Is Isolation Starving Your Soul?
Many are starting to feel the stress of isolation.
Our diligence to distance ourselves from others for their benefit (and ours), is beginning to take a toll. There’s a growing sense of boredom.
Honestly, how much Netflix, Hulu, or Prime can you watch a day?
The repetition of Facebook memes and on-going chatter about COVID-19 is causing my finger to ache because I’m scrolling so fast. How much is too much?
I find myself annoyed at the suggestion that this pandemic will be over quickly. While I appreciate the desire to build confidence, are we being a bit premature, setting us up for disappointment? At the same time, I’m praying it will end soon! I’m equally annoyed by those who suggest we’re in this for a long haul.
We do not know how long we will be living in this time of isolation.
Sure, prolonged isolation can affect us in negative ways. But separation can also be useful.
After days of lock-down with children at home, moms and dads are likely asking: “How is it again, that children are a gift of the Lord?”
Being cut off from others physically is revealing. Experts remind us that prolonged isolation affects us physically and emotionally. Physically we can experience aches and pains, headaches, illness, or worsening of existing medical conditions. Emotionally, there is a risk of depression, anxiety, paranoia, or panic attacks.
But isolation can also encourage creativity. Although it’s not the same as having physical proximity with my family and friends, I’m thankful for how technology allows us to stay in touch. Although I miss a friendly handshake or hug, I’m grateful for the many new creative ways we are discovering to shorten the distance between others.
I miss the interaction with the baristas at Starbucks, where I used to go to study. And I look forward to the day when we will resume corporate worship. At the same time, I’m discovering a new appreciation for my in-home office. And forced closures of houses of worship have moved the Church into new and exciting ways of communicating. Although we are temporarily out of the church building, the Church is discovering insightful ways to minister and keep us connected.
Because isolation also poses a danger to our spiritual well-being, we must remind ourselves that spirituality is far more than a religious practice. Patricia Frain defines spirituality this way:
“Our longing to live meaningful and purposeful lives; our sense of relatedness and connection, our desire to live with trust and hope in an uncertain universe, and our desire to experience a sense of belonging to something greater than ourselves – Ultimate Mystery, God, the Divine, Oneness, the Unlimited, Nature, Life.”
These are four essential elements that nourish our spiritual well being.
To live a meaningful and purposeful life requires us to discover and trust that God has a purpose for us.
Paul (the apostle) reminds us that in Christ, we have more than an inheritance. We have a purpose (Ephesians 1:11). What an excellent opportunity we have in this time of “temporary isolation” to discover and reconnect with God’s purpose for our lives.
We are wired for relationships, with others, and God.
Perhaps this season of isolation is an invitation for us to connect or reconnect with our family members in a more creative and significant way. It’s also a time that God invites us to enjoy our relationship with Him.
I admit it’s more comfortable for me to have a relationship with others who know me superficially. But God knows me intimately. And often, that’s uncomfortable for me.
Trust and hope are what sustain us in uncertain times.
Yes, these are uncertain times. Isolation can encourage our trust and inspire hope. And trust and God-centered confidence are essential for each of us when fear dominates faith. The question is: Whom will we trust?
Throughout the Psalms, the writers consistently encourage us to place our trust in the Lord, who is our hope.
“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.”
“… in God I trust; I am not afraid.”
“… when I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”
“And now, O Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in you. ”
I’m choosing to trust and hope in God. After all, this pandemic did not catch God by surprise.
Our spiritual well-being requires more than cognitive knowledge about God.
God’s desire for each of us is that we will experience Him. It’s nice to know about God. But God longs for us to experience His love. James 4:8a reminds us: “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”
Are you willing to trust that God loves and enjoys your company?
Are you experiencing the adverse effects of isolation? Let’s take advantage of our “temporary isolation” to turn fear to faith, find creative ways to inspire hope, and make sure that our voluntary temporary distancing is only with people, not God.
2 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989), Ps 37:5.
3 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989), Ps 56:11.
4 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989), Ps 56:3.
5 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989), Ps 39:7.