Lean on Me


It is an odd reality that we spend most of our lives living independently of others, making our mark, doing the Frank Sinatra “My Way” lifestyle. I say it’s odd because life began being carried, grew being nurtured and it usually ends in the care of others and sometimes in the care of one you hardly even know. 

I wonder at what age dependence is left for independence, when submission becomes resistance, humility is replaced by pride and obedience becomes expected of others as a new ruler is “matured”. My guess is that most of us growing up have moved through these stages and not given them much thought. We rejoiced to become our own person while perhaps shedding an acknowledging tear as our children do the same. We might even drop a prayer to the God we do, or don’t, believe in, hoping that we and our children are not as bad as other independent, resistant, proud, rulers we have to live with.

But is independence, resistance, pride and rule really the most appropriate journey into destination adulthood. Has this journey gone unassessed as though it is the normal trajectory? 

Let me offer an alternative. Rather than independence shouldn’t communities prize interdependence which places value on more than just the self?  Rather than resistance, are not communities grown when people show deference to one another.  Do not communities suffer when individual hubris seeks to trump the meekness that Jesus said would inherit the earth? And when independent, resistant, proud individuals rule, as they always want to, then the rule of law for community is bound to suffer. 

Independence, resistance, pride and rule are perfect soil for the habitation of hermits but they are poison for community. These are the characteristics of a culture bent in on itself and they create tyrants. 

Thoughtful, moral interdependence, submission, humility and obedience should not be confused with a weak compliance but applauded as the wise qualities that advance the welfare of an entire community. 

As children we learnt to lean on our parents and communities succeed when we lean on each other. It’s a wisdom taught from birth if you are prepared to heed the lesson.  We also know that trust is crucial to leaning and that life brings moments that require the strength and trustworthiness greater than an observed community can offer. That is when having God at the centre of our community is the communities greatest resource. 

Someone has said “Faith is leaning your whole weight on God”. Interdependence is seen in the way Jesus Christ worked with God the Father and His church. He was not resistant to submitting to death on a cross but was obedient to the will of God because he knew that a sinful world would need someone to lean on for forgiveness. That is community building at its best.  The Bible’s response is this, “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us” 

The Church may have housed independent, resistant, proud, rulers in the past but that makes it no different to homes and places of commerce, schools, and sporting groups. The difference is that in church God still speaks through the Bible exposing such people for what they are. From time to time, God in His mercy, saves such us from ourselves, forgives us for what we have been and makes  us to be a blessing to others. Church is full of such examples of which I am one — part of a community that is interdependent, submissive, humble and obedient and one you can lean on.

When life comes to its end interdependence in this world is forced upon you and when death comes dependence on God will be a no brainer.