the friend and the loner

“Wisdom sees all life through relationships – our relationship to God, to others, to nature, and more. It is recognizing that the best of ourselves can only be discovered when we consider others above ourselves.”
-Erwin McManus from Stand Against the Wind
This morning I was checking out the words of one of the wisest men ever. I love meditating on the words of Solomon, who probably wrote the book of Ecclesiastes late in his life. This guy had everything, yet despite every earthly pleasure you can imagine, Solomon found his heart empty. This book contrasts a live of vain pursuits with the only meaningful pursuit in life, the pursuit of relationship with our Creator.
In chapter 4, Solomon talks about 2 types of people…the loner and the friend. The lonely man – who can also be described as a prideful ‘workaholic’ – observes the end of his toil with despair and “his eyes were not content with his wealth.” He then asks, “why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” (v.8)
When I consider times in my life where I’m working so hard for something, only to find emptiness in my toil, I realize my tendancies and my mistakes in pursuing success and gain in life on my own. No matter how successful I may be, when I look back, there’s no one there I shared my labor with. There’s just emptiness and questions.
Before Molly and I were married, I had “Ecclesiastes 4:9-12” engraved on her wedding band. These words remind me that we were not designed for loneliness and isolation in life (hear me on this, introverts); we’re designed to enjoy companionship and intimacy – with God, with people, with nature. Two are truly better than one. Life becomes more productive, and such companionships bring us encouragement, support, the ability to survive, strength to face battles and to overcome.
Verse 12 nails this point home of me…“a cord of three strands is not easily broken.” My friend, John Berry, and I used a few pieces of yarn one time to illustrate this point; it has stuck with me to this day. One piece of yarn can be snapped easily. Add another piece, and it become tougher to break. Braid three together, and it’s very difficult to break.
We need relationships…relationships that are meaningful, deep, intimate. Relationships that are made “unbreakable” with the cord of God woven into them.
I truly believe that the best moments in my life have been found in giving myself away…
Consider your own life. How do relationships shape you? What are your stuggles with them? Jump in with your thoughts and add to the painting…

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