I’m still reading “Blue Like Jazz.” Usually, I scarf down books, gulping them down as quickly as I can. With this book, though, I am nibbling it. I bite off a tiny bit and chew and chew and chew.
I’m also trying to read a few other books at the same time. One of the books I’ve recently begun is “Friend Raising” by Betty Barnett. This is a book recommended by NTM to help us begin our partnership development.
Not coincidentally, I am reading about the importance of community in Miller’s “Blue Like Jazz” at the same time I’m reading about interdependence in Barnett’s book. So I’m mulling around the idea of how much we need other people. Our society idolizes independence. Making it on one’s own, never needing help, having it all together — these are all attributes we admire in others. But, as Barnett points out, this attitude of independence is rooted in pride. She wisely explains that aspiring to independence caused Satan’s fall and ruined relationships in the Garden of Eden.
Miller writes, “I think it is interesting that God designed people to need other people. We see those cigarette advertisements with the rugged cowboy riding around alone on a horse, and we think that is strength, when, really, it is like setting your soul down on a couch and not exercising it. The soul needs to interact with other people to be healthy. . . . And what is sad, what is very sad, is that we are proud people, and because we have sensitive egos and so many of us live our lives in front of our televisions, not having to deal with real people who might hurt us or offend us, we float along on our couches like astronauts moving aimlessly through the Milky Way, hardly interacting with other humans at all.”
Later, Miller goes on, “Jesus does not want us floating through space or sitting in front of our televisions. Jesus wants us interacting, eating together, laughing together, praying together. . . . If loving other people is a bit of heaven then certainly isolation is a bit of hell.”
Independence is not what God desires for us. God wants us to humble ourselves and be part of a community. God wants us to rely on Him, but He also wants us to rely on other people. We don’t need to have it all together. We don’t even need to pretend we have it all together. And we don’t need to look down on other people for not having it all together. I don’t have to be that rugged cowboy riding around alone on a horse; and I don’t want to admire him any more.