10/09/2017

Brandon Leitnaker

While watching a television show the other day, I heard a statement made by the main character that got me thinking. The main character, who is notoriously known as being highly dysfunctional in many areas of life, is exceptionally dysfunctional in the area of relationships. This individual’s view on relationships is pretty flip, and feels they lack any sort of purpose outside of being a means to an end. Many hours of this character’s life are spent in isolation, cut off from the outside world. When questioned by the only real friend this individual has, he responded that he is trying to “create a world that is actually worth living in.”

Upon hearing this statement, my heart responded in several different ways. First, I felt compassion for any individuals who have ever felt similarly about relationships. I know there are people in the world, and even in our very own church, who live lives of loneliness or isolation. This breaks my heart because we were not designed to live a life without relationships. I realize it might be personality, disabilities, or illness that can sometimes lead to these views. I am sympathetic to those things because they can be major contributors to how individuals interact with the world around them. My own experience pales in comparison to how those things can affect one’s ability to interact, but I have a bent toward introversion myself. Often I will retreat to seclusion to find breathing room, because there are times when relationships and human interaction simply draw out the anxieties in me. I am not saying I understand the extent of what these individuals experience, but I have a small taste of what they may be experiencing. Even in these cases, though, I would say that relationships are significant for these individuals. They were built by God with purpose, and have just as much to offer those around them as others have to offer them. These individuals are not exactly who I first thought of when I heard the main character speak this statement.

The individuals I thought of are those who have been devastated by relationships in their lives, which has led them to choose isolation out of fear or out of the need for protection from being hurt once again. This was much the case in the life of the character in the show I was watching. This individual trusted no one, because everyone he had placed his trust in before had somehow abused that trust, which left him feeling worthless, foolish, damaged…and the list goes on and on. The word “relationship” was a bad taste this individual could not get out of his mouth. So rather than be hurt again, he just resorted to trying to create his own world. He understandably chose self-protection, and denied emotional access to anyone who ever tried to be close to him. However, what he truly found was not that ideal world worth living in. Although he believed that he could achieve happiness through isolation, there was always this sense that something was missing. I am not that far into the show, but what I hope they discover, and what I suspect they eventually will discover, is healthy relationships are not a hindrance to true life. In fact, they are necessary for true life. A world worth living in cannot be found in isolation; it can only be found in a life dedicated to loving others and being loved in return.

This is a valuable lesson to keep hold of. Although relationships are messy, and are not always (if ever) butterflies and cupcakes, the good of healthy relationships certainly outweighs any negative. Healthy relationships are worth pursuing. I’m telling you this from experience, and I also see this lived out in the life of Jesus. I’d imagine if there were ever a person who could survive without relationships, it would be Jesus, but Jesus was rarely ever alone. Not because He had some need for attention and feared being alone, but because He knew there was sustenance that came with living a life alongside others who could bear each other’s burdens and truly live for each other’s betterment. We were designed to operate this way. Simply put, “Two are better than one” (Ecclesiastes 4:9). If you’re lonely and in isolation, God knows and sees your need. Begin to pray that He will show you who to build healthy relationships with in your life, and then go out and make it a priority to invest in those individuals starting today. Healthy relationships create a world worth living in.