A while ago I was watching a nature programme on tv and I noticed that there were lots of females but only a couple of males lions in each pride. Have you ever noticed this? This is because at the age of adulthood male lions are kicked out of the herd and forced to live on their own. The result is that only 1 in 8 survive.
Lions, famous for being strong predators, powerful and ferocious, when isolated become vulnerable and weak. Most lions never survive the wilderness.
In Genesis 2:15 it says: “It is not good for the man to be alone.’
This verse is found at the end of the story of creation. God creates frogs and turtles and stones and other amazing things and he says that they are good. But as he looks at the world something is not good. ‘It is not good for man to be alone.’
Notice, that this all takes place before the fall. There has been no sin, no disobedience, no rebellion. There is no substitute, not even God, that will fill the hole inside us that longs for connection with other people. You were created for connection.
What is fascinating is that connection has nothing to do with the number of people who are around you. Connection is all quality and not quantity. We need the right kind of connections. Think about it, Millennials are the most connected generation and yet statistically, they are the most likely to feel extreme loneliness and disconection.
Brain scans have shown that ‘social pain’, such as feeling rejected by people, activates the same region of your brain ( the dorsal anterior cingulate) as bodily trauma. In other words when we feel disconnected from people, it hurts like being hit in the face. So, who do you allow to really know you?
The one lion that will survive will only survive when they find a family. To find a new pride, they must survive the fight.
You see there is a fight between you and the family you need.
1. Fight your inner critic
‘Everyone knows each other and I don’t,’
‘No one cares about me,’
‘no one even noticed that I left,’
‘I don’t belong here.’
When we experience these kinds of thoughts we become hyperaware of ourselves and we over-analyse every interaction. This makes our own thinking more self-centred, bitter and distant. Our feelings of insecurity and rejection, cause a barrier between us and others which creates self-fulfilling prophecy.
Just because you thought it doesn’t mean you have to agree with it. So often we talk ourselves out of stuff, learn to talk yourself into community.
2. Fight busyness and dead end pursuits.
We prioritise what matters to us – career, place to live, our stuff, our quiet times, etc. We make things important but when it comes to our time, we make people of secondary importance. You can always meet new people, make new friends, join a small group. These things are expendable and replaceable. When it comes to relationships most of us are mercenaries. You need to prioritise connection. It isn’t about who you click with but who you stick with.
Often we look at heroes and pioneers and see people who take a stand and stand out from the crowd. There is a myth that they stood alone and battled the odds. We miss the fact that there is always a group of people who fight alongside them, quietly, faithfully, consistently. Standing alone is not a sign of strength but weakness.
3. Fight against comfortable, neat cliquey ideas of community.
We have watched too many episodes of friends and we think that community is surrounding ourselves with people who are exactly like us.
But this is not the kind of community that Jesus modelled. We need to fight against comfy, cliquey communities. Jesus shared food with Judas, who would betray him. He washed his feet.
Authentic community is the place where the person you least want to live with sits next to you and you are both totally welcome and accepted.Painful moments and difficult people are what will pull us closest together.
Too often we pull away from difficult people because we long for happiness. However, it is not happiness that is missing from you, it is deep, authentic and real relationships. Your greatest future is found in your deepest relationships.
Never forget, the danger of isolation is much greater than the risk of family.