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My wife and I vacationed with some very close friends in the North Georgia Mountains this past weekend. We were all sitting around the fire ring on Friday night. Laughter abounded. Friendship filled the air. In the midst of the fun, I excused myself and retired to bed. My MS sometimes causes me to pull away and isolate myself. A desire to isolate one’s self is a common MS symptom. It isn’t healthy. Neither is being an isolated Christian! We were not meant to journey alone. Please read more…
As we sat around the fire ring, the sparks rose from the fire dancing their way up to meet the stars that dotted the vast night sky. We reminisced over years gone by. Yet, even in this idyllic setting, my MS caused me to retreat inside myself. I was not enjoying the evening, nor laughing as much as the others. My thoughts drifted to a lonely space inside. I felt a need to be alone. I left and headed indoors to go to bed. That’s enough about me.
I only used my story above to illustrate a broader point. Permit me to ask you a few questions. Have you ever felt the need to isolate yourself? What caused you to feel the need to pull away? Many things in life can weigh heavy on us. Grief can weigh on us like a wet blanket. Loneliness can creep in and attack us in the midst of a crowded room. The headlines of the day can bring us down. Friends can say and or do things that make us mad and cause us to pull away. Long term illnesses can zap our strength. Financial pressures can cause distress. Family problems can be taxing. Some days the joy in life can seem to drain away.
There are other days where our exuberance and over confidence prompts us to believe that we have all of the answers. We think we can tackle the world on our own. This is never true.
The real fact is this, we are designed by our creator to be communal people. Whether we are in the storms of life or feel as if we are on top of the world, we need to be with other people. God created us this way.
Genesis 2:18 states: “The LORD God said: It is not good for the man to be alone.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says it this way: “Two are better than one: They get a good wage for their toil. If the one falls, the other will help the fallen one. But woe to the solitary person! If that one should fall, there is no other to help.”
Ecclesiastes 4:12 gives us guidance. It can be dissected into three separate parts. We are given a warning, a recommendation and hope. Here is the warning: “one alone may be overcome.” Here is the recommendation: “two together can resist.” Finally, we find hope in these words: “a three-ply cord is not easily broken.”
Simply stated, living in Christian fellowship is the best way to live. Essentially it is a must. We gain some powerful words of wisdom when in Galatians 6:2 we read: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Hebrews 10:25 has this to tell us: “We should not stay away from our assembly, as is the custom of some, but encourage one another.”
The Bible is clear on the necessity of Christian community. God does not want us to journey alone through life. Life has its challenges. Sometimes we need a helping hand. Sometimes we need a sympathetic ear to listen to us. Sometimes we need consoling. Sometimes we just need to know that others care. We always need to be loved.
Our own sin can weigh us down and living in a broken world can occasionally rob us of the joys of life. Whether it is our sin or the effects of this broken world that attempt to drive us into isolation, we must try to resist doing so. Being surrounded by caring friends can make all of the difference in the world.
Sure there are times where a little solitude is a welcomed escape from the noise of life. Stillness in proper doses can be healing. But this does not change our innate need for community.
I must complete the story I started with. We spent the rest of the weekend with these friends. My desire to isolate myself quickly evaporated on Saturday morning. It was washed away by the love of these good friends. Their love for life and our shared love for Jesus Christ filled the balance of our time together.
In summary, let’s remember that as Christians we are all part of the one body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:21 tells us: “The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I do not need you.” Further on in verse 26 it states: “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.”
If you are feeling alone or isolated, please let someone know. If you know someone who is drawing away, reach out to them today.
Heavenly Father, please keep me in your care and always surround me with caring people who share a common love for your Son Jesus. Keep me from ever feeling alone. Amen.
As always, I love to read your comments below as well as hear from you personally by clicking here.
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My husband died April 7 of this year. He was the fun, social, outgoing one. Since he has gone I have been very lonely. It was a surprise to me that no one calls, drops by. Not even people who I thought of as good friends. When I see people they say, “ I think about you all the time,” but nevertheless, only one friend stops by. It makes me feel that everyone was John’s friend, not mine. People tell me that no one calls or comes because they don’t know what to say. Maybe some are offended by thoughtless comments but I’d say any comment is better than silence. I do go out to lunch with people every so often, but it’s usually me arranging it. I am trying to accept this as God’s will for me right now but it’s hard. I surely didn’t expect to lose my husband of 51 years and every one else as well.
Thank you for the courage it took to post this message. Reading it broke my heart. My hope is that everyone who reads this will say a prayer for you. I pray that God will send good and caring friends your way. You are in my prayers.
Your insight is remarkable, every Tuesday I’m enlighten by your 4th Day Letter. The folks that were in attendance at the retreat, still referrence what you talked about, you made an impact.
God be with you,
Thank you for your extremely kind words.
May God’s blessings be with you!
Dear Brian. You have words that speak to my heart. Bless you. May God keep you in his living arms always. Sister in Christ. DeColores. Felicia s
Thank you for your kind words. May God’s peace and love surround you this day.
This was a good word; I’m going to share it if you don’t mind! 🙂 Christian friends and fellowship within the Body of Christ is essential to our physical, emotional and spiritual health. Your thoughts emphasize all three!
Thank you for sharing your heart, for your transparency, and for allowing God to use you to encourage others in such a meaningful way!
By all means please do share this message with anyone who you think will benefit from reading it. Thanks for your post.
I always enjoy your 4th day letters and our conversations, my friend. Last month, when I lost my 28 yr. old son, Josh, who had been struggling with issues, I am so thankful that I was not isolated. We had about 100 people come to his funeral; the support of my Christian brothers and sisters was over whelming and very much appreciated. Mary pointed out that only 4 people, other than family had ever met Joshua; yet they were there to support me and be in communion with each other at his funeral mass. I was so happy to see you walk through the door that day at the church. As you know Weekly Friendship Grouping is an integral part of my life; I can’t imagine my life without it.
May God Bless You, Your Family and your Ministry,
You and Mary have been a blessing to your Christian brothers and sisters so often that the least we could do is to be present for you in your time of need. May God continue to bring comfort and peace to you>
I thoroughly enjoyed and agree with your reflection on needing community, sharing my life with others and being a good listener as they share with me. I am an extravert which makes it easier for me to make myself available for others, but also that same nature prefers input from others as well. I can appreciate how much harder it is for an introvert. Sometimes we need to go upstream from our nature for our own betterment. I could go on…….but won’t!
God bless you & I continue to pray that the healing love and power of Jesus be washed over you! Patty in Burlington, ON
Thank you for posting here and thank you for listening and caring for others. May God’s blessings surround you.
Thanks for sharing with us another post and your own personal experiences!
I get very frazzled with a lot of social activity, it wears me out after any prolonged period. It never happens when I’m among people I know very well, but people I don’t know that well, often it always results in me needing to retreat and “recharge”. I didn’t know it when I signed up for it, but EMHC’s also serve as greeters for people coming into the Church building. The first few (well, several) times I helped serve it was really nerve-racking! I don’t know what it is about social interaction, but I think it has something to do with what seems analogue to synchronized swimming; there are proper greetings, times of when and how to respond, it’s like an intricate dance to me. I think some people just follow conversations naturally, but I’m always thinking about the structure of conversation and it gets taxing.
After the first few times helping to greet people and being x10 more social than I ever usually am, I found it didn’t tax me nearly as much. In fact, it’s a great outlet for me. Just saying “welcome” and getting a warm glance or smile in return is a much better outlet than getting lost in my own thoughts with no one to share with. And I remember sometimes in my own experience going to Church plagued with problems of the week and someone cheerfully opens the door, it’s not the being nice aspect that helps me shake out of it, it’s instead like a sharing of acknowledgement of dignity and humanity, remembering that even total strangers are my family.
The past few years I’ve been led through all sorts of life instances that have helped me illustrate the failings of consistent solitude. Without any sense of community or relationships and a positive outlet for them, love can easily turn to lust. Gratitude can easily turn to indifference. Peace can turn to chaos. Joy can turn to desolation. Kindness can grow cold. Trying to find fruitful avenues and outlets for my experiences in life have been very successful in finding and maintain joy away from spiritually dry spells. Sometimes it’s just letting a trusted friend or employee know I appreciate them. Sometimes it’s calling and talking to my family and letting them know I’m thankful for them.
Even as an introvert, I think what you’ve shared with us is really important, we can’t dispense with friendships and relationships, we need them in fact, and some of us can feed them in healthy ways differently but we should always seek to do it often.
When I’m like a rock and don’t feel like budging especially intent on shutting everything out, I try to contemplate on the parable of the talents; I’ve been blessed in so many ways and if I do nothing with that gift other than experience life better for myself, then I need to realize I’m being lazy and greedy, that I’ve robbed God of that gift by not fully reciprocating it with others because it’s not something I should merely take, use and bury. Sometimes that’s community, more often times than not it’s with individual people. But retreating inward by default is something I know I’m prone to do and to be watchful for.
Again, thanks so much for sharing, this topic in particular is often on my mind.
Thank you so much for your post. I truly appreciate your sharing. May God always surround you with loving Christian friends.