“No man is an island, no man stands alone
Each man’s joy is joy to me; each man’s grief my own
We need one another, so I will defend.
Each man as my brother, each man as my friend.”
As a freshman in high school, I learned that no man is an island. Literally. As an assignment for English, we had to find a quote that we would apply to our lives and memorize it.
Ironically enough, I had lived most of my life as an island. Believe it or not, I was a loner. And I enjoyed it.
Don’t get me wrong, I had a few good friends. Some of them I even opted to stay overnight at their homes. There was Michelle whose mama would always fix us scrambled eggs and brains for breakfast. That was a good meal for two girls who had stayed up in the wee hours of the morning swooning over Donny Osmond and singing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” over and over. There
was also my friend, Lisa. She was also distantly related to me so visiting her house was being with family which was a plus. Although she was my closest friend growing up, Lisa also had a big material plus for me. Her family owned an entire set of World Book encyclopedias and current
Childcraft books to go along with them. We would spend hours learning about exotic destinations we wanted to visit, people from history we had never heard of or explanations of words we were also learning how to pronounce. I can’t recall every actually making anything from any of the
Childcraft books, but the possibilities were limitless and oh, so exciting to me.
Although I don’t really think they did it intentionally, my parents were the root cause of my almost hermit-like life. As best they could and with the limited resources we had, Mama and Daddy made our home a castle. I had my own TV in my room from almost birth, hooked up with what we considered cable at that time (which was probably 13 or so channels). I always had
some sort of snacks available – Hostess cakes and Moon pies were constants – which I blame for my problems with blood sugar as an adult. Mama loved to play board games and cards with me. I was probably one of the only kids at East Corinth Elementary School who could play a mean game of canasta.
Almost every Friday afternoon after school, Mama would take me to the Corinth Library and allow me to bring home every book I could carry. With her, no subject was taboo. I would often read all day long on Saturday and after both Sunday church services as well as when homework was done during the week.
Although they would allow me to stay at Michelle’s house or Lisa’s house overnight, they really preferred when I would opt to spend most of my time at home in my room. They really didn’t mind me having friends over, either, but would like it better if I would choose to spend the weekends with them. We weren’t a mushy family who said “I love you” very often, but
I honestly grew up knowing they cared very much for me and were concerned about my whereabouts. I guess it was their way of keeping a slight control on what entered – or didn’t enter – my environment.
There are times in my life now when I could still become a hermit. Given the fact that those I feel closest to (and care most about) and I are somewhat geographically challenged, it often makes spending quality time on the Internet and cell phone my reality. I know that I need personal contact from time to time and try to make sure I get it. But it’s still difficult.
I guess that’s why the sermon during Sunday Night Live at my church this week spoke so much to me. Dr. Andrew J. Willis from Houston, Texas, talked about the power of U2. Not the rock band, mind you, but U-squared! (I didn’t take time to search through my keystrokes to find the shortcut for that mathematical item!). Here are the highlights I wrote down from his sermon – some things, I thought, went hand-in-hand with the last blog item I had posted. Ironically I’d written it that very afternoon.
· Some add to and take away. Others come into your life and multiply their positive affects on your life.
· As a believer, you need a Paul pouring into your life and a Timothy into which you are pouring. (I’m almost certain who my Timothy is. I’m just a bit hazy on the Paul. I have an idea; I’m just waiting to see if they figure it out!).
· You are called to be the salt of the Earth, to sprinkle all you touch. If you’re too full of the thing you’re supposed to be releasing, it’s backfiring on you.
· You were made to be connected to the God who created you and you will never be complete until you make that connection. (I made the connection a long time ago and keep attempting to make it stronger and stronger).
· It’s not nearly as transformative to connect with people who understand you as it is with people who challenge you. Nothing will work like being accessible to your peers. Anyone can understand you, but not anyone can withstand you. (I have recently reconnected with a few folks who I truly believe, in time, are going to challenge me for the good. Not to mention the folks who have been around and are going to step up into this role eventually I just hope they can stand it – and withstand me!!)
· Accountability doesn’t work vertically. It only works horizontally. You have to find someone you can be honest with because if you’re not, you’re not honest with yourself. But don’t be transparent with everybody. You have to find someone you can be honest with without fear of being judged. Find someone who will demand accountability from you and demand you keep your integrity. (My best friend, Mandi, does a great job of keeping me accountable. But it’s a huge task and she probably needs some help from time to time. I can think of a couple of other people in my life who I think will someday soon fill that role as well. A couple of them, I have no doubt, won’t harshly judge me either. I do have the problem, though, of being way too transparent! I’m trying to learn that even though there are folks in my life who need to know I care about them, not everyone needs to know my personal business. And if I keep freely giving away so much of my heart, I’m not gonna have much left).
· Resistance is what makes you stronger. Don’t keep praying hell out of your life – stand up and take it! (This one kind of scares me. Having a little hell in my life scares me. But I do need to learn to be stronger and not back down or give into pressure so easily. Seven of Nine on Star Trek Voyager – yep, I’m a slight geek at times – said resistance was futile. I guess it’s all in what you’re resisting, though!).
· Who do you answer to? Accountability is the good kind of resistance that makes you stronger. (Being more accountable for my words and actions are two things I intend to work on for now. Those folks who are supposed to step up can start working any time!).