It’s tempting to decide to go your own way, but what if you never were meant for a truly independent, lone ranger kind of life?
The Lone Ranger TV show, airing 1949 to 1957, was decades before my time, but growing up I knew that the Lone Ranger wasn’t so lonely.
For starters, he had a friend, Tonto. And he never went anywhere without his trusty horse, Silver.
Somehow, though, the Lone Ranger seems like he should be the poster child for independent loners.
Just like the Lone Ranger seemed like he should be alone, for most of my life (as in more than forty years!), I thought I could stick to myself and be independent. Granted, I had friends. I had close family relationships. And I was married to my best friend and loved spending time with him.
That might not sound very lonely or alone, but deep down, I felt independent. I felt like I shouldn’t need to rely on relationships or ask for help from anyone.
I thought self-sufficiency was a huge strength.
The Myth of Self-Sufficiency
Throughout my self-sufficient life, I had been part of ensembles and casts both offstage and onstage. I was a member of newspaper and magazine staffs. I was a polite team player. Even though I was part of these groups, I still didn’t fully take ownership. I didn’t feel like I fully fit in.
But it wasn’t until I joined a rather exceptional church staff two years ago that I began to realize how much I needed other people in my life.
Of course, I needed others’ ideas and feedback for brainstorming and planning. But knowing that other people shared the same mission, goal, and purpose that I had was refreshing.
And it was encouraging to realize that I could stop attempting everything on my own. In fact, I didn’t have to pull all the weight and do everything all by myself, because I had co-workers and an army of volunteers to help.
After my family faced a crisis last winter, the confirmation came that, in fact, these sisters and brothers in Christ weren’t simply being kind. As I opened up and bluntly shared my concerns with them, I was reminded over and over that they were legitimately concerned.
They prayed with me and kept praying. My family’s concerns became their concerns. Instead of feeling like I was burdening everyone, they willingly reached out to ask about updates.
Right in the middle of a time of life when we easily could have felt all by ourselves, we experienced the body of Christ in a brand-new, authentic way. We experienced being a part of something so much bigger than ourselves.
This kind of concern and care should be how Christ followers are recognized:
- Galatians 6:2 instructs believers to “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
- Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
- And 1 John 3:23-24 teaches, “ And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them.”
That kind of love, encouragement, spurring each other on to love and good deeds, and carrying each other’s burdens makes an incredible difference. It makes the most self-sufficient person realize she needs others to survive and thrive.
Investing in Relationships
Even if and when life feels a little too “peopley” for you, it’s still possible to connect in much-needed relationships. There’s a reason solitary confinement is a punishment– you’re not meant to live in solitude for long periods of time.
If you have self-sufficient tendencies like I did, feel free to appreciate your independent streak. But you also need a community of people who deeply care for you and lift you up when you’re feeling down. If you don’t have this, it’s time to make a change.
One important bit of advice I repeat to myself over and over is that to have a friend you need to be a friend. That means when it feels tempting to crawl back in the turtle shell of my introversion and just stick to myself, I know it’s time to invest in other relationships. I need to push myself to check in with friends because I truly do love them.
Another friendship booster I learned over the past several years is the desperate need for getting together in person. Long-distance friendships are possible and sometimes necessary. But if at all possible, meet with your friends face-to-face!
- It might mean a one-on-one coffee chat or lunch out.
- You could invite people over.
- Meet up for a walk around the neighborhood.
- Squeeze in times to gather a big group of friends together.
However this works out, make sure it happens! Seeing and talking and laughing with each other is a vital part of friendships. It leaves you happy and fulfilled in a way no video call or texting can do.
When You Find Yourself in a Lonely Spot
If and when you find yourself without many relationships and friendships, it can be tempting to stick to yourself. But so many in the world are missing out on you! And you’re missing out on meeting so many interesting people.
As a believer, finding a local, Bible-teaching church always was the first stop for me to meet new people. No matter what city I moved to, churches became the hub for friendships.
Outside of church, you can socialize with co-workers, neighbors, try out different organizations, or volunteer. People are all around, and you never know who you might meet.
As you invest in your friendships and relationships, watch the way the Lord will not only build them, but also build you into a stronger, healthier, happier person. And say goodbye to your lonely Lone Ranger self!