“Two are better than one, because they can reap more benefit from their labor.” Ecclesiastes 4:9
My mother once told a friend that I was “born independent.” She was not complimenting this independent streak but mourning that I did not depend on her as much as she would have liked. My family culture and community is non-Western; it is more communal. Independence is not necessarily the highest of virtues. However, my independent personality helped me fit right in with American culture.
Reflecting on the verse in Ecclesiastes, the words “partnership”, “community” and “healthy dependence” burst forward. My independent personality cringes and wants to pull back from these thoughts because partnerships, communities and dependence get messy – often going differently than preferred. To partner means letting go of control. (Insert low growl.)
Recently, I was reading a book about the desperation that many mothers feel, especially mothers of young children. (For more information about this book click here).
As a young mother, I am familiar with the feelings of desperation that this time can create. The desperation of so many young moms stems from feelings of isolation and loneliness. Some of this is inevitable and yet we must also recognize the systemic cultural pressures that exalt rugged individualism to the status of an idol.
We pride ourselves on not being “needy” and in the meantime we drown in isolation and depression. The last thing a young mom needs is isolation and yet that is often what they have … and it is applauded.
It is time for the applause to die. We are called to a dependence on God and a dependence on one another. To need another and to need a community is not a weakness, it is a reality. I am tired of independence being applauded and dependence seen as weakness.
I am blessed to live in a neighborhood and community with many young families and moms that are intentional about knowing one another, knowing each other’s children and speaking into one another’s lives. Quite a few of these women love Jesus, pursue Him and pursue teaching our kids about Him.
As I study and meditate on this verse, our neighborhood community serves as the perfect place of application. We work and struggle to raise our children well, but if this verse is true, what greater rewards will we realize from doing it in community. Our theology is sharpened, our parenting is honed, our creativity increases and we nourish one another as we share the load.
We labor, struggle, and toil together, while simultaneously ministering to one another, caring for one another, challenging one another and encouraging one another. We share our heartaches and our deep joys! We live out this calling of being a mom together and there is the potential and hope that we will reap benefits because we partner.
This is but one area relevant in my life. What would it be in yours?
With all this said, I still struggle. I need a humble, discerning and bold heart to partner with others. I also need to be part of a community that will speak truth in love to me, as well as receive it. The defenses have to go down and that is so hard!
My home culture was non-Western and, as much as I love being independent, I am being brought back to the value of community, the value of intentional relationship, the value of the village. I still struggle with pride in regards to independence and understand that there is good that can come from doing something on your own, but not everything is good on your own.
My prayer is in whatever God is calling you to, you would consider what it is like to involve others, allow them to speak into your life (warning: this requires humility, a soft heart and discernment) and care enough to speak truth in love into their lives. In so living, may we reap benefits that outweigh what we will ever see on our own.