Cultivating My Spirit

Company Doesn't Equal Companionship

I’ve been in a long search for companionship. Some years ago, I believed that my desire for companionship could be filled in spurts, in a piece-meal fashion. I thought friends could fill the lonely void in my life. Then when the friends started marrying and having families, I sought to expand my circle by participating in various activities. All of my adult life, I’ve had a constant rotation of company that I mistook for companions. For conversation, there was Person A. For entertainment, there was Person B. For activity, there was Person C. I even had designated families to visit for my “dose of family.”

Having the option to fill time and space in a way that appears convenient to the momentary needs of your lifestyle can have the undesired effect of taking you away from what you’re truly seeking. In my case, that would be companionship.

Companion: a mate or a match for something
(dictiaonary.com)

Company: a number of individuals assembled or associated together; group of people; a guest or guests; an assemblage of persons for social purposes (dictionary.com)

See the difference? I do now.

During recent years, I’ve grown more and more distant from friends and less and less interested in exploring new circles. Though I initially thought something was wrong with me, I’ve since learned to embrace the solitude this separation has allowed me. Now I see more clearly that I had to be pulled away from the distractions that were keeping me from actively seeking what I wanted – or at the least kept me from preparing for what I wanted to receive. Though I’ve always wanted a companion to call my own, have been eager, in fact, to finally unite with my mate, I chose to spend time with people who in no way aided me towards my goal. In my case, they were already married and/or already had families. Though I was welcome at their kitchen table, I was still a stranger.

It didn’t click until this week that all the people rotating in and out of my life have only been company. I held on to many as if I was at risk of losing companions. Last weekend, I hosted my thirteen-year-old goddaughter. Spending time with her and my other godchildren had always been “mommy moments” of preparation for me – looking forward to a time when I won’t be able to return the child after a few days. It was a difficult visit – the most disturbing visit I’ve had from anyone throughout my life. She was non-responsive, non-communicative, disinterested in her surroundings and me. If I wanted to, I could count all the words she said to me during her five day visit. When I spoke to her, I got a blank stare, hunched shoulders or a “I dunno.” A couple of times I got a “sure” – when I asked if she wanted a cookie and again when I asked if she wanted to go for a bike ride through the city.

Through the years, I’ve spent a lot of one-on-one time with her. I’ve always enjoyed keeping her for weekends and longer visits. Not this time. This time I was well aware that she needed something that I couldn’t give her. She needs someone in her daily life who can see she is troubled, help her trace her problems to their root and do something about them. She needs a more attentive and proactive mother. The mother she has is mostly hands-off and insists that her thirteen-year-old is just being thirteen.

The biggest takeaway from the time with my goddaughter last weekend is that other people and their families are not my family. As much as I’ve tried to insert myself into their family units, I’ve been reminded by their repeated rejections that I don’t belong. I am not one of them. Despite the closeness and history of our connection, I will always be an outsider to any family unit other than my own. That may sound like a harsh statement, and believe me, it was a painful reality to face – in fact, it has taken several such disappointing situations for me to recognize the truth of it. No amount of filling my time and space with company is going to satisfy my desire to have my own mate – my match, my companion. No amount of time with someone else’s child is going to satisfy my desire to have my own children – to be a constant and persistent parental presence in their lives, to guide and train them in the way in which they should continue. I finally realize and admit that I’m tired of having only fractured and limited contributions and interactions. I don’t discount the benefit to the recipient, but it has become a heavy, disheartening burden for me.

For the past few weeks, I have been pouring over the first two chapters of Genesis. Every line in those two chapters has spoken to me in new ways during this study. I’ve been reminded of God’s intentions for our marital relationships. Genesis 2:18 states:

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” 19 So the Lord God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one. 20 He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him.  (Genesis 2:18-20 NLT)

I find it interesting that God stated that He would make a helper/companion suitable for Adam and the next verse states that He presented Adam with animals formed from the ground.

Adam performed his duty and named all the animals, but we are told in verse 2:20b that “still there was no helper just right for him.” To me, that implies that God was testing Adam with alternative distractions/choices, to see if Adam would accept just any creature as his companion. The naming process had to go on for quite some time as God formed ALL the wild animals and ALL the birds of the sky from the ground and presented them to Adam for naming. {Please note Adam did not identify the dog as his best friend.} No animal was identified for special handling or relationship. But verse 2:20b implies that all the creatures were presented as possible companions because “still”there was no helper just right for him (Adam).

As I illustrated with my own experiences above, we can be deceived by the many choices presented to us in the world. Day after day, we may choose to live in a way that compliments the lifestyle we think we want and it may be years before we realize what we wanted took us far away from what we needed.

Adam wasn’t distracted. In his perfect state, he heard God’s word, “I will make a helper who is just right” for YOU. Adam had already received his mandate to tend and watch over the Garden of Eden. He was functioning within his role when God brought the animals to him for naming. When God presented the woman to Adam, he immediately recognized her as his companion because she was formed from him. Some of him was in her and he recognized that. He hinted at his long wait for the fulfillment of God’s promise when he exclaimed, “At last! This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh!” Nothing else God made and presented to Adam resonated with him, only Eve resonated and connected.

Not everyone is fit to be a companion for you, not even in a piece-meal, day-by-day fashion. The stuff each of us is made of fits perfectly with someone else and their stuff (for the fulfillment of God’s purposes, not our ideals of a perfect mate). When two people are united, they are continually sealed by sharing their daily lives together. The troubles of one become the troubles of the other. The joy of one becomes the joy of the other. It’s in navigating the challenges and changes in life together that each becomes the helper of the other. That’s true companionship. Anything less than the full sharing of life is just company.

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