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3 Reasons Why We Need Others

David Robbins
3 Reasons Why We Need Others

A few years ago, Forbes released a list of the top 25 cities for new college graduates to live in.

There were a few surprising entries, but one thing stood out to me (only partially tainted by the fact that I lived there at the time): five of the 25 “cities” were within the New York City metropolitan area. Queens, Brooklyn, and even Jersey City at no. 5 (who knew!) held their own spots on the list.

Although NYC is not the center of the universe like some of us may like to believe, it is a place that shapes culture in significant ways.

And the many young adults there already have a significant platform to steward — that will certainly only increase — toward the renewal of all things. I pray often that the incoming generation in New York would be a group of people, like what Scripture says about the people of Thessalonica, whose faith is someday known around the globe.

The City as a Refining Force

The reality, however, is that New York City is a place that refines faith and surfaces what truly exists. Even if you don’t live in New York, perhaps you’ve experienced the same in your city. It can expose doubts in things you never imagined you would question. It can also expose sin that lies way beneath the surface that you never thought would work its way out.

But what if this is all actually a really good thing?

What if the refining process we encounter in the city actually leads to a wholeness of faith that is rarely seen?

What if it didn’t cause you to retreat but actually enabled you to express something authentic that the world can’t ignore?

A grounded wholeness that is rarely fleshed out for the world to see. A seamless integrity throughout work, friendships, relationships, going out and all of life that evokes mystery as people brush up against it day to day. An undivided life willing to face the dark side inside by centering itself to listen to God’s Spirit, whom He placed inside of you. And a God-given freedom to be raw and honest because you have nothing to prove under the security of being the beloved of Jesus.

The Consequences of a Divided Life

This sounds good, and I yearn to be whole, but dividedness often seems easier. It is so much easier to default to a different narrative.

The divided life often ends up looking like this:

  • You harbor secrets to achieve personal gain at the expense of other people.
  • You remain in settings or relationships that steadily kill off your spirit.
  • You hide your beliefs from those who disagree with you to avoid conflict, challenge and change.
  • You conceal your true identity for fear of being criticized, shunned or attacked.
  • You refuse to invest yourself in your work, diminishing its quality and distancing yourself from those it is meant to serve.
  • You make your living at a job that violates your basic values, even when survival does not absolutely demand it.
  • You feel fraudulent, even invisible, because you are not in the world as who you really are.
  • You deny your inner darkness, giving it more power over you.
  • Your inauthenticity and projections make real relationships impossible, leading to loneliness.

Why You Shouldn’t Travel the Path to Wholeness Alone

Even though it’s overwhelming, you are not stuck. The journey toward experiencing wholeness rooted deeply in Jesus may not always be an easy one, but it’s one God has promised He will be faithful to complete.

And I am more convinced than ever, if you are going to faithfully pursue wholeness in the city context, you will need others on the journey.

I am continuing to learn that there are three reasons why taking the risk (again and again) to travel beneath the surface with others is worth it:

  1. The journey toward inner truth is too taxing to make solo. Lacking support, the solitary traveler soon becomes weary or fearful and is likely to quit the road.

  2. The path is too deeply hidden to be traveled without company. Finding your way involves clues that are subtle and sometimes misleading, requiring the kind of discernment that can often only happen in dialogue.

  3. The destination is too daunting to be achieved alone. You need community to find the courage to venture into the alien lands to which the inner teacher may call us.

The bottom line is we all need other people to help us invite, amplify and discern the Spirit’s voice that invites us into wholeness.

Wholeness Requires Vulnerability With Trusted People

Choosing wholeness turns out to be risky business, making you vulnerable in ways you would prefer to avoid.  

But you cannot embrace this challenge all alone; at least, not for long. You need trustworthy relationships, tenacious communities of support, if you are to sustain the journey toward an undivided life.

As Parker Palmer says, “The journey has solitary passages, to be sure, and yet it is simply too arduous to take without the assistance of others.”  

And for me, the motivation comes from just enough self-awareness. We have such a vast capacity for self-delusion, we will inevitably get lost en route without input and correctives from outside of ourselves.

Next Steps:

Originally posted on Flourishing City, the blog for Cru's city ministry in New York. Used with permission.

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