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Friday, August 4, 2017

Solitude versus Isolation

Jesus models the importance of solitude, but it is a very fine line to walk between solitude  and isolation.  As a busy mom, I usually have to make time for solitude; time in nature, for prayer, and in God's Word.  But in times of pain and hurt, I can naturally slip into isolation.

Isolation is not the same thing as Solitude.

Solitude allows you time away to refresh and renew your spirit.

Isolation cuts you off from help.

Your enemy wants you isolated; he is cowardly lion who picks off the stragglers who have separated themselves from the herd.

Solitude is an important life discipline that everyone should practice because Jesus showed us the importance of it, but just like every wonderful thing that God created,  Satan has tried to twist it into something that hurts us.

Some times we isolate ourselves thinking that it's just part of our personality, but that is another tactic of the enemy.

The tendency to isolate ourselves is not a personality issue, it is a human issue.

People who like to be alone can still get lonely. People need people. Don't isolate yourself under the guise of introversion.

Our different personalities may change the motivation behind the isolation, but all humans have the tendency to isolate in times of suffering. Some personalities isolate to avoid conflict, while some do it to avoid  being viewed as needy.

Pride can be my downfall when trying to walk this line between refreshing solitude and dangerous isolation. I hate admitting that I am in need, and I hate asking others for help, for fear that I will be "too much" for them.

Those who are too scared to admit they are lost or wounded are the most vulnerable. Our enemy has zero scruples, and he is not above picking off the injured, the ones were are struggling to keep up.  Satan will not only kick you while you are down, he will put on his steel-toed boots to do it.

A few years ago I experienced a season where I had nothing to give and relied solely on the people in my life to keep me afloat. I was attacked from all different directions and weary of admitting how weak and wounded I was, it was embarrassing to admit that I was emotionally drowning. But if I had not sought out healing through community, I would not have survived that season.

The last thing your Heavenly Father wants for you is to be isolated from help. He has help for you.

His help comes in the form of his Holy Spirit, and in the form of His Church. I have lost count how many times God wrapped His arms around me using the physical arms of His people.

I promise that someone in your life has walked the same path you are on, and survived. I can promise it  because God promises this in 1 Corinthians 1:4.
"Praise God, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." 2 Cor 1:4

 Secret sins and shame, others have been there.

 Broken bodies and broken hearts, others have been there.

Those who have walked this road, can walk it with you.  They can show the comfort that God showed them.

We live in an age of false intimacy where we think that sharing our problems online constitutes having a community, but a community has to go both ways. If you want people to truly invest in you, then you must invest time in them. You must have have face to face extensions of your online relationships. Sharing your hurts to the void online does not require the real bravery of vulnerability. Vulnerability requires showing up and allowing someone to see you and try to help you, real connection over complaining.

God's help comes in the form of Jesus' church, but you must seek out the intimacy and vulnerability of these relationships. On top of regular Church attendance , join a small group, a prayer group, or a Bible Study. Come into intentional contact with God's People on a regular basis and you will see God use them in your life.

Don't tell your story to just anyone, but discern and pray about a friend that God has for you.  They have walked their road with the purpose of encouraging you in yours. Because of prayer I have friends whose personal testimonies are so eerily similar to mine that there is no way God did not have a hand in it.

Prayer will lead you to the people who value connection over just complaining.  It's important to find people who will weep with you, and also help you take those steps towards healing. I've seen wounded people turn away from the church because they were encouraged to do the hard work of healing in God instead of quick fixes.

Remember that no one is perfect other than our Savior.  People can not not fix your life or your problems. While people cannot fix your problems,  God can use people to heal your heart  if you let him.
“Friendship ... is born at the moment when one man says to another "What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .” ― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Stay with the flock, and you stay with the Shepherd.


Our Need to Be Seen: How to be Vulnerable

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