Steady in the Storm, Chapter Eleven: Support of a Village
“Not only do we place a high value on independence in western culture, we thrive on it. We take pride in all the ways we don’t need each other. We go it alone and feel accomplished in our ways. … We are missing out, not only on the blessings and joy that come from community, but the strength of community when we are hurting and in dark places.”
I never thought I was taking going to the grocery store for granted, but apparently I was. I was in conversation with someone the other day about how we feel ‘unwanted’ when we go pretty well anywhere these days. Yes, businesses what our business, but there is a sense that no one wants you around, you’re dangerous, you’re carrying a virus that can kill them. The joy of running errands is now gone, and yes I’m one of those sick people who find joy in going from store to store, checking off my list. Similarly, my husband and I went to grab a bite, but when we walked into the restaurant, all the tables and chairs were stacked in the corner. It gave the immediate impression we weren’t wanted in there. We ended up ordering take out, but the feeling of ‘get out’ was more prevalent.
In my book I talk about the importance of the village. I relate it back to my trip to Kenya, when I got to see what it was like to truly live in community, to rely on one another for food, nursing, child care and friendship. It was the most beautiful form of community I have ever seen in my life. When people grow up in a village together, they are truly reaping the benefits of why we were created.
Our western culture has been elevating the importance of independence and self-reliance for a very long time. We pride ourselves in our ability to not need one another. We can take care of ourselves. Even the most independent person, however, will still admit they like the buzz of a city, the chatter of a coffee shop or the connectivity of a crowd. We long for a tribe. We long for community and our place within it. COVID has highlighted that even the smallest and most un-meaningful forms of community, like going to a grocery store, have now been tainted. It has left a crater of loneliness in our society.
Our communities have been broken from the deepest form of churches, family gatherings, school friends, neighbours to the most mundane and surface form of community, ability to share friendly banter in the grocery store. I ask you, how on earth are we expected to get through this, or anything, if we don’t have our communities?
In my book I talk about how I could not have gotten through my husband’s relapse without my community. Like Moses and the battle against the Amalekites. God told Moses, so long as his hands were raised above his head, they would win the battle. But Moses is a man, and keeping your arms above your head is tough, so Aaron and Hur placed rocks beside Moses, stat on them and held his arms up for him. God didn’t smite them for helping Moses, there wasn’t a clause saying they would lose if Moses had help, but Moses did need help, and his community was there in the moment of need.
Being in a tough place is tough. It’s extremely hard to remain strong. We can’t do it alone, we need each other to prop our arms up when we don’t have the strength to raise them ourselves. We need each other for encouragement when we’ve lost our way and motivation. We need each other to call us out when we are veering from our path and headed towards self-destruction. We need each other to laugh with, cry with and converse with. We need people we agree with and disagree with so we can properly shape our opinions and thoughts.
The culture we are creating right now is extremely dangerous. To separate, divide and isolate will cause damage far more dangerous than a virus.
I have to say, I’m really struggling lately. It just feels like there is no one around. No one to lean on, no one to hold my arms up in this battle. We have all chosen our COVID bubbles and our bubbles are where we are staying. Soon, this will become the normal if we allow it. We will value our fear of the virus more than the people who will help us get through it, and when hard time strike, where will the community be?
We will need each other then and we need each other now. What battle are you fighting where you just can’t hold your arms up any more. Who is there to help brace them?