Heaven Is Other People

 

For a long time, I believed strength was being an island.
Not needing anyone else.
Being able to take care of my problems by myself.

I think a lot of this probably comes from American culture's celebration of independence. If you're like me, you grew up watching movies about cowboys and lone rangers who slam their badges down on the desk of the police chief and rebelliously declare that they'll do it themselves. When's the last time you saw an action hero admit he needs the help of other people? When's the last time the main character's fatal character flaw took hard work and time to overcome and even then, probably still wasn't gone?

Here's the problem with this picture of strength: it's not the one Jesus paints for us.

Nowhere in the Gospels do we see Jesus telling His disciples they need to go solo and to stop hanging out in pairs like babies. In fact, we see quite the opposite.

I think it's worth noting that when Jesus is listing basic needs people can meet for each other in Matthew 25:35-36, he lists food, water, clothing, and no less than 3(!) types of community. In fact, it's 3 out of 6, which means half of the ways Jesus uses to illustrate giving and accepting love are based on simply being involved in each others' lives.

Even more interesting: one of these is literally accepting help from others in a time of need.

So how have we gotten to the point where most American Christians think that asking for help means their faith is somehow weak?

Even worse is the application of this attitude to our faith life. It seems to be the prevailing notion that strength means just you and Jesus, just your ability to pray hard enough, just your ability to choose joy.'

But that's not what I see the Jesus of the Gospels preaching. I see a God who time and time again uses people to help other people. Maybe you weren't meant to do it all on your own. Maybe we've gotten strength all wrong.

Because the more I see, the more I come to believe this:
Strength isn't not needing other people, it's knowing when you need help and being willing to ask for it. (Tweet!)

Asking for help is a beautiful and freeing act of faith, not a glaring lack of it.

And it's even more important when the help you're afraid to ask for is the type that you desperately need, like mental health care. Refusing treatment based on 'faith' isn't only illogical, it's dangerous.

Because I've been in the place where suicide seems like the only option; I've wanted nothing more than to leave this life & I've tried to. And I can tell you this: 

Feeling alone & worthless & scared because you can neither understand nor control your own brain doesn't make you believe that God is love. It makes you believe that God is an asshole.

Believing that you're supposed to have everything together and not need any help based on Scriptures about God providing usually only leads to feeling like crap when it doesn't work that way.

So, if I'm being really honest, here's what I believe to be true:
Not asking for help isn't just an improper application of your faith, it's detrimental to your faith.

Please, know that God wants you to ask for help from the people around you.

Maybe it's why He put them there.

I think Sartre had it backwards: heaven is other people.