When I was in sixth grade science class, I learned about kingdoms. There are five major kingdoms in which living organisms are classified. One of those kingdoms is “Kingdom Fungi”, made up of at least 1,000,000 species. Fungus decomposes and absorbs the material in which it lives, comprising mushrooms, mold, mildew, rusts, and yeast. Fungus is disgusting. And fungus is a bit like living all alone.
When you live on your own, you begin to think it’s all about you. The world revolves around you. Your preferences, your space, your time, your desires, your needs, your experiences, your frustrations, your life. When you live on your own, it’s easy to become self-absorbed.
It’s easy for me to believe the lie that this life is a story about me.
I love my 300 square foot apartment. I love the having the temperature at 67 degrees. I love having the dishes washed right after using them. I love turning the lights off late after reading in my bed. I love leaving my shoes right by the door. I love putting my chapstick down and finding it in the same place days later. It’s easy to live on my own. I do what I want, when I want, with whom I want. My furniture is arranged just the way I like it. The walls are filled with my favorite art. The fridge is stocked with food that my tastebuds desire.
It seems as though it is all about me.
I hate that.
It being all about me is lonely. It’s quiet and secluded. It’s comfortable and pleasant. It’s clean and straightforward.
I hate that.
Life isn’t supposed to be quiet all the time. Life isn’t supposed to be comfortable. Life is messy, confusing, a whirlwind of experiences, like a thrilling rollercoaster.
Because life is about others. Other people make life rich and rewarding, frustrating and difficult. Other people break chains, dispelling the myth that life is a story about me. Other people promote communication, feeling, learning, growing, and dying to oneself.
Donald Miller talks about loneliness and community in his book, “Blue Like Jazz”:
“Loneliness is something that happens to us, but I think it is something we can move ourselves out of. I think a person who is lonely should dig into a community, give himself to a community, humble himself before his friends, initiate community, teach people to care for each other, love each other. Jesus does not want us floating through space or sitting in front of our televisions. Jesus wants us interacting, eating together, laughing together, praying together. Loneliness is something that came with the fall. If loving other people is a bit of heaven then certainly isolation is a bit of hell, and to that degree, here on earth, we decide in which state we would like to live.”
If I hide in my little apartment, secluding myself from people, I am fungus growing under a log. Disgusting. I was not created a fungus. I was created a human. And humans need others in order to be healthy.
So here’s to not being a fungus. Here’s to stepping out and reaching out. Here’s to beginning new friendships. Here’s to working at developing deep, rich, genuine community. Here’s to choosing to bring heaven to earth.