I enjoy being alone. Sometimes there is nothing I love more. When I spend some quiet, slow moments by myself, I find it easier to relish God. His soft whisper of a voice becomes a little clearer. In my alone times, I can really process through things that need to be sorted out in my mind and soul. The busyness and demands of life can be pushed aside, even if it’s just for a little while. Sometimes my times of solitude last a little longer than I’d like, and sometimes they are arduous– but I know that in them I am never really alone.
We all need solitude.
I hate being lonely. Sometimes there is nothing I loathe more. I’ve had seasons in my life when I felt absolutely cut off from the rest of the world, invisible in the middle of a crowd. Even God seemed far away. In my efforts to appear strong, I built up walls that would prevent anyone from knowing who I really was… If they really knew, they would run for their lives. Therefore busyness and demands of life helped me push others aside– even those who were reaching out to me. Times of isolation can keep you longer than you ever wanted to stay.
We all need community.
As I live out these days of my life, few though they have been, I become more and more convinced of this fact. We all need community. Not a place to go on Sundays, but true community with other followers of Christ.
As I observe the paths of dear lovers of Jesus, myself included, I see that the road to destruction begins with isolation from other followers of Christ.
Isolation is a slippery slope. Whatever propels you into isolation, at first it seems a little more safe and comfortable; after all, it means you won’t get hurt. Or so you start off thinking.
You start to get used to no one really knowing what it is that you do with your time. Your friendships become more and more shallow. Before you know it, you’ve gone weeks or even months without having a meaningful, face-to-face conversation about how you are really doing deep down in your soul. God’s soft whisper of a voice gets drowned by thoughts like, “He doesn’t really know what’s best for me. If He did, I wouldn’t be here.” And once this seed of distrust is planted and starts to grow ugly, you look around and don’t see anyone who knows how or is willing to help you weed it out. So you come to accept it, prickly and thorny and exhausting as it is, and decide to just make the best of things on your own. But what you don’t see is that vine of distrust slowly winding itself around you, just waiting to choke the life out of you.
If there’s one thing I ask permission to beg of you today, it is this: please don’t let yourself stay isolated. All along the way, you always have a choice. I know from experience that it isn’t easy to put yourself out there, especially if you are more introverted, if you’ve really been burned by “organized religion,” or if you’re just plain uncomfortable around people you don’t know. And I know how hard it is to be the new guy, the outsider, and even feel sort of like an intruder. But you know what? When you find a group of true followers of Jesus, they’ll recognize this because they once were in your spot. And even though it may take a try or two on your part (they’ll be human too, after all), they’ll meet you halfway– your terrifying act of bravery will not go unnoticed.
Please, please don’t give up…