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Posts from the ‘Isolation’ Category

Are You Hiding or Resting?

On occasion, I kick my husband out of bed.  Not because he makes me mad. Not because he snores. Not because he’s a bum.  I kick him out because we reserve the right in our house to call one another’s bluff if we believe the other is “hiding” and not legitimately resting.

Can you distinguish the difference?

Hiding is wrapped in fear, defeat, dread, paranoia, isolation, being overwhelmed.

When we hide, we take matters into our own hands.  There is a tension we want broken, and we aim to cut it with sleep, withdrawal, darkness.  We wake to find sleep was not the cure for exhaustion, possibly because exhaustion was not the culprit.

Rest is intertwined with solitude, retreat, focus, comfort, even worship.

When we rest, there is a relaxed submission about us, a hope that surrounds us.  We are able to be tired and overwhelmed with our circumstances, yet at peace.  We are at peace because of surrendering control of our situation.

The Lord provides rest; it may come in the form of sleep but not always.  And, he is the only one capable of providing rest in the midst of our turmoil.  We often look for rest outside of or around or after our circumstances, but he provides rest “in the middle.”

Thus says the LORD:
“Stand by the roads, and look,
and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it,
and find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

How can you differentiate for yourself if you are hiding or resting?  Once it’s been brought to your attention, there shouldn’t be any trouble telling the difference between the two.  Next, determine what you’re hiding from if that’s the case. I usually hide because I’m overwhelmed or paranoid.  Chris usually hides because he feels defeated or is dreading something.  The most difficult part is giving over our control. But, when we find rest for our souls and realize he doesn’t lay anything heavy on us, how can we decline?

He beckons: Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.  (The Message)

Are you hiding from your circumstances, or are you resting in the Lord?

The Fear of Coming Clean

There is fear in coming clean.

I fear what others will think of me when I say:

I’ve neglected prayer for weeks. When I’ve chosen to pray, I’ve only sought God for what he can give and not God Himself.

I’ve yelled at my kids so loud they’ve cried.

I spent months last year being angry, then sad over being a new pastor’s wife because of expectations I made up in my mind.

I said something so mean about someone that I spent the rest of the day embarrassed, beating myself up over my gossip.

We fear being honest about who we are because we don’t want to be rejected, unloved, cast-out.  Many of us have been faced with that treatment before, and we’re not willing to take a chance again.  We fear being honest because we think we’re alone.  We see ourselves as the only ones with the struggle we’re facing, as if everyone else has it together.  We fear being honest because we believe our sin is detestable. What we’ve done is worse than others, and it needs to be kept secret.

The Lord has a word for our fear.

Do not be afraid.  There is no love greater than the Father’s love, and there are people willing to care for you in your sin and hurt.  There is no greater lie than the lie that God does not love you and that you will be rejected by his people.  “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” (1 John 3:1)

Do not be afraid.  You are not alone.  If I believe I am the only one being greedy, angry, sad, embarrassed and mean, I’m believing a lie, and you are too.  Being isolated in our sin is dangerous, but shedding light on our sin brings truth and future comfort for others.

Do not be afraid.  There is no sin too big for grace.  “For as by the one man’s [Adam] disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s [Christ] obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:19-21)

This may be an old lesson for you.  It is for me. Let’s not fool ourselves.  Some of us have learned the art of confessing well, so that we are able to still hide the sin we choose.  We must continually be breaking through fear to reach true honesty.

Why come clean? Because we can. We have nothing to hide under the righteousness and perfection of Christ. We are free to be honest about who we are, and we need not be afraid.

What do you need to come clean about today?

In A Bad Place With A Good Friend

I called a friend this week and started the conversation this way:  If I were you, and this were me calling, I wouldn’t have answered the phone!

I am in a bad place, and I have a good friend.  

I’ve been in this bad spot before where life seems hard and overwhelming.  My words are negative, and my feelings are wounded.  I’m paranoid.  Spiritually, I’m on a roller-coaster, wrestling with God.  I feel it would be better to stay home because the ugliness of my life will just rub off on everyone.  The more I try to hold it in, the more it breaks through.  Struggling is where I am, and it can’t be wrapped with a pretty Christian bow that most would like to see.

What makes my friend good is her love for me and my struggle.  She’s not trying to make it right.  My rants do not frighten her or change her opinion of me.  She’s fine with knowing me, the one who is overwhelmed, negative, wounded.  It’s humbling to have a friend see the ugliness of your life and not walk away.

My friend and I were discussing isolation and the hows and whys of our withdrawing, and she pointed out something that has really caught my attention:

Sometimes we isolate ourselves, but sometimes, we push others into isolation.  When Christians are in a “bad place,” we don’t always want to deal with them, so we push them away.  We push them to isolation to work through their own “too hard, too negative, too draining” to deal with issues.

Transparency is what we ask for in the Church, but we have to decide if that’s what we really want.  Do you really want to know someone, and are you prepared to love them no matter what comes out?  We must be more careful in asking those around us to be transparent.  If not handled responsibly, we risk shutting them down, sending them into isolation.

Walking alongside someone in a bad place is what we have to be about — Seeing them through a tough time and not rejecting them just because their bad time doesn’t make us feel good.  I’m pretty sure I’m one step higher out of the pit because a good friend answered her phone in my bad place.

Isolation: Enemy of the Believer

Isolation is an enemy of the believer.  We were meant to be in fellowship with one another, so when we’re not, our lives are out of balance.  If you’re like me, isolation is one of those things that slips up on you — like realizing you’re out of shape after 6 months of not exercising.

I tend to isolate myself.  It’s a weakness.  Because it’s a weakness, I don’t always know I’m doing it, and because it’s a weakness, I’m pretty good at covering it up.

I’ve tried to pinpoint the reasons I isolate myself, and I’ve realized a couple.  One is because I don’t mind being alone.  I need my alone time, and when life is overwhelming, I need my space.  I don’t really see any harm in that.  But the other is far more harmful; I withdraw when someone has hurt me.  When I’ve been hurt, I isolate myself, and I will let one person keep me from hundreds.  Unfortunately, 6 months can pass before I recognize what I’m doing.

Are you isolated?  What causes you to withdraw?  Are you sitting in your home alone, at your desk, in the coffee shop assuming things in your mind that may not be true?

The gospel is the truth that opens our eyes, and other believers must have a door into our lives to listen and speak that truth.  Our isolation has to be shattered.  If we continue to live our lives withdrawn, believing lies, we will sit stagnant, living as orphans without hope, and that is not who we are.

But, if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another. 1 John 1:7