The more hurt I was, the more I wanted to run. The more I replayed the past, the more I wanted to simply stay underneath the covers and not get up in the mornings. It seemed the harder life was, the more I wanted to isolate myself from others. And life got darker….and darker…. and darker.
That’s the danger with isolation. When we’re going through hard times, it is easy for us to isolate. We don’t want others around. We don’t want to cry one more tear over the situation. We don’t want to explain our emotions again and again. But the more we pull away, the darker the situation becomes. God created us for community. He created us, so that others around us can encourage us when we are down. He uses people to speak life into us, when we are too tired, or broken, or emotionally weak, to even read His word.
The problem is, when we are really hurting, it can be much easier to isolate, than to reach out to others and really address the layers of emotions we’re battling. But the easy route isn’t always the best route. In fact, the easy route is usually the temporary fix anyway.
For those of you who may be reading this and saying, “I don’t tell anyone what’s going on, because they won’t understand. Or people will judge me.” Don’t believe that! Those are lies the enemy of your soul would whisper into your ear that would keep you doubting and lonely and isolated. Will there be someone on occasion who will not understand or maybe even judge you? Yes. But we can’t allow that one person to keep us from creating community that enhances our lives. Many of my very best friends were met at church. And it didn’t happen overnight. And it didn’t happen with just one gathering.
I can remember joining a Sunday School class and feeling, very much, like I didn’t fit in. I didn’t talk much and I looked around and feared others were judging me. But I did make the decision to go back again and again. Although it took many weeks and months before I felt comfortable, I started attending socials at some of the members houses. I would call them occasional for prayer. I would reach out. See, that’s the key. I didn’t sit back and wait until someone else reached out to me. They may not reach out, because they think you don’t want to be reached out to. Sometimes, we will take them not reaching out as a sign that they don’t like us or care or want us around. When in reality, they do care, but they simply don’t know what to say or maybe have an insecurity of their own. I’m so thankful, oh so many years ago, that I began to reach out to make friendships within that class. Some of those very people are my best friends now. They came at a time when I desperately needed an ear. And they’ve been with me ever since.
God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy. But he makes the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. Ps. 68:6
I don’t have much in the way of physical family. Many of my family members died when I was very young, and several had died through the years. But God has placed my lonely heart in a spiritual family – the local church. And it changed my life. It kept me from isolating and becoming more depressed. And although it didn’t happen overnight, I slowly found the strength to move on past my past. You can do. Whenever you feel the desire to isolate, fight it! In fact, push harder to get out and do things with other people:
Take your kids to the park or mall, even when you don’t feel like it, and bring a friend along too.
Invite a friend over to dinner, even when you aren’t in the best of moods.
Get out and serve at a local homeless shelter or food bank and invite your Bible study group to come alone.
There are dozens of ways to keep yourself busy and involve others while doing so. Not only will it help keep you from slipping into a dangerous depression, but you may just make some new friends during what could’ve been the darkest days of your life.
Jennifer Maggio is a national author and speaker, mom to three, wife to Jeff, and CEO/Founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is passionate about helping hurting women and single mothers live a life free in Christ. For more information, visit www.jennifermaggio.com.