Beyond the Buff Jesus: Peace Bound

My coffee mug of choice for the past couple of weeks has been from To Write Love on Her Arms, a non-profit organization that aims to find help for those struggling with mental illness —particularly depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. The cup is not anything fancy. It’s white and has a tandem bike on the front, surrounded by the words “People Need Other People.” I have been calling it my reminder that maybe I’m not meant to do everything on my own, something that I have slowly, but surely, been realizing.

The past year of my life has been spent working with seven other people to plan the 2015 College Conference at Montreat. Our theme was Peace Bound, and we were able to host Jamie Tworkowski, the founder of To Write Love on Her Arms, as one our keynoters. Tworkowski spoke of the struggle of finding peace when our lives are so hard, when days are filled with anxiety, when depression is real and overpowering, when it is so hard to believe that anyone could think that you were at all nice to be around that you cut yourself off from those around you.

It is undeniable that we need other people in our lives to love us, teach us, guide us and correct us.

But are there not days when it feels like life would be so much easier if you could just do it all by yourself? Are there not days when you cannot help but think that it would be great to be in control of everything, to know that it will be done well because you are the one doing it?

Sure there are, and there probably always will be. But what about the nights that you lie awake at night because your to do list just won’t stop running through your head? What about the mornings when getting out of bed is too hard because you are so exhausted from the assignments you had due and the programs that your club has to put on, and, on top of that, you realize that you have not had a conversation that is not about a task in days? Those are the days that it is abundantly clear that people need other people.

Let me say that again: people need other people. You can fight me on that one all day long. If I was being truly honest, I would say that most days, I fight it too. Sometimes it feels like needing other people is a sign of weakness. You do so much on your own that admitting that you need someone there to help you out, or listen to what is going on in your head, or maybe even just give you a hug feels like weakness.

But here’s what I can tell you: people need other people, and there is no shame in it. There is nothing wrong with admitting it, because it really is not something that you should have to admit. It is a fact that applies to the world, even if the world likes to pretend that it is not true.

I have had some time to think about Peace Bound, to try and put what I learned there into action, and I don’t really think that I have been doing that great a job of it. What I learned while I was sitting on the front pew of Anderson Auditorium wearing a ClearCom headset was that I was silly to try to take the world on by myself. I was silly to think that I could make it through this life without other people to help when the main water line backs up and water floods my kitchen. I was silly to think that I could put on big events by myself, or that I could grow spiritually or mentally on my own.

We were put on this earth so that we might find connections with people around us. We were meant to share the burdens of life with others, because no one person can carry it all. People need other people, and living into that is what it is to share the light and love of Christ. Being there for each other is one of the greatest things we can do, so maybe 2015 can be the year of realizing that we are not alone, that we are loved and worthy of being loved, that we will mess up and still be worthy of taking up space on the planet.

We are just people, people who need other people, people who are broken and who live in a broken world. We are people who long to be loved and who deserve to be loved. We are people, and that is all that we will ever be.

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