No joke. Somebody’s always knocking, ringing the doorbell, calling, texting, emailing... Someone wants something. When I wrestle with “Let Me In” vs “Leave Me Alone,” LMA usually initials the high score. I suspect that the era in which I let everyone in may have helped form my soul’s current enclave.
If you’re wondering how I can have over 500 facebook friends and still have isolation issues… There are too many anomalies to number in my life. I’m a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside and enigma who constantly reapplies lip gloss. I am an extravert and an introvert. I am conservative and liberal. I am naughty and nice. I am Elphaba and Glinda.
Everyone keeps others at arm’s length to some extent. It’s healthy to have boundaries. Letting people out may be more of an issue for some of you! Jesus knew the value of retreating from the world to be with the Father. But maybe a look at my tendency to set up camp there can help us all strike a better balance.
Isolation is no longer reserved for monks, hermits or those in solitary confinement. It’s often shrouded by busyness, even the constant activity of ministry. The size of your family, your congregation or your facebook friends list is no indication of whether or not your soul is isolated.
I’m filthy rich when it comes to having several deep and abiding spiritual friendships in my life. I’d elaborate, but it might lead you to envy! I’ll just say I’m blessed beyond. My battle is to become more engaged in relationships that are right in front of me instead of continuing to lean on my tried and true to the exclusion of others.
The price I’ve paid: Stagnation looms. My local community, my dating life and my spiritual benevolence are all lacking because of constant retreat into my small fortress.
In examining why, I come closer to the core. Let’s count the reasons we can justify…
Wounded in the past always ranks big. Then there’s fear. Fear of being judged, embarrassed, humiliated, rejected… Or fear of being revealed: I’m boring, I’m pathetic, I’m a disappointment, I’m inadequate, I’m not smart, I’m faking it, I’m a hoarder, I’m ashamed, I’m difficult, I’m selfish, My marriage is on life support, I’m not a good mother, I cannot handle life’s pressures, I’m too stunted, stuck, sad…. The bricks of legitimate woes mingled with the indistinguishable bricks of perceived woes build the impenetrable wall.
So we carefully construct how we present ourselves by what we show and what we withhold, fiercely guarding our inner insecurities. Shane Claiborne has remarked that we choose our own longings, addictions, emptiness… over community and grace and love. And we are left “ill with want” in the words of the Avett Brothers. We become skilled at escaping, avoiding, posing. And our sin lies in rejecting reality and daring to impose a world of our own making, leading to a deeper retreat into self.
Unfortunately, God hasn’t been exempt from my craziness. Our relationship mirrors my ways with people: some truly great ‘highs’, nervousness that things are about to get messy followed by cordial neglect.
The remedy lies in this primary relationship. I can’t live the one another passages without The One. It’s in the comfort of His love and grace that I’m more willing to allow others across my threshold. Life as the bride of Christ cannot function as a gated community.
In 1981 blind country music artist Terri Gibbs asked, “Somebody’s knockin’. Should I let ‘em in?”
Who is it? Could be a new BFF. Could be a self-serving individual who will abuse your trust and wound you. Could be Jesus. Or in Terri’s case, could be the devil wearing blue jeans. Don’t do it, Terri! It’s Christian gambling, and you have to risk big to win big.
“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” – Revelation 3:20 NLT
- Angie Burns