My wife and I were watching a movie the other day about a young man who decided to move to Alaska and live all by himself in an old bus in the middle of nowhere. He felt was able to survive by himself without the companionship of other people. The movie portrayed a number of relationships that others tried to have with him but that he walked away from. He walked away from those relationships because he had been hurt by a close relationship he had in his childhood. That made him afraid to have another deep relationship. The movie then gave a very moving depiction of how he made a mistake in reading his book on plant life and accidentally ate a poisonous plant. Regretfully, that led to his death a few days later. He died as he had lived, isolated and alone. The movie was based on a true story that was portrayed in a popular book written by the young man’s family after his body was found several weeks later by hunters.
As I have reflected on that movie over the past few days it occurs to me that it is a picture of the lives of far too many young people. Many young people have been hurt in their lives and that hurt has caused them to emotionally isolate themselves from those around them. They think they can make it all on their own without other people. But God has designed us to need each other. We need relationships with others. Even though we can be hurt by relationships, we really cannot live without them. Had that young man in the movie had some other people with him, they might have noticed when he mistook a poisonous plant for an edible one. Or perhaps they would have been able to help him hike back to town and seek medical help. Even if he felt he really needed some time alone, had he been willing to share his life with others, they would have known where he was and could have come looking for him when he did not return. Unfortunately since he told no one where he had gone, no one could come rescue him. The story had a sad ending, but what made it even sadder was that it did not have to end that way. He did not have to die alone and isolated far from home in an abandoned school bus. But he was not willing to open himself up to other people and trust them. His determination to do it all on his own resulted in his untimely and tragic death.
As I think about how all this relates to the young adults I minister to, it becomes obvious to me that I must help young adults be willing to trust. I must help them be willing to open themselves up to having deep and meaningful relationships. Even though we may have been hurt in the past, and there is a chance we may be hurt in the future, the reality is, we cannot live happy productive lives without relationships. Relationships are a risk, but we must realize that relationships are a risk worth taking.