On Protagonism and Community

*Disclaimer: I am writing this for future Jessica, when she thinks she doesn’t need to invest in a community. This is my effort to negate the “those who don’t learn from history…” idea.

Do you ever feel like you’re the protagonist of your life?

Orson Scott Card once wrote that the truest definition of a protagonist is one that is separated from the flock. For some reason or another he/she has been differentiated, set apart, or excluded- he’s forging his path alone.

On a broad scale, I am completely aware that I am the main character of my life to myself. It’s impossible for me to get inside anyone else’s head, so I must live with the person I am, for better or worse.

But as I look at my life I see I’m surrounded by people who love and support me, and that I’m truly at my lowest when I believe I must forge my path alone. When I believe I’m an island, I feel terrible. Yeah, I have a few hours where I become incredibly pensive and introspective and cool, but when I consider having to sustain that solitary life and all that would entail I immediately desire companionship of some sort.

Maybe this is why we’re so drawn to love stories. Through the course of the movie or book we’ve grown attached to this protagonist- so much so that we desire for them to not always have to be the solo man on stage.

I think this is also why Jesus sent His disciples out in pairs (Luke 10), or why most of the epistles were written with other people around (Romans 16:22 & 23, Ephesians 6:21). Time and again the Bible echoes of the importance of being in a community of believers, set apart as a group to bring God’s Kingdom to earth (1 Peter 2:9 & 10).

There’s a lot of beauty that comes from solitude and being okay with the person you are when you’re alone. Jesus Himself spent His nights alone in prayer (Luke 5:6), and God has made a lot people, myself included, find their energy in “lonely places.”

But I’m so thankful that the design of humanity was never for us to spend our lives alone (Genesis 2:18). God desires community for His people, and this same God said that second to loving Him, the most important thing we can do is love others (Matthew 22:36-40).

We are called to participate in the life that is going on around us and share our singular lives with others. The story of humanity doesn’t rest on our shoulders, God knows we will mess up and fail. But His mercies are new every morning (Lam 3:23) and His holy rest enables us to live rich and full lives as supporting characters in God’s story (Matthew 11:28-30).

Have you suffered, starved and triumphed,
groveled down, yet grasped at glory,
Grown bigger in the bigness of the whole?
“Done things” just for the doing, letting babblers tell the story,
Seeing through the nice veneer the naked soul?
Have you seen God in His splendors,
heard the text that nature renders?
(You’ll never hear it in the family pew).
The simple things, the true things, the silent men who do things —
Then listen to the Wild — it’s calling you.

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