At the dawn of time, God looked upon his creation, including a guy named Adam, and said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18). This suggests a number of jokes like “God created women because he knew men by themselves would make a wreckage of things.” If you look around, that joke isn’t far off the mark.
Really, though, God created men and women for companionship, first with himself, and second with one another. Notice that God’s observation began with “It is not good for the man to be alone.” Being alone can be productive if you get more work done, relaxing without distractions, or simply enjoyable if you spend the time reflecting on whatever seems interesting. But being alone too long or too often can also be lonely or depressing.
Companionship matters because God created us to be companionable people. We’re individuals, but we work best in community. Aristotle was a smart man, but he only got it half right when he said, “Man is a social animal.” Human beings are not animals, but we are social.
Companionship is key to successful marriage and it’s always a great story to read about a couple that’s lived in holy and happy matrimony for more than sixty years. Husbands and wives, rightly matched, balance, reinforce, hold accountable, encourage, and complete one another. When it works as God intended it’s a great thing to experience and to watch.
But some people aren’t and maybe don’t want to be married. They’ve chosen a single person’s life and there’s nothing in Scripture that suggests this is anything other than a different choice or calling. It presents its own challenges and advantages. In terms of challenges, needed companionship must come from someone other than a spouse.
Obviously, there’s nothing wrong, per se, with being alone or choosing to live alone. A lot of people live alone for their own reasons or for a time and do so in a healthy manner. More power to them and may they be blessed with many friends.
It’s still rather interesting, though, to note that when you hear media describe someone as “a loner” it’s generally not a good thing. “Loners” can be so idiosyncratic they turn into hermits, recluses, or troglodytes. Howard Hughes, talented and rich though he was, became increasingly neurotic in his withdrawal from others, so his life didn’t end well or happy. “Loners” in this negative sense bring visions of the Unabomber. Companionship might have saved both men from ignominy.
Friends matter whether a person is married or single. Good friends are more difficult to find than one might imagine, and as one grows older, they’re sometimes even more difficult to find. But finding friends is usually possible and always necessary.
Companions must be carefully chosen. In Proverbs, Solomon repeated this refrain often: “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (18:24). Real companions are loyal to not just you but to truth and your best interest: “A friend loves at all times and a brother is born of adversity” (17:17) and “Wounds from a friend can be trusted” (27:6). Who our companions are says a lot about us, and who we are attracts companions of a similar worldview, character, and vision: “He who walks with the wise, grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm” (13:20). Worthy people seek worthy companions.
Companionship can be developed, and in a healthy way, with animals. People who own pets typically live longer. Pets brought into nursing homes can reinforce the wellbeing of the people who live there. Many true stories are told of pets that in their animal instinct and loyalty reached heights of heroism and nobility on behalf of distressed human masters.
Companionship is sometimes best appreciated when it’s not available, i.e., “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Or, “I miss you.”
But companionship is also a warm and precious thing to appreciate when it is available. When a friend stops in unexpectedly. When a pet bounds to the door at the end of a stressful day. When a loved one passes and others sit with you in silent support. When the arrival of grandkids is given away by the noise of their excited chatter, as in “The Marines, er, the grandkids have landed.” When the beloved spouse sits or works quietly nearby. When the Spirit of God communes with your needy heart.
If more people experienced true companionship the world would be a more pleasant place. God grant us more companionship.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011
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