Our country values the myth of the “rugged individualist”. We are enamored with the resolve of one person to succeed in the midst of adversity. We have been socialized through cultural influences to believe that we, too, must be a rugged individualist. In fact, popular culture perpetuates the message that you are the most important person in the world- “this Bud’s for you”. You can do it!
When it comes to thriving in change and creating a life you love, it has to be accomplished with others. Comrades. Amigos. Family. Because the fact of the matter is, none of us is as smart as all of us. Community works.
If we want to strengthen our resilience, our thriveability, we can’t go it alone. We must rely on our relational resources.
- Our social networks. Given the technology that was available back in the 1960’s, it was suggested we were six degrees removed from anybody else on the planet. Remember the game “six degrees of Kevin Bacon”? It meant that between you and anyone else on the planet there were only five other people. Find the right people and you could meet anyone. With today’s technology that separation is now three degrees. Two other people are needed to meet anyone else in the entire world. My wife and I discovered fairly quickly that we are three degrees removed from Barak Obama in two ways (punchline here). So, your social networks can help you to not go it alone. There is understandable caution on digital relationships, but the collective hive can often provide resources you are looking for.
- Our intimate bonds. Let me ask a question: “how do you know who you are?” Really, how do you know?. I would answer by stating we know who we are only because we are in close relationships with other people. Our closest friends and allies are those who know us well, who have helped define us, and keep us honest when we deviate from that identity. They reflect back to us the core elements, good and bad, of what makes us, us. When I was at a very low point in my life, my counselor told me to give people the honor of ministering to me. Though it went against my “rugged individualist” nurturing, I humbly relied on a select few, intimate friendships to help move through the tough time. I thank God for them everyday.
What might keep us from close relationships? Is there anything practical we can do to nurture the relationships we have? I’d love your comments