and next to them

I want to do it my way.  I don’t need others help. I can rebuild my life and recover in my own strength. To admit that I need help is a sign of weakness. That I am just like them.

No, I am better than that. I will continue to hold on to that pride and resist any exposure and vulnerability to others lest I be considered weak and incapable.

Are you like this too?

Do you journey closely with other flawed failures?

Or do you hold up the mask, and pretend perfection?

Maybe its a combination of letting some people in only so far but not all the way. Best be safe, and there is wisdom in this. Not everyone out there is safe for connection.

There is however a need for the awareness that we are all in this rebuilding/ recovery/ life journey together.

The knowing of acceptance and common purpose leap frogs over rugged individualism. Yes, everyone has their own personal journey that they are responsible for, but perhaps there is also a community responsibility for each other.

This is what we find in our ongoing walk through a book in the Bible called Nehemiah. In chapter three we find the people of Jerusalem starting to rebuild their city wall.

Jerusalem was naked, exposed and vulnerable. Much like a naked man in a ditch, robbed and raped of protection and identity, anyone could violate Jerusalem’ being.

The tangible presence of a wall gave the people something intangible. A sense of worth, value, belief in themselves, confidence and hope.

If we were to fly a little drone above the rebuilding of the wall we would find groups of people all working next to each other. The phrase ‘and next to them is actually mentioned 26 times in this chapter.

A ring of workers encompassing the fragile soul.

Recovery, rebuilding, and indeed life, is a ‘next to them’ project.

I think of the people I have supported, and also of myself, that having discovered a few safe others rebuilding alongside them that a momentum gained.

Words jumped in the heart ‘So you too’!

1+1 didn’t equal 2, but in the synergy gained it multiplied up to 3 or more.

I can imagine how on that ancient construction site there would have been a rhythm. Perhaps a song. Tools shared. Common purpose, language, and focus.

Do you have a place, a time, a few friends where you sense that closeness?

Recovery is an activity of community.

Mental health grows and flourishes when we have others around us on a similar journey. Where those next to you have similar bumps, bruises, scars and calluses.

It’s in isolation and individualism that we can so easily lose our way.

Are you open to hearing the voices of others who are on a similar journey. To hearing ‘Oh, so you too’?

Perhaps the best places are the ones which are not organisationally created. Where we are not in control.

Instead we open ourselves to allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us to those one, two or three fellow re-builders.

Yes, some organisations can be helpful, thinking of groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and its derivatives. Churches can also be places of rebuilding community. But these can only offer introductory experiences to the real thing of close community.

Closeness and camaraderie require vulnerability.

The challenge is to find the one or two people who you will be committed to and they to you for that ‘next to them’ experience.

I think of those various prayer partners I have had over the years.

Times when I was able to ‘Hold the Christ-light’ for them and they for me.

I will hold the Christ-light for you
In the night time of your fear.
I will hold my hand out to you;
Speak the peace you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping.
When you laugh, I’ll laugh with you.
I will share your joy and sorrow
Till we’ve seen this journey through.
Richard Gillard

I don’t believe God ever wants us to rebuild alone. They, God, know the joy of camaraderie and want us to experience it also.

Are you willing for them to join you with others on a similar course?

People like me need people like you and people like you need people like me. Mark Wilde

Quotes to consider

  • The person who loves their dream of community will destroy community, but the person who loves those around them will create community. Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • The race of mankind would perish did they cease to aid each other. We cannot exist without mutual help. Walter Scott
  • Reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived. Galatians 6:2

Questions to answer

  1. Why is rugged individualism so valued in our culture?
  2. Why is it hard to be vulnerable to a few others?
  3. What examples can you think of ‘camaraderie’ in your life?

Barry Pearman

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