It Is Not Good for Man To Be Alone
A Cross-Current Meeting reflection.
Cross-Current Cultural Influencers Group Meeting #5, online, May 2021
Reflections written by Veronika Wimmer, member of Cultural Influencers Cross-Current Professional Group
As a teacher, my responsibility sometimes weighs heavily on me. 140 students, 140 individuals with different backgrounds, often from different cultures, with different experiences, needs, moods… It is impossible to do them all justice, to always meet them and interact with them the way they need it - the way they deserve it. Often, it’s even difficult to just “see” them, recognise that they are there, sitting in my class.
So, I was hesitant when, about a year ago, I dared to take my first steps into the online dating world. There I suddenly was, scrolling through a catalogue of faces and facts. The pressure to make a judgement and form an opinion was dangling over me like Damocles’ sword. Could I interact with someone online, get to know them and do them justice in my assessment of who they are?
How DO you do it? How do you encounter people, live out relationships and friendships in their different forms and stages, all in a way that allows you to respect and honour one another as human beings created by God? How do you honour the fact that we are all His love, kindness, and thought poured into the form of a person?
I grew up and have lived as a Christian all my life. In many ways, I have been taught about being a “good” person. But when it comes down to it, I often feel ill equipped in dealing with people. I end up in unwanted conflict, I judge, I lash out at others and sometimes I am simply overwhelmed with the complexity of another person. It’s a shocking revelation. What is the ‘good’ in my being with others, when I still fail so often to bring about the ‘good’ in my interaction with others? In what areas do I need to see anew and grow, so that I can live the ‘good’ of human interaction that God created back in the Garden of Eden?
Three thoughts come to mind when I think about this question.
First, it’s important to see that every human being is created in the image of God. Every person I meet has the capacity to reveal to me an aspect of who God is. The beauty of my friend playing the guitar reveals to me the beauty of a creative skill God has placed in him. The depth of my friend's questions and ideas demonstrates to me the array of thought God has placed in his mind. As my two-and-a-half-year-old niece skips joyfully through our yard, she reminds me of the bliss we can experience, when we lose the need of being aware of ourselves and are caught in a moment of enjoying creation as the created. The warmth of my friend’s hug given to me without asking, wraps me in the comfort and warmth God gives to me out of grace and entirely free of charge. With every kind word I receive, I experience the goodness of God. With every display of ingenuity produced by humanity, I see God’s creative spirit doing wonders within us. Who am I, then, to look down on or emotionally exploit the people God so graciously has placed around me and put in my life to reveal to me the beauty and diversity of His character?
Secondly, I should remember the life that is created in my relationships. The bodily intimacy of a man and a woman can create new biological life. But there is life in all our relationships, life beyond the biological sphere. My friendships bring to life new ideas, feelings, experiences. They make me feel alive as we interact, struggle and sometimes wrestle with the fact that we are different and do not see things the same way. When I look into your eyes, I see more than a pair of eyeballs out into the world. I see something or, rather, someone real. Someone I can’t control and who, while fully and entirely known by God, will only ever be known to me in fragments. But as we speak and interact, each of us becomes alive in the reality of the other. And this created life wouldn’t be there without our relationship, without opening ourselves up to one another.
Thirdly, I need to grow in my ability to trust. There is a deep desire in me to know and to be known. It is not about the knowledge of my existence or facts about my life (birthplace, shoe size, hobbies, etc.), but I want to be known in a relationship a person shares with me. In order for this to happen I need to reveal, to some extent, who I am. It is the only way we can know each other deeply. This requires trust and trustworthiness. I have never been quick to trust, but instead have always been good at guarding my heart and at censoring what I reveal to others. I think trust is a precious gift and it will always come with the risk of getting hurt, a risk I am hesitant to take. But then I look at Jesus and I see him hanging on the cross as He pours out Himself to the world, letting himself be known fully so that God could be revealed. It makes me want to open up and reveal who I am and what God has done in my life—not fully and in an unlimited way to everyone, but in a real and authentic way, generously, and with trust in the people around me. This requires me to trust those I open up to, but it also requires me to trust God that He will heal and comfort me when that trust is broken.
So, it is indeed not good for man to be alone. My life would be marked by significant absences, were I alone: the aspects of who God is that are revealed to me in the diversity of human embodiment, the life that is created in moments of genuine human interaction, and the chance to trust and give of myself generously to others and to receive from them in return.
It is an honour to be allowed to participate in the lives of the people around me, sometimes for longer, sometimes for shorter periods of time. I am a guest in their life, they are honoured guests in mine. I do not want to exploit them but share with them what little or plenty I have at any given time. As we stumble along in the thickets of our lives, may there be ever so much of God’s goodness in our being together.
This article was the result of our CC May meeting. I owe the lion’s share of my ideas to our leader Marsh Moyle and to the discussions with some wonderful people from all around the world.