3 Ways We’re Stronger in Community
By: Victoria Riollano
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” - Genesis 2:18
Many people don’t believe it when I tell them that I used to be a loner. In fact, the word “loner” is far from an accurate description of the level of introversion, shyness, and hiddenness that once enveloped my life. In my quiet time, there was safety. This was the judgment-free zone. One where I could sing as loud as I choose, watch what I wanted to watch, and think as I chose, with no one to tell me otherwise. Alone and hidden, I could think deeper and express myself with no outsiders looking in.
This way of life would change radically when my husband joined the military. Suddenly, I was thrust into a community of people, but no family or friends. Only months into our first duty station with three children under 4, it was clear if I didn’t “put myself out there,” no one would even know I existed. Within weeks of staying trapped in my home, I could sense a deep depression coming over me. It wasn’t long before I started to take my children to the park each day, in hopes of finding other moms to connect with.
Within a year, I had turned into a social butterfly, attending many events, coordinating moms’ outings, and serving in leadership at the local church. I realized I adored being in the company of others. I was stronger within a community. Though I still enjoy and need my time to recover from large amounts of social interaction, I found that there was nothing wrong with spending time with others. Even to this day, my military family has become one whom I can confide and count on for moral and tangible support. I would venture to say that many obstacles and trials have been resolved from just being connected to a group of others. If I’m honest, I pray to never return the person who was comfortable with complete isolation. I need people.
The truth is, this idea of community is not a new one. We see that the first time God disapproves of anything is found early in the Bible.
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18
In other words, though Adam could have communed with God and the animals, it was not enough. Without others, it's quite possible he would have still felt lonely with no one to relate to. Here’s the thing, it's not just about not being alone. There is power found within the context of togetherness.
1. Community Help
One of the most interesting things about the early church was the sense of community. Everyone came together, sharing all they had, to ensure no one suffered (Acts 2:42-47). I can relate to this personally as I received a flood of support last year during the government shutdown. When hearing of my need, friends and different churches gathered to ensure we were never hungry and our children had all that they needed. You can read the full testimony here.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” is a famously quoted Bible verse concerning friendship. When it comes to this verse, the key here is that “iron sharpening iron” would not be a pleasant experience. Much like the clanging of pots together or the screeching of fingers on a chalkboard, the sound and experience would be one of discomfort. However, the more the iron comes together and rubs off on each other the sharper and shinier it will appear. Thus, the discomfort is minuscule compared to the outcome. When we choose to find those who can correct us and speak life into us, we will find friendships that honor God. We won’t have to make decisions alone but can depend on others to have our best interest in mind.
Recently, my husband preached a message on being “battle-ready.” One key thing he spoke on was the essence of having others with you in times of battle. In his words, “it's hard to fight and win a battle alone.” It is highly unlikely you will ever hear of a battle in history or in the future that wasn’t won with a community of people with the same vision and mission. In other words, no battle is won alone.
Today, I challenge you to consider your friendships. If you’ve found yourself in a place of isolation, ask the Lord to highlight who He’s put in your life who can add value and depth. My prayer for you is that the Lord brings you friends who can help you get even closer to your God-given destiny! Rather than be content with loneliness, make a choice to belong.
Victoria Riollano is an author, blogger, and speaker. As a mother of six, military spouse, Psychology professor and minister’s wife, Victoria has learned the art of balancing family and accomplishing God’s ultimate purpose for her life. Recently, Victoria released her book, The Victory Walk: A 21 Day Devotional on Living A Victorious Life. Her ultimate desire is to empower women to live a life of victory, hope, and love. She believes that with Christ we can live a life that is ALWAYS winning. You can learn more about her ministry at victoryspeaks.org.