Friday, January 30, 2015

Isolation. Isolation is a major dilemma facing God's people today. It is even at times, encouraged from other believers, with the sense that, "Leadership is lonely; being set apart is lonely; or you sometimes have to walk alone." 

But this is a lie. Isolation is not of God. Period. 

Lets look back first at the garden of Eden. God created Adam and what did He say? And the Lord God said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him." (Genesis 2:18) From the beginning of creation God saw the heart of man and knew that it was not good that he be isolated or alone. Many people have become emotionally and relationally cut-off from others. Everyone seems to be leading busy lives yet often we are not connected to others for any real deep purpose. When we are under pressure, or our relationships are suffering, or life has too many unpleasant surprises we are often tempted to keep these things to ourselves. 

Isolation is more than just not having someone to talk with. Isolation weakens our spiritual defenses. We often forget that we are in a spiritual battle every day. This is a war for our spiritual well-being, our effectiveness for God, and our impact on those closest to us. Isolation from others is deadly. 

Isolation stunts spiritual growth and opens us up to spiritual attack. 

Paul stated in Romans 7:21, "I find this law at work: When I want to do good evil is right there with me." Without other strong believers around us we fall prey to attacks that we can easily feel defeated by. We don't talk about our situation, we don't listen to others wisdom and we don't seek it out. The enemy wants to get you alone because than you are easily swayed. When there are other praying and scripture reading believers around you, he will attack, sure, but you are less likely to fall because you have the voice of reason (scripture and wisdom from others) helping to keep you grounded. 

How do I know if I am isolating myself or if I'm just resting in Solitude?

Isolation is simple; it's the attempt to be alone or spend a lot of time alone so you don't have to open up on a deeper level. You don't want to expose certain area of your life or you may even feel the need to protect certain things. Sometimes a vicious cycle can develop where the more time you spend alone, the less you feel like people understand you, and the less you feel like people understand you, the more time you want to spend alone. 

Isolating yourself can cause a lot of problems both spiritually and naturally. Spiritually you may feel justified but God never intended for people to be alone. He created community and the helper for a reason. When you are spiritually isolated you could be bound in chains and affection, while you could be praying and reading your bible a lot you still don't reach your potential growth because you aren't being sharpened by another brother, and you could be walking in deceit and opening yourself up to spiritual attacks from the enemy. 

Some of the effects of isolation can include feelings of loneliness, alcohol or drug problems, trouble sleeping and can even lead to depression. 

Be aware that some may encourage isolation or loneliness based off a judgment such as not being "equal to someone" or a particular group of people. You can be in an intimate relationship or friendship with someone who is on a different spiritual level or who are gifted in different areas. 

With solitude there is an understanding that you are never alone --- God is always with us. Solitude can be refreshing and restful and provide a moment of peace and clarity for us. However solitude is an afternoon of peace or journaling, a weekend away camping to focus on God. Solitude never takes us away for long. Jesus was never off by himself for months at a time. 
Photo by Alan Derwin

Loneliness; a choice or a state of being? 

Loneliness is a powerful trigger towards isolation and often leads to spiritual deceit, chains, and even risky behavior. A husband who convinces himself that he cannot open to his wife, or that no one around him could understand what he's struggling with, buys into the lie the enemy is setting him up for. He begins to isolate himself, not talking to anyone, not attending his small groups. Then in walks the gorgeous blonde at work who makes him feel safe, secure, heard; and thus an affair begins. Although he was intoxicated by isolation and fantasy, he had to know that it would lead to that affair - yet he continued down that path anyway. Until he couldn't turn around anymore, at least felt like that. But like with Adam and Eve who hid themselves in the garden, God knew exactly where he was. And God intervened and revealed the lie. 

Loneliness, while a feeling we feel as humans, is still a choice. As the enemy of our souls roars and throws the bait into our path, we learn to step over it -- being obedient to the word of truth that lives within us. We learn to live like we really are in Christ. We learn to take our stand in faith with our feet planted -- not moved by the insanity that is around us. Even though you may feel lonely, you are not. You can reach out to others and actively seek community. 

The enemy has gone before us, friends, preparing the bait to move us towards that trap. Just as a hunter guides his prey down the path of destruction before it's too late for the prey to escape. The enemy is well aware of our weaknesses that triggers us to lean towards isolation. He doesn't want you free. He wants you bound; he wants you constricted, he wants you in chains. He knows these things not because he can read our minds but because he's been studying our behavior. He's an incredible observer.

Lets be sober minded. 1 Peter 5:8 "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." When we isolate, we attempt to resolve the problems in our life or figure out serious life decisions or even plan our future apartment from anyone and everyone else. We pull away from family, friends, church our spouses - even sometimes God, to do what we want to do; to protect what we believe we need to protect because others don't agree, because we don't trust, or we think "they won't understand." Although we may think we are in the right and are doing well, the enemy is watching and he sees that you are alone and he's ready to attack. 

Think on these three questions:

What type of things trigger you to want to isolate yourself?

In these types of things what behaviors are associated with that isolation?

What do you need to do to overcome isolation?

1 comment:

  1. This is so timely. I usually feel isolated when I'm not included, which then makes me think about why I'm not included: I'm too old, I'm not married, I'm introverted, I'm different, nobody understands me, etc. In order to overcome the isolation I have to stop focusing on what I don't have or what makes me different and understand why God made me that that I can establish relationships with others struggling with the same things.