“That’s where they getcha.”
My daughter used the phrase while trying to use a coupon at a store then realizing she needed to buy multiples of an item before the discount became valid.
My husband said it last week when he realized the satellite TV package he purchased didn’t include his favorite sports channels.
The expression came to mind this morning as I considered isolation.
When I have a terrible day (or week, or even longer), I’m tempted to stay home and talk to as few people as possible. I think of some of my Christian friends who seem disposed to criticizing others with words and attitudes. Those, especially, can be the personalities I wish to avoid.
God created us for community, but the enemy often schemes to isolate us from others. He convinces us no one will understand our struggles, or that they will mock or judge us, or misinterpret our motives. Believe me, I’ve fallen for his lies far too often to count.
And that’s where he gets us.
Encouragement to overcome isolation
The Bible is plump with encouragement to connect with others, to operate as the body of Christ where each member has a specific, valuable role and function, and to keep meeting together. Consider these passages, for example:
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV).
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, ESV).
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2, ESV).
Connection can help us embrace today’s joy
Based on the verses listed above, we see several blessings of connecting with others. When we “do life” with other people, both inside and outside the wall of our church building, great things begin to happen:
Not only do we receive encouragement, but we’re given the opportunity to encourage others, and that feels even better.
We gain support from others who will help us up when we struggle with temptation or fear or confusion or loneliness or anxiety, or shame. We realize we’re not alone. God’s people walk alongside us, helping us along the way. They can offer wisdom from their own experiences or sound advice that’s not clouded by an emotional connection to the problem.
We fulfill the law of Christ. We begin to live life as He intends—connected with others—and can reap the countless blessings of obedience.
Yes, the gifts and benefits to connection are many, yet even as Christians, we’re prone to withdrawal. We fall victim to the enemy’s whispers that say, “It would be so much easier to stay home today.”
I’ve been there. Many, many times.
Even when I battle the temptation to isolate, push myself out the door and attend a gathering, I sometimes predetermine our own actions. I think, “I’ll go, but I’m not going to talk to anyone.”
Or worse yet, my intentional efforts to connect come to an abrupt halt when we enter the room to find …
- A chatty sister talks too much and I can’t get a word in edgewise.
- My friend’s problem seems so much weightier than my own so I fall silent.
- Emotions threaten to overtake me and I know if I start talking the tears will come. Who needs that?
- The well-dressed woman across the room starts talking about her perfect family again. As I compare myself to her, I feel she may judge me or my issues. I should just pull myself together too.
I miss the opportunity to share my struggles. Trapped in isolation, I often misjudge the depth of my loneliness and the way it shrouds my joy. I believe I’m being independent but the ache in my heart is heavy.
I’m deceived into thinking I can navigate this life on my own, that I don’t need the fellowship of others.
But that’s a lie. The truth is Jesus prayed that you and I could experience unity with other believers just as He and the Father were unified. Then, the world could see Jesus and the love of the Father. (See John 17:23).
It’s worth the effort to overcome isolation. It not only blesses us individually but also is mutually beneficial for those with whom we engage in Christian fellowship. Without question, connection within the Body of Christ can help us embrace the joy the Lord has for us today.
4 Practical Hints to Overcome Isolation
Here are a few practical (but not always easy) ways to overcome Isolation and embrace today’s joy.
Get online as soon as possible and check out your church calendar. Find an event or two that sounds interesting. Register if you must. Just make plans to attend and then go! Remember that friendships and connections don’t happen instantaneously. They take time, so exercise patience. When new relationships begin to bud and bloom, you’ll soon understand the benefits of connecting, repeatedly and regularly, with other followers of Christ.
I can’t estimate the amount of time I’ve wasted waiting for someone to reach out to me. My heartfelt recommendation: don’t wait for others to initiate a conversation. Start one on your own. Ask questions about the other person. Show genuine interest in who she is. As you wait for a friendship to take root, maintain the attitude that “it’s not about me.” Take initiative and pour yourself into others first.
I find one of the fastest ways to make friends, connect with others and overcome isolation is to serve. Volunteer for a cause, work a booth at an event or sign up to help with a project. There’s something about being a part of a team, rolling up your sleeves alongside one another, and getting to work that quickens familiarity and bonding.
Move beyond your comfort zone
Do that thing you’re afraid to do. Sign up for the women’s retreat even if none of your friends are attending. Share your testimony with your small group. Learn to exercise vulnerability and let others into your life. If you’re afraid that someone will judge you or that if you let people get too close, you’re bound to experience hurt… well, you’re right. At some point, all of us feel the sting of relationships. But let’s not let the fear of heartache keep us from the joy of connectedness. The benefits far outweigh the risks.
Our enemy wants us in isolation because then he can wreak havoc into our lives. God wants us living in connection and unity so that we can bond with other believers, bless one another, and glorify Him. When we work to overcome isolation, it is a sure way to deepen your level of daily joy.
May God’s Word strengthen you today!