Monday, March 3, 2014

Two IS Better than one

Well, I am sure like many of you on the East Coast, I was shoveling out snow this afternoon.  As I was outside with my grandfather cleaning off our cars and shoveling the driveway, this great reminder popped into my head; "Two really is better than one".  Immediately after that I thought of the verse in Ecclesiastes that states this same truth.

"Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.  If one person falls, the other can reach out and help.  But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.  Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm.  But how can one be warm alone?  A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer.  Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken." - Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Now, this isn't really a new topic.  Pop culture seems to get it, or at least the artists Boys Like Girls & Taylor Swift do, and I would assume that most of us understand when you do something by yourself, it tends to take a long-time and can be quite boring.  When you share the work with someone else, it cuts both each other's work in half and can make things a lot more enjoyable.  Add more people, and the task is lessened even more.  Simple fractions really.  However, there obviously are some arguments that can be brought up; like "I don't need anybodies help, I can do it all by myself" or "too many heads equal too many problems", etc.  To this, I say those mindsets represent foolishness and pride more so than true wisdom.  Of course, the more people you have work together, the greater possibility that there can be disagreement.  It's why I believe you see in the verse above praising a team of two and maybe even a team of three but it doesn't go into great detail about more than that.  Perhaps a discussion of the struggles large groups working together can experience could be a post for another time, but for this one, I really just want to focus on the "two is better than one" concept.

When I see that verse above, the team of two means to me a married couple.  Both are committed to go through life together, bringing to life so much joy, pleasure, excitement, and comfort.  Sure it will be hard at times and painful, but love is always worth the fight.  When I think of the three chords, I think of a husband, wife, and God all working together as a powerful team.  God helps keep both spouses on the right path, keeping them humble and choosing love, forgiveness, and compassion rather than resentment, hate, or anger.  Although my mind automatically thinks of relationships when it comes to this topic, I know that verse can be used to enforce its wisdom in many aspects of life and the accomplishments that can be carried out by working together in all aspects of life.  And there's the key statement folks; WORKING TOGETHER.  That's what makes this whole concept work.  It doesn't matter how many people you may have together, if you do not have a common purpose or goal, if you do not communicate effectively as you seek that goal, you will fail.  A company will fail if all the working pieces are not aligned.  A watch would not function without each cog moving in sync with each other.  A couple will not last if they are not moving in the same direction; which should always point "north" towards a greater love, together as one.

At times, it is very important to do things by yourself.  You can only change yourself; no one else is responsible for that.  You are responsible for you; your own job, your own personal growth, your own maturity, your own relationship with God, etc.  However, the point I want to make, is that you do not have to, nor should you, do life alone.  We are not designed or meant to live life alone.  For starters, God is with you, each second of each day.  You already have a forever guide and helper throughout life, if you choose Him to be.  [side note: it feels so good knowing that God is with you; with His love lighting your path]

Being alone is not ideal.  To help explain my thoughts let's look at solitary confinement.  There is a reason why solitary confinement is one of the worst consequences of incarceration.  It is easily documented why being alone is detrimental to our very humanity.

The devastating psychological and physical effects of prolonged solitary confinement are well documented by social scientists: prolonged solitary confinement causes prisoners significant mental harm and places them at grave risk of even more devastating future psychological harm.  Researchers have demonstrated that prolonged solitary confinement causes a persistent and heightened state of anxiety and nervousness, headaches, insomnia, lethargy or chronic tiredness, nightmares, heart palpitations, and fear of impending nervous breakdowns. Other documented effects include obsessive ruminations, confused thought processes, an oversensitivity to
stimuli, irrational anger, social withdrawal, hallucinations, violent fantasies, emotional flatness, mood swings, chronic depression, feelings of overall deterioration, as well as suicidal ideation." (Center for Constitutional Rights)
"The human brain is ill-adapted to such conditions, and activists and some psychologists equate it to torture. Solitary confinement isn’t merely uncomfortable, they say, but such an anathema to human needs that it often drives prisoners mad.  In isolation, people become anxious and angry, prone to hallucinations and wild mood swings, and unable to control their impulses. The problems are even worse in people predisposed to mental illness, and can wreak long-lasting changes in prisoners’ minds."

To argue the validity that being alone is in fact better, would in my opinion, be not only false, but a travesty to yourself and the many other people that could find you to be a blessing in their lives.  In my experience, those that think they need to do life alone or are better off alone, are those who have been deeply wounded, bought into the lie that they are worthless, or just quite self-centered.  Whatever, the reason, just know that there are many benefits to why you should go through life with others, not alone.  God listed a couple in that verse above, yet there are many more:

- When you fall down, literally or figuratively, you have someone to help pick you up and dust you off

- When you work together with someone, you can accomplish many things more efficiently and more thoroughly.

- Trying to cut back on your heating bill?  Not enough blankets?  Snuggle up with someone, body heat can be the best kind of heat you need.

- When you are attacked, whether it be physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually, you have someone there who can help defend against the assault, stand up for you, and aide in mutual protection.

- Cliché, yes, but you know what they say, "Two heads are better than one".

- You share the burdens of life

- You add to your own life and the life of someone else's.

- You tend to laugh more with others than by yourself; and they say that laughter is medicine for the soul.

The list goes on and on.  When you constantly have a "me" mentality, you forget how great a blessing it is to go through life as "we".  When you choose to be with others in your life, life just gets more exciting.  Would you go to a restaurant by yourself, the majority of the time, probably not.  Life is more exciting and more fun with other people.  It is more rewarding and more meaningful.  One person can make a difference, but strength can truly be found in numbers.  

Yes, there will be sacrifices to make.  Sacrifices that should be made.  News flash, I don't know it all and neither do you.  We learn so much by letting other people in.  It's a small price to pay for the happiness we experience when we feel the deep joy of having someone there.  Yes, you will need to let go of your pride, get over yourself, and expand your personal realm of life, but wouldn't you rather enjoy the freeing and rejuvenating sensations of intimacy than the solidarity and suppression of singularity?  You already know I would!  ;-)

It's not the worst thing in the world to be humbled and learn that you have a lot to gain from others; be a courageous risk-taker.  All relationships involve risk and vulnerabilities, but when you are wise with whom you share your life with, you also experience immeasurable love and benefits by living life with a lifelong partner and multiple friendships.  If you have been hurt or struggle putting yourself "out there", don't give up.  You are valuable and so worth it.  Take the time to heal and try again, being confident in yourself and that you are so worthy of love and friendship.

“There is nothing nobler or more admirable than when two people, who see eye to eye, keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends.” - Homer

...couldn't agree more my Greek friend.

Teamwork is the best kind of work because "team work makes the dream work".

I challenge myself and each of you to not go through life alone and to live life knowing that, Two IS in fact, better than one.


-Matthew    =)


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