When I was a senior in college, I was a part of the theatre program at my school. It was small, loving, open and supportive. Twice a week the members of the program would gather together for “Actors Lab” to work and play with one another through acting games, exercises and lessons. One-day, the head and associate theatre directors, Mark Hallen and Teresa Moyer, led us in an acting exercise called, “Weight Sharing.” It’s very similar to trust falls. The goal of the exercise is to learn how to support one another physically and emotionally on stage. Everyone breaks into pairs, and one person takes a “supportive stance” on all fours. The other person finds a way to lean on them. Whatever amount of weight they wanted to place on the other person, they gave them that full weight.
My partner was a girl nicknamed, “Elbows.” I had no problem letting Elbows lean on me, but I was nervous about resting on her, because she was very thin, and I was not. I was sitting by her side and resting my head on her back. Mark had been coaching the group through the exercise, and he added, “Don’t forget to breathe.” I took a deep breath and realized that I had been the one not breathing. Teresa laughed, “Yes, Alicia, that means you!” Mark joked, “Don’t pass out on us!” and they continued to tease me lovingly. I took a few deep breaths, laughed, said I was sorry and as I rested on Elbow’s back I tried to focus on my breathing and wondered why this was so hard for me. Everything was quiet until Mark’s voice pierced the silence saying, “But it’s hard, isn’t it? To let someone else carry you.”
We live in an Individualistic culture, which means that we value independence and doing things our own way. While there is value in our uniqueness (God created us each with a unique purpose and personality), we need other people in our lives. Too often we push people away or try to handle things by ourselves. We tend to let other people in our lives but on our terms and we hold back what we do not want others to see. But, we need people in all areas of our lives to carry us through the ups and downs of life.
In Genesis, after God creates Adam, He tells Adam to name all the animals. People say that dog is man’s best friend, but he was apparently not enough for Adam, because Adam was still very lonely. Think about that, Adam was living in paradise, could literally, physically walk with God every night and Adam was still lonely. God knew that Adam was lonely and said, “It is not good for man to be alone,” and then God created Eve. Even in the best scenario possible, God knows that we need relationships.
In the musical, Les Miserables, one of the last lines says, “To love another person is to see the face of God.” Relationships reflect the love that God has for us. There are examples of this throughout the Bible. Ruth sacrificed everything she knew to help Naomi and continue to show her love. Jesus left the glorious home of heaven because He loved us. Jonathan saved David from the wrath of King Saul and put him on the path that led to David’s destiny. Jesus saved us from sin and set us on the path to be co-heirs with Christ. Elijah prepared Elisha for a life walking with God before he was taken into heaven. Jesus gave us lessons and the Holy Spirit to guide us before He was taken into heaven. Joseph cared for and loved Mary, despite the world looking down on them because it was believed that Mary was not a virgin. Jesus loves and cares for us, though people have never stopped despising Him. God never meant for relationships to replace Him, He gave them to us so we could see and hear Him through each other.
Mark Hallen passed away five months after the weight sharing exercise. He was my mentor and friend and taught me more than just stage techniques. He taught me how to walk in my faith through the hardships of life. He taught me to lean on others and to be open to mistakes. When he died, I needed people to carry me. I went to church the Sunday after he passed away, and I was heartbroken. I sat down to write down some of my thoughts, when a woman quietly approached me. She said, “I’m sorry to bother you…you just look like you really need a hug. Can I give you a hug?” I didn’t know this woman, but I nodded and she gave me a long hug. I didn’t tell her why I needed a hug, because I figured that God sent her over to me, and He knew what was going on. That was only one of many experiences during that time when I had to let others carry me and I felt the comfort of God through them. God said that it’s not good for man to be alone. We need people in our lives to see the love of God and to walk with us through life.