This week I have been playing tour guide in the beautiful Niagara region. I have two cousins visiting from my native country El Salvador and we have been having a wonderful time going to all the must-see tourist attractions such as Niagara Falls, and Niagara on the Lake. We even went to a Pumpkin Patch Farm the other day! It was their first time and my first time at a Pumpkin Patch. You may recall from my previous article, Returning to Gratitude, that I had recently driven past one and desired to visit one soon. I had originally thought I would go to one on my own but then my cousins’ visit came faster than I expected and it seemed like a perfect thing to experience together.
We live in a society in North America that promotes self-sufficiency and praises independence. But in other parts of the world family and community are regarded more highly than self-reliance. For instance, in Latin America, it’s rare for single individuals to live on their own, regardless of age. They will live with their parents until they get married and this is perfectly acceptable and normal. In many Asian countries it’s common for three generations to reside under one roof. Children are expected to take care of their parents and grandparents. It’s considered an honour. This is not the case in North America. It’s rare for adult children of a certain age to live with their families if they are unwed and generations of families don’t tend to inhabit the same space.
My little nephew is 14 months and I’m noticing how utterly dependent he is on others. Oh, he doesn’t want to be. Sometimes he pushes our hands away when we try to help him because he wants to do things on his own. He started walking a couple of months ago and he is loving his new-found freedom. The problem is that he can’t walk steady and wants to explore everything, including things that can cause him harm. He needs adult supervision at all times. There is a saying, “it takes a village to raise a child,” and I agree. We all work together as a family to ensure his safety. We depend on one another and he needs us.
It’s not just when we are little that we rely on others. As adults we may not need each other for survival the way kids need their parents, but we still require help in other ways. There is nothing like having emotional support from people we love during hard times. A year and a half ago, our beautiful cousins that have come to visit us this week, lost their mother to cancer. It was the most devastating event that ever happened to either of them. It turned their world upside. And one of the ways they were able to get through it was by having each other. They would talk on the phone constantly, cry on one another’s shoulders, visit the cemetery together. You can try to do these things on your own but it’s not the same. God often comforts us in powerful ways through people. It’s special to have someone hug us in person, hold our hand or speak words that are like a balm to our soul.
God has created us to live in community, not apart from one another. He created the family unit. We need each other more than we realize. I was convicted of this truth this past October 19, the day of my birthday. The Bible passage that I read that morning was on The Tower of Babel, found in Genesis 11:1-9. The main problem of the people in that passage was that all of a sudden, they didn’t want to strive to be like God, they wanted to be god.
Being single for so long has turned me into a more independent woman. This is something that I love and pride myself in. It’s also not wrong. The problem comes when I forget that God is all sufficient by not asking him for help or not acknowledging my need of him in ALL things. Yes, I have grown accustomed to carrying my own suitcases for example, but who gives me the strength to do so? Who has given me eyes to see and two hands to use? The Creator of the universe has created things so we can enjoy them, take care of them and to point us to him.
Once again, independence, is not a bad thing but we need to be able to put down our pride to recognize when we need others around us. It’s not a sign of weakness. In fact, I believe it’s the strongest, most humble and valiant people that can see the potential dangers or disadvantages of doing things on their own and realize that they can actually succeed better if they reach out their hands to others for help and fix their eyes on up above.
I would love to hear from you! Please feel free to contact me at email@example.com