group shouldered much of the load and I will always be grateful especially to them. If I didn’t have this support I truly believe I would be a different person today. The darkness would have taken root and brought me further down, I truly believe. God used these beautiful people, some I don’t even know, to keep me above water. I’ll always be thankful.
“No man is an island…every man is a piece of the continent, part of the main…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” – John Donne
If we are truly our own hero, we will be either living constantly in the sad shadow of our own bloated ego, or we will be severely disappointed when we fail ourselves or someone else, or perhaps both. We can’t and never should be our own hero. We must be anchored and stabilized by something bigger and higher and fuller than ourselves – God and community.
To attempt to make spirituality a private affair is to reject part of our very nature and walk inside of a loneliness that God himself has damned. – Fr. Ronald Rolheiser
This has been one of the main lessons I’ve learned. I am weak, frail, selfish without the grace of God in my life. I am only strong through Him and through those around me. It’s Christ who gives me strength. It certainly doesn’t come from me alone. It’s through Him and the people He sends us to help that we can spring fresh with joy and vibrant life. The thief’s purpose is to kill and steal and destroy. My purpose is to give a rich and satisfying life. John 10:10
Below is a beautiful song by Leon Bridges called ‘The River.’ Baptism is a beautiful and powerful demonstration of what has transpired in our lives through God’s forgiveness and Christ’s atonement. Jesus was baptized in the same river that Joshua crossed to enter Canaan – the Promised Land – the beautiful land God set aside for his people.
Christian baptism enables us to cross another river of sorts – the river separating the lands of sin and the land of grace – another land God has set aside for his people – the ideal place God’s beloved people will dwell – the New Promised Land. But crossing this river is not just a one-time event. And it’s not just an individual act. Every day we must choose to wash ourselves by crossing that river – and in effect bathe ourselves in His forgiveness and grace. It’s a journey. And we need others to help us along this journey. Thankfully our Father is still there to take us back and wash us white as snow once again.