“How do I get you alone??”
This is a question our enemy whispers and ponders around us daily as he seeks to cut us off from the life of our King and sever our life-giving connections with each other.
Isolation is a killer and sometimes it’s not as obvious as living on a desert island. Isolation can happen on a soul level, affecting our mind, will and emotions and impacting or relationships or even on a spiritual level, affecting our faith. It’s a tricky trap so here’s 4 ways you can tell if you’re isolated or isolating yourself.
1) You rarely ask for advice.
Proverbs says that the wise actually love being told when their wrong (12:1) and the righteous like being taught (9:9)! They love it! If you hardly ever ask for advice or you hate getting it, the Bible is calling you stupid. I’m calling you proud. No, it’s not a compliment. What are you gonna do about it? Ignore me? Thought so.
Pride is so self-assured and self-focused that it leaves us to only draw on our own limited life experiences and what we glean from books we read and things we learn ourselves. We take these things and have to work through processing them into wisdom. This has it’s place but there are those who have walked several steps ahead of us in life and they have already processed this stuff and can hand it to us for free but it takes humility to receive these “hand-outs.”
It’s like me needing a table and going to cut down a tree with sandpaper, screws and polish at the ready just so I can say it’s MY table. I made it myself. I’m a strong independent…you get it. It’s a pride thing. Deal with it.
2) You only listen to God.
Whoa whoa! What are you saying?? People shouldn’t listen to God??
Come on now don’t be ridiculous. This is similar to #1. Of course we should we should discern the voice and leading of the Holy Spirit in our life decisions but we can spiritually isolate ourselves when we start to believe that He will only speak to us directly and not through the people and leaders He has put in our life.
This can come from a genuine seeking to honour God and put Him first and not be swayed by the fear of or opinions of Man but it can also come from having issues with control and problems with authority, both of which stem from…Pride.
Yes the Lord is our shepherd but He also gives us shepherds after His own heart to lead us. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to find shepherds after YOUR own heart before you’ll listen to anybody…
3) You never tell anyone your problems.
This can be a tough one for the people who just love to serve and help others. The heroes who stay up late to listen to others’ sob-stories and who go out of their way to support and encourage the broken. These people can start to feel as though they always have to be “strong.” They always need to put on a “brave” face.
I have definitely lived a long time as one of these. I actually didn’t cry for 10 years partly due to the fact that I had to keep it together because I was constantly tending to crying people. I had to be strong for them. Right?
Well… This is a great way to emotionally isolate yourself. You end up feeling like no one understands you or really knows you because…well…they don’t. You never share the things that have hurt or are hurting you with anyone and so you hide a large portion of who you are from even those “closest” to you. This means you never actually let anyone love you in the place where you hurt the most. They may look at you with admiration for a while but they will also drift away from you ultimatey because you’re not connecting on an emotional level.
When you convince people you don’t have emotions, bad is them believing you, worse is you believing you, worst is both. People stop asking if you’re ok or if you need help so the natural times you could receive either dry up and you’re left feeling like no one really cares for. But it doesn’t matter right? Because you’re here to serve and not be served right?
Have a word with yourself!
This desire to keep up the façade of being emotionally invincible is rooted in fear and…you guessed it! Pride.
You start thinking that you need to look strong so people are confident to share with you. You start thinking that your problems are so big they would crush “normal” people. It starts becoming about you and develops into a fear of being exposed, a fear of being a “burden” and ultimately it leaves you isolated and cut off from the true intimacy, love and friendship which you desperately need.
Even Jesus showed His distress to His close friends. Get on it! Text someone right now saying “Can I please talk to you about something?” And go from there.
4) You secretly sin.
Here’s another great way to isolate yourself spiritually. You start giving in to a temptation but you realise you can do it without being caught. No one else knows and it’s very unlikely they’ll find out. So you carry it on. It becomes part if your normal life. You may even stop feeling guilty about it but you’re careful to keep it concealed from certain people.
This can be another tough one. I know this personally because sadly I’ve had a few experiences where friends have felt it difficult to confess sexual sin to me because of My Story and the standards I have tried to promote among Christians and live by.
When we’re afriad of letting people down or them being disappointed in us it can make stepping out if the shadows 10 times harder. But these can be the best people to talk to because they carry the conviction that we’ve lost and desperately need to get back!
If they’re a good friend and not a controlling, legalistic nutjob, they can challenge us, encourage us, keep us accountable and point us to Christ. These can grow into some of the deepest, richest and most fulfilling and fruitful friendships if we let them. But of course we have to deal the deathblow to our pride to make this step.
So how are you going to de-isolate yourself? Because although isolating yourself may have happened without you noticing, it’s not going to happen by accident. You’re going to need to make solid decisions on what you’re going to change in your life to get you planted in the soil of empowering Christ-centred community and keep you from getting isolated or staying isolated in the future. What is your De-Icer? Sorry for the bad pun but maybe it will stick in your head…
Why don’t you share this post with a friend or friendship group (or even some of your church leaders) you want to work through this with?
If you have any stories you want to share on overcoming isolation, go for it in the comment section below or on Facebook!
Thanks for reading!