Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Isolation: A Dark Enemy (Part 1)

I have a friend that walks through my door whenever life begins to get tough.  He knocks loud and clear as I bend over vomit or pour over doctor's bills.  He finds me in the operating room at the hospital, and in the loud nursery at church with the other moms.  He shows up at baby showers, and even interrupts me as I mindlessly scan Facebook.

His name is familiar to all --  Isolation. 

And he doesn’t just stand knocking on an unanswered door.  I am guilty, regularly, of eagerly letting him in. 


It is the deep, dark, pit that screams that no one understands, no one cares, no one has ever walked this road before.

Isolation refuses comfort, disdaining the joys of others.

Isolation is a lonely, desperate, hopeless place that requires work – hard work – to get out of.

And the scariest part about it – I put myself there.  And I keep myself there. 

Isolation comes when I look at my life, my situation, and it all seems so complicated, so unusual,  so UNFAIR.  I paint a picture of other moms, whether real or fictitious, who I’ve determined have it easier.  Have it better.    I compare the best of others' circumstances with the worst of my own, and I withdraw, resent, and inevitably, choose isolation. 

Isolation doesn’t play favorites.  It affects everyone – anyone who is willing to focus on their circumstances long enough to think they’re alone.

It manifests itself in attitudes like this:

They couldn’t understand.  They’re in a different life stage.
She has what I’ve prayed for forever.
No one has a child like mine.  A family like mine. A budget like mine. A boss like mine.  A past like mine.  A future like mine.
Yeah, but, at least you have (fill in the blank…)

It seems harmless, it seems reasonable, it almost seems strangely comforting, to arrogantly assume that no one can understand.  But isolation comes at great cost.

In fact, ISOLATION is one of the greatest dangers of the church. 

The great Charles Spurgeon knew it, when he penned:  “Satan hates Christian fellowship; it is his policy to keep Christians apart. Anything which can divide saints from one another he delights in. He attaches far more importance to godly intercourse than we do. Since union is strength, he does his best to promote separation.”
And what better way to promote separation among Christians, than for the Christian himself to pull away?  Because isolated people are hurt people – people who believe that others, and ultimately God – cannot relate nor help.   And too often, isolated people don’t actually want help.  They prefer to stay isolated.  In a strange, backwards way, isolation carries with it a subtle pride in the fact that no one can understand.

But isolation is always self-destructive.  The isolated person cuts herself off from the life-giving community that God intended.  She continues to grow bitter, alienated, and unable and unwilling to receive help and comfort. 

But there is hope.  There is always hope – even for the most isolated of people. 

If you’ve ever felt isolated, alone, unknown – would you join me for the next few weeks as we consider the great God who fashioned us for community?  He is calling us out of isolation and into joyful, knowable, unified relationships with others.