“Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” – Proverbs 18:1.
Before the happy ending in Frozen, Elsa turns away, then runs away slamming the door on her life behind her. But running away and embracing her “kingdom of isolation” was not the solution. Elsa faced the kind of fear that we need to face so we can break the status quo cycle and move in a new direction.
Have you ever felt isolated? Or left out? What about loneliness? It’s a universal feeling. At one time or another every person on earth could probably answer yes to one of those questions. We can even feel pretty isolated and lonely even when we’re not physically alone. And attending a church does make you immune from feeling isolated on occasion. It is easy to put so much time and effort into programs and activities that we neglect relationships. If you attend church and feel isolated, I have several suggestions/thoughts for you. These are not new or revolutionary. In fact, they are the usual suspects you would expect to hear and have heard from me. But I believe that if you do these things, any trace of the kingdom of isolation will disappear.
The first one may sound like I am deflecting responsibility, but getting connected in the church starts with you. It is much like a new employee who stays all day in his cubicle and then wonders why he is not being included in meetings/discussions. Scripture clearly teaches that relationships are key to a healthy church. In Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer emphasizes this reality: “It is easily forgotten that the fellowship of Christian brethren is a gift of grace, a gift of the Kingdom of God that any day may be taken from us, that the time that still separates us from utter loneliness may be brief indeed. Therefore, let him who until now has had the privilege of living a common Christian life with other Christians praise God’s grace from the bottom of his heart. Let him thank God on his knees and declare: It is grace, nothing but grace, that we are allowed to live in community with Christian brethren.” If you feel isolated ask yourself what you can do to change that by getting out of your cubicle.
Secondly, join a Northstar Group. Northstar groups take place at church and homes all over our areas. I can’t stress enough the value of getting together for fellowship, fun, and sharing on a more intimate level. Building trust and friendships just happen. Northstar Group members have familiar faces to turn to in times of trials. I can’t tell you how many stories I have heard from people who told me that attending a group helped them feel validated at Northstar, transition them through trying times, and provide camaraderie as they share their stories and pray together. It is hard to be isolated when you are doing life with other people.
The last thought is getting involved. Choose one area of outreach whether it be music, teaching, serving, or giving. Identify and use your spiritual gifts in keeping with Romans 12:6-8: “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Serving and isolation are opposites.
If you are feeling isolated, you’re not alone. View it as your responsibility to get connected. Move toward others. Step out, join a group, and reach out to someone. And start serving/using your gifts in the church.
- What is isolation or loneliness? What are some typical factors that contribute to isolation/loneliness?
- Who is the least lonely person you know, and why do you think they are not as lonely as other people?
- What are some reasons we have a hard time acknowledging our loneliness/isolation to ourselves and others?
- Has anyone made a significant impact in your life when you felt isolated or were experiencing loneliness? How so? What might be a practical way to connect with someone who is struggling with isolation/loneliness?
- Spend some time this week alone. Reflect on the lonely times in your life, thanking God for how He has helped you know Him better through them or asking Him to help if you feel lonely and isolated right now.