No Man Is an Island
- Thursday, December 02, 2010
I still remember a college graduation card I received with the following quote on the front.
No man is an island, entire of itself. Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.
— John Donne
At the time, I was surrounded by a fraternity of friends and I never gave the passage much thought. However, over the years I have come across this quotation at different seasons in my life and it challenges me to evaluate whether I am solidly plugged into and part of a larger community of friends and believers or if I have broken off from the mass becoming separated from others, an island unto myself.
As a single who has been one a lot longer than planned or expected, I find it easy to remove myself from community and to have selective fellowship, even more so since I travel and find myself on the road for the better part of every week. I can easily justify coming home and using those limited hours for "me" time.
However, over the years, I have found it isn't healthy emotionally nor spiritually to live a life detached from a body of believers or disengaged from people. I can be in the midst of a relationship(s) or within a group yet still find myself disconnected from others and my surroundings.
Mitch Albom, in his book Have a Little Faith, says it this way, "You can touch everything and be connected to nothing."
When we separate ourselves from people, be it family, friends or community, we place ourselves in danger and will soon find ourselves inaccessible, unsupported and unaccountable.
I recently heard about a friend's husband who alienated himself from his church community, segregated himself from his family and was isolated in a virtual reality of internet and video games. Not having an accountability or support system in place, he walked away from his two-year marriage and his job, and sought a new life unto himself.
It was very much of an Eat, Pray, Love epiphany (best-selling book and popular movie about a confused woman who divorces her husband after having an affair and discovers a new life through food, spiritual enlightenment and another man).
When we focus too much of our time and attention on our own wants, desires, needs and "happiness" apart from others, we oftentimes pull away (consciously or unconsciously) from those around us and make ill-advised decisions in order to achieve them, including walking away from God, much as Saul did (1 Samuel).
Even in the reality show, Survivor, where the purpose is to "outwit, outplay, outlast" the other players and be the final person on the island, contestants find they cannot "stay alive" without making at least a couple of alliances with people they trust. They require the skills, life experiences, strengths, encouragement and support from others in order to succeed, and we do too.
God did not create us to live a life of isolation.
The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone" (Genesis 2:18).
Recently, I received an opportunity to literally experience first-hand what being on an island is like when I relocated to one for work. I came to discover I not only missed the culture I was raised in, the familiarity of my surroundings and the ease of doing business, but also felt the isolation and support from longtime friends, family and church.
We were created for community with others and for others. God knew we would not function well by ourselves and encourages us to do otherwise.
Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25).
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