You need a village.
We were created in the image of God, who lives in perfect relational harmony with the Trinity. We were, then, created to exist in community. In relationship. Existing within a village is an integral part of the human experience. We were not designed by Almighty God to dwell in isolation. We are finite individuals not meant to live as hermits, not created to do it all. We are meant to live with, and closely to, other people.
Our society is well built for isolation. We can easily live without leaving our home. Any number of apps will deliver food and drink to your front door with a few clicks and a credit card. You can order most anything online. Social media lulls us into believing that all deep and meaningful relationships can be cultivated exclusively online. I’m not saying there isn’t community online. I know there is. Some of my dearest friends are relationships cultivated through an online platform.
The danger, however, lies in believing we’ve got this on our own, especially when we are attempting to manage a life that threatens to overwhelm us. Grief, anxiety, spousal caregiving, depression, chronic illness or chronic pain… these experiences drive us to withdraw and we can quickly find ourselves hiding out and trying to live full lives in isolation.
We have our excuses:
“No one will understand.”
“It’s too exhausting to go out with people.”
“They’re all tired of me anyway. I’m tired of me. Why wouldn’t they be?”
Friend, it takes a village to love and sustain a human being. You are not the exception to that rule.
If you have, based on the last post in this series,, come to realize your team is not intact, it’s time to build your village. It is likely that the foundation of that village already exists. There are people in your life who already love you despite being unsure of how to support you; church family members who have gifts waiting to be invoked; friends waiting quietly for an open door to support and encourage, despite your repeated insistence that you’ve got this, and everything will fine.
Build your village.
Make a List
Jot down everything you would love for someone to take off your plate, even if for a brief period of time. Be extravagant. List the small, the mundane, and the ridiculous. Write it all down, and don’t be shy. Don’t be afraid to add things that are ongoing or long term. Share the list with a friend. Usually, that’s all it takes.
Find the Trusted Ones
These are individuals capable of listening and holding what is shared in supreme confidentiality. They aren’t looking to fix concerns or gloss over difficulties but instead listen patiently, without judgment, and then pray with you. If you aren’t sure who these people are in your life, seek out a counselor for the interim: a safe place to say those raw, consuming feelings you’ve been holding back lest someone discover what a horrible person you are. (You aren’t a horrible person, for the record.) Find the trusted ones. Sit with them.
Find the Perspective Bringers
These are the individuals who can settle you with a few words. Sometimes we need that. We need the response that urges us to slow it down. I have one friend who will often text back, “Be still, Thelma.” There is nothing stern in her simple words… just a reminder to pause, take a breath and regroup. And it always works.
Find the Prayer Warriors
If you belong to a church family, chances are good that there are more people praying for you and your situation than you realize. I find notes and cards in our church mailbox from people I barely know, encouraging us to remember that we are loved and prayed for.
In addition, select a handful of people willing to find their knees for specific requests. Every village needs its warriors; bring yours on side through the power of prayer.
Laughter is Good Medicine
Who can resist a good meme or video filled with puppies? We need release in the form of laughter. Sure, sometimes we just need a good cry, but often we need to laugh so hard our side aches. Allow those people into your life, and let them nurture that part of you that needs to vocalize joy. They will know when it’s appropriate. Trust them.
In the midst of a storm, build your village. I assure you that these integral people are not far off. They are near as your request for help, and even then it will probably surprise you as more appear from the background and join.
We need a village, friend. It’s not just the mamas and the papas raising little ones. It’s all of us. And here’s the beauty part: it rapidly becomes mutual. As these trusted people draw near and form your village, you become theirs. You will find yourself encouraging, making another laugh, pausing with someone to pray. Even when the idea of a concerted effort to serve someone else feels enormous and impossible, you will discover small moments of service within the beauty of relationship.
If your team is not intact, build your village. Choose relational community over a fortress of isolation and worry. Let them write blessing on the walls of your heart. Trust me, dear one. It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.