I was surrounded by ladies yet had never felt so alone. The new girl, I assumed loneliness was my new normal. I never went back to that women’s ministry event. Instead, I chose aloneness. Making friends, being vulnerable, living in community felt too hard.
Last week, I went back to the same women’s ministry as a guest speaker. The same place I had felt so alone, the same place I refused to return, the same place that had been so overwhelming. Four years of life had passed and I sat with a group of ladies talking about loneliness and then sharing my story and journey to a group of aspiring entrepreneurs. These four years of life have been a journey to learning the value of community, but not without failure and loneliness along the way.
When you last failed, were you also alone?
I don’t mean fail to succeed. I mean fail in the secondary dictionary definition: to abandon or forsake, to neglect to do something. The failure that is giving up, abandoning the wise decision, overlooking the best course of action.
When did you last give up? Were you also alone?
Somehow, in this journey of life and work and entrepreneurial endeavors, I started valuing self-sufficiency. I chose to be self-sufficient. Inevitably, I failed. Badly. I made unwise decisions, I gave up on a sound plan, I neglected the best course.
And each time I have failed in life, I have been alone.
As I settle into my thirties, God has been teaching me the value of asking for help. I’ve joked about being a “late bloomer” and how I’m “finally coming into my own,” but it’s really just a journey of my heart and God’s guidance in my life. As I start to value community, I am able to flourish. As I ask for help, I am reaping the benefits.
Life was not meant to be lived alone. God created us to be in community in even the earliest accounts of humanity:
“It is not good for man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18)
Adam needed community, so God created Eve. Jacob was alone when he wrestled the angel. Moses couldn’t handle the Israelites alone. Job wanted to be alone so he could wallow in his self-pity.
Community takes a variety of forms.
One of the most valuable? Mentorships.
Not limited to a mentor-mentee relationship as might be traditionally expected, though. Although the formal and in-person relationships are beautiful, only one of my advisors has accepted and embraced the title of mentor. The rest? I doubt they even know how much I lean on them for life and business wisdom.
Avoid moving forward alone in school, career, marriage, parenting, business, life. Seek wisdom from your community, your church, your social media circle. Synthesize mentors by listening to podcasts, reading blogs, cultivating online friendships. Turn to experts for advice, even if that expert is an online brand.
My pride thwarted my ability to ask for help and my self-sufficiency handicapped my ability to succeed. When I started seeking counsel from mentors, I saw success. I didn’t immediately see profit or popularity but I finished what I set out to do and I made wise decisions along the way. I asked questions, I sought counsel, I met with mentors.
My career mentor has breathed life back into my day job, reminding me that the challenges I face are not unique to my position and giving me tools to emerge victoriously.
Our marriage mentor has reminded us of fundamental truth and helped us see objectively in the face of emotional conflict.
My business mentor(s) have held me accountable to the goals I have set and provided valuable resources towards successfully actually doing what I set out to accomplish.
My spiritual mentor(s) will probably never know how much their godly wisdom has fed into my life but they continue to speak truth when I feel discouraged.
Finding advisors to speak truth objectively, hold me accountable, and not be ruled by my emotional rollercoaster has been a pivotal step toward success. As I have intentionally embraced humility, I am learning that I’m actually not self-sufficient and that I thrive when allowing wiser-than-I advisors to speak into my life.
Sitting in the circle of ladies last week, I looked around in awe. I am not alone. I am not moving forward alone. I am moving forward in community.
Now it’s your turn. As you choose to live humbly and actively seek advice, continue to challenge your self-sufficiency: