“Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”
“Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.”
Community. Recently, the idea of community has be lingering in my head. The other day, I just finished my book No More Mr. Nice Guy, which emphasizes that overcoming the “Nice Guy Syndrome” requires opening oneself up to a safe person. This ideology conflicted with mine because for the longest time, I had this belief that whenever I encountered a problem, I had to handle it myself. From childhood, I had this belief that in order for me to grow, I had to take care of it. If I let someone else help me out, I missed out on a vital learning experience. So as life grew tougher and problems weren’t so easy to solve on my own, I still would keep them to myself in efforts to solve them myself. By then, I came to this reaction that my problems were my problems and no one else cared to solve them. So the idea that I needed to ask someone else to help me out did not seem right. Even though I felt I had to challenge problems on my own, I still felt the greatest desire to have someone help me out, but my own theory on how problems should be handled was distorted.
Lately, God has been making efforts to obliterate that unhealthy paradigm, efforts that were subtle, others that were direct, some that left me in tears, and more that made me smile. Last week I sat in my philosophy class dumbfounded by the conversation flying around me. Entering philosophy, you hold a set of beliefs, and mine was being challenged. Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t upset by that. Actually I love the challenge because I’m a thinker, but for some reason, I couldn’t come to any sort of conclusion incorporating new information into my beliefs and kicking out what I thought was wrong. With all the “community” running through my mind recently though, I realized that questions need to be asked. I had an “information overload,” and I needed to ask some questions, not so much about philosophy but primarily other questions that have been sitting on my chest for years. And the first question I could think of.. “What is the importance of community?”
Once I thought up this question, I sent it out to two guys that I look up to but rarely see. My friend back home said, “I think being in a community of quality relationships is one of the healthiest things for any person.” I’ve always understood that community is good, but maybe I underestimated it. I’ve been so set on my personal independence that I ruled out accepting help from someone else. So I asked him when does one decide they want help, and his response was, “when you can’t do something or if you’re having trouble figuring something out.” After more inquiry and an explanation of my adamant independence, he explained to me that “being adamant doesn’t help if you don’t have the right tools for the job. If you’re truly adamant about fixing, don’t let pride or fear get in the way, cuz your goal should be to fix the problem at any cost.” This is where I truly paused. I pondered about it a little and realized that I’ve been trying to do something ill-equipped. I’m trying to hammer a nail with a potato. It’s not how a task should be done.
The other friend I asked the question responded with a similar question about asking for help. He graduated a Biblical Studies major and is now interning a church that is starting up in Orange County. So I could count on him for a Biblical answer that wouldn’t overlook the most important aspect, God. His response about asking for help convicted me in itself: “Most any struggle or experience should be shared if you have ANY conviction from the holy spirit that you should do so. It comes down to whether or not you are convicted that you need to share. Can you no longer bear this burden alone? Or do you need help?” There are definitely those things that could easily carry on a good conversation, but I choose not to ask.
Ultimately, I realized the importance of community. Situations arise in our lives that we cannot and are meant not to handle alone. Overcoming and changing unhealthy paradigms will consist of help from another person. Whether its encouragement or strengthening, its a near requirement for the desired outcome to happen. It is far too easy to fall back on old habits when there is no encouragement or external reminder to keep going. So that’s one of my goals. Participate in community by sharing myself with others and allowing them to bear some of the weight of my burdens because jeepers, this load can get heavy.