It’s particularly unfortunate that the term chosen for physically distancing ourselves during the recent pandemic was “social distancing”. Because we are not created to remain socially distant/isolated from other human beings.
The toll shows. Elderly folks stuck behind doors, unable to talk freely and often with others withered away from isolation as often as the virus. It’s become obvious that children have suffered as well.
ALL of us need connection.
It doesn’t necessarily have to happen in a crowd. It doesn’t even have to be in person anymore (although that’s preferable).
As long as we can see one another, read body language, hear tone and bounce conversation back and forth, life-giving connection can happen.
Today, then, fast isolation. Meet a friend for coffee, call a cousin, visit a neighbor, or connect with a colleague. Purpose to link and be linked, to need and be needed, to see and be seen. Refuse to discount your influence, especially in small acts, and intentionally nurture your God-given web of relationships.
Alicia Britt Chole
Those of us who belong to Christ are connected ultimately by His grace, His blood and His Spirit.
We only have to reach out and embrace that connection to be refreshed and renewed. (Even if reaching out is virtual!)
**As promised, I am sharing thoughts on 40 DAYS OF DECREASE (a Lenten journal/devotional). If you choose to get and use the book yourself, I’ll be a day behind in sharing so as not to influence anyone else’s experience.**
I know these days so many of us are spending more time at home, more time alone.
For introverts or wounded hearts not having to turn down invitations can seem like a gift.
But it’s easy to slide from solitude (healthy, restorative alone time) into isolation (unhealthy, depleting separation). So I ask myself a few questions to help sort it out.
If you are feeling increasingly alone and forgotten, full of despair and abandoned, you might want to use this checklist too.
Even in this era of social (physical) distancing a heart can and absolutely should seek out community.
It’s what we were made for.
I’ve always loved my alone time.
As an introvert (who can, if pressed pretend not to be!) my energy is restored when I interact with one or two folks or no one at all. A dream afternoon is writing while listening to nothing louder than the wind chimes outside my door.
I treasure solitude.
Since Dominic ran ahead to Heaven, I find I need even more alone time than before.
That quiet place is where I do my most effective grief work, undisturbed by interruptions and distractions.
But I need to be careful that solitude doesn’t shift into isolation.
Jehovah is the God of promises made and promises kept.
From Genesis to Malachi, God sent prophets to proclaim the coming of Messiah.
And He used Mary and Joseph, willing servants of the Most High, to bring about His plan.
22-23 All this happened to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet—‘Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’. (“Immanuel” means “God with us.”)
24-25 When Joseph woke up he did what the angel had told him. He married Mary, but had no intercourse with her until she had given birth to a son. Then he gave him the name Jesus.
Matthew 1:22-25 PHILLIPS
Not only was Jesus the Child of promise, the Messiah, the Savior, He was God wrapped in flesh.
Fully God and fully human.
The King of all creation chose to subject Himself to it. He was born in the ordinary way though His conception was miraculous.
There are many religions in the world. But there is not a single other faith whose cornerstone is Deity come to earth.
Only Christianity can claim that our God left Heaven and took on flesh to dwell among His people and that makes all the difference.
Grief is isolating.
There are moments, days-even weeks-when I feel trapped inside an impermeable bubble of sorrow and pain. No human touch or words can pierce the armor around my heart.
I can’t pray, I can’t read my Bible, I can barely lift my head.
It’s then that Jesus comes to me gently, sweetly, with grace, compassion and love because He knows every single heartache I endure. He walked the earth and was betrayed, wounded, forsaken. He is not far off and unaware.
Immanuel-“God with us”-isn’t just a lofty theological concept.
It (He!) is a living reality.
In my weakest and most vulnerable moments, when I can’t conjure hope for myself, He brings it to me.
What does it mean to YOU that God took on flesh?
Have you ever thought about Jesus as a man, living like a man, hitting His thumb with a hammer, stubbing His toe, loving His mother and all the other things life means? Or do you simply think about the punctuated moments described in Scripture?
The writer of Hebrews says that because Jesus experienced humanity in every way we have a High Priest who sympathizes and understands our weakness. I find that liberating! How might embracing this truth encourage your heart to bring every request, lament, praise and doubt to the throne of grace?
When have you experienced the Presence of Jesus?
Your people waited long for their Messiah. After hundreds of years You didn’t just send just someone, You sent your own Son. Fully God, fully human. He walked among us. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around that idea.
But what I know from experience is that You ARE the God of Presence. You do not abandon me to despair. When I am most lonely and my heart is crushed under the weight of sorrow, help me remember that.
Give me the confidence to bring the good, bad and the ugly straight to the throne of grace. Remind me that though Heaven is your high and lofty holy dwelling place it’s not so far You can’t hear me.
And You DO hear me. You see me. You capture my tears and count them precious. Thank You for your promises. Thank You for your peace. Thank You for your Presence.
O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night and death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
“People will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou
It’s easy when you’re scared to shout loudly at whatever scapegoat crosses your path. But it’s hardly helpful.
My earnest hope in this season of worldwide fear is this: that people will show themselves to be more compassionate than they think they are, that communities will come together instead of falling apart and that while politicians may work hard to spin headlines one way or the other, citizens will insist on helping one another instead of hating one another.
A friend recently posted that not all the lessons of grief are bitter.
Some are sweet.
I’ve learned a lot on this journey. And one of the sweet things I’ve learned is that the best thing to offer fellow travelers is a bit of my heart instead of a piece of my mind.