Individuality vs. Community

What a brilliant Creator we must have! Even apart from the intricacies that determine the workings of our universe, or the complexities of our own solar system, or even the delicate placement of this rock we call Earth that allows for the existence of life, even if we just look at the lives of us homo sapiens, I can’t help but think that we have a brilliant Creator.

I say this because lately I’ve become almost hyper-aware of the similarities we share as part of this human condition. Incredibly, about 99.9% of any one person’s DNA is identical to any other person’s. But that’s not really what’s got my attention. What truly amazes me are the experiences that we all share. 

You know the sort of things that I’m talking about. The joy and excitement of achievement. The wonder of holding a baby and imagining its potential. The fear of failure. The one that got away. (That one’s a real doozy, seeing as it’s happened to me with both girls and fish.) The way that hearing laughter can somehow chase away fear or pain. The way that pain can somehow drown out everything else around us. The loss of someone close to us – a friend, a family member, or even a pet – and wondering how we can continue living without them. The moment you know that the woman you’re with is the woman you want to build your life with. The moment you realize you’re thankful that “the one that got away” got away. (The girl of course, not the fish.) The times when you meet a new friend and it feels like you’ve known each other your whole lives.

We share these things. Sometimes we share them at the same time. Sometimes we go through these things together. Other times, we experience them at different times along our journey. And there’s beauty in both of these things. There’s a bond that’s created among friends who share in these experiences. And there’s hope to be offered by people in our lives who’ve experienced life’s hardships before we do and know that life gets better.

I’m writing about this because I think that we’re making a grave mistake as a culture, as a society. We hear it from all sides, the notion that our individuality should define us. And while it’s true that we are all individuals, that we all have things that are original and organic and wholly ours, I don’t believe that those things should be the extent of our existence. And while I believe that these things should be celebrated, I don’t believe we should ever allow them to cause a tear in the fabric that binds us together.

I believe that our Creator designed us for relationships. For communication. For communion. For community. I believe that there is danger when we lose sight of this.

Sometimes I do lose sight of this. In fact, most times I do. I forget that my life can’t be complete without a real relationship with my Creator. I also forget that my life can’t be complete without other people. Without other people to share my experiences with. Without people to offer hope when I’m experiencing something they’ve survived. Without offering hope to someone struggling with something I’ve survived.

So my challenge to you, dear reader, is that today you’d live life as it’s intended to be lived. Surrounded by people who support you. In relationships that strengthen you. Share your life with others. Allow your life to contribute to someone else’s success. Live life today both benefiting from and contributing to community.

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