Why you should stop going it alone
On a recent Sunday afternoon, a friend and I visited Jackson’s Buddy Butts Park — where the U.S. Corps of Engineers worked on a scale model of the Mississippi River watershed using POW labor during World War II.
My friend and I explored some of the abandoned buildings at the park, walked some of the finished-but-abandoned river model, and followed a trail through the woods. Yes, the buildings were tagged with graffiti, yes the park would make a perfect horror movie set and yes we were very much aware of that fact.
Oh, and it was raining pretty hard for most of this.
We splashed, sloshed, squealed and laughed, and by the end of our adventure I’d even climbed a water tower (after the rain stopped).
Without my friend, I’d have been too scared to keep slogging along the trail when the rain and thunder blew in. And I wouldn’t have climbed the water tower without her, either. What if I fell and nobody was there to call an ambulance?
My friend considers herself a “strong, independent woman,” as do I. When I go hiking and someone offers me a hand for a difficult step up, I ignore the hand and do it myself. I want to work alone. Like Batman, or an Avon lady.
But that ain’t how real life works. Even Batman had Robin.
Jesus does say we’ll do great things in His name if we follow His commands. But how are we supposed to do those things? By ourselves, as billions of individuals? I don’t think so.
We’re all meant to join a local body of believers for fellowship, prayer, worship and the Great Commission (Hebrews 10:25). What that looks like might vary, but it’s not optional. Even the apostles who witnessed Jesus’ miracles (and performed some themselves) went out in pairs to preach the gospel (Luke 10:1). And that was before the “church” as we know it even existed.
Also, most of us are probably part of other mini-communities. Not all of these are going to be exclusively Christian, but they can still be helpful. For instance, a lot of mornings I’m out running and jumping around on the Madison Central football field with a handful of other weirdos at Paul Lacoste Sports.
If I weren’t a part of a church and a small Bible study group, my personal relationship with God would devolve into navel-gazing. If I never joined Paul Lacoste Sports, I’d be pretty unhealthy, because nobody would text me when I missed a workout. All of this would lead to depression, loneliness and more depression.
Bottom line, I wouldn’t be nearly as effective for the kingdom of God as an isolated, withdrawn individual. I need community in order to survive.
Our cover story is on the Junior League of Jackson, a powerful community in itself that God is surely using in the Jackson community. Our other feature story is about Sean Milner, who went from growing up at Baptist Children’s Village in Jackson to becoming executive director of the entire ministry, which has campuses throughout the state.
I also want to highlight two books you might enjoy (after you finish this issue of MCL). First, MCL’s very own founder and former publisher/editor, Marilyn Tinnin, has released “MaeMae’s Grandmother Book: Life Lessons for Our Grandchildren (Big People Too).” Marilyn will be at the Mississippi Book Festival on August 17.
Also, my friend Susan Cushman has written a short story collection called “Friends of the Library” that was arriving at Lemuria Books in Jackson “any minute now” at press time, and will release on Amazon.com on August 30. She based the stories on a book tour that took her to public libraries across Mississippi. Each story is set in a different town, with different characters and vignettes to settle into.
Susan’s stories end well — some readers might say too well — but they’re a beautiful reminder of how communities should work, and how people should come together and help each other, if we’d care enough to do so. It’s a perfect book to curl up with on a couch when you need to recharge. Susan will be at Lemuria on August 27.
I hope this issue of MCL and the words of scripture will help us not to walk through life alone. I know it can be hard to reach out for help. But it’s worth the risk.