Deserted. Alone. Isolated. Abandoned. None of these words evoke a sense of safety and security. In fact, to me, they scream the opposite. They remind me of a desert wasteland…dry, barren, unforgiving, a place where sustenance does not come easily.
I’m sure King David could relate to this imagery. How many times do we read about him pouring his heart out in song, saying these exact things? “My soul thirsts for you, in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1) “My strength has dried up like sunbaked clay…My enemies surround me.” (Psalm 22:15) “Don’t leave me alone, Lord! Please, my God, don’t be far from me!” (Psalm 38:21)
While this might not seem like something we would want for our lives, how many times do WE feel this way? As women, how many times do we put ourselves in this situation? When things get hard, when friendships fall apart, when we are hurt, stressed, overwhelmed, offended, insert your own fill-in-the-blank…it’s easier sometimes to isolate ourselves from others. To put ourselves on our own little island to lick our wounds. To push away well-meaning friends who might not understand, and then we get offended that “no one was there for me.” A self-fulfilled prophecy, if you will. In an effort to guard our hearts from others, we usually end up scarring it ourselves.
I’m sure we can all relate to this! Who loves putting themselves out there? Or being vulnerable with others and not having it be reciprocated back? It’s intimidating to lower your defenses, trust others, and open up.
It’s unnerving to share your heart and let people into the deepest, darkest parts of who you are. For some, it’s downright scary! What if they don’t understand? What if they don’t think what I’m going through is a big deal? What if they judge me because of my issues? What if I trust them and they turn around and share my secrets with others?
I’ll be honest. There are weeks I just want to retreat from everyone. And there are days that I definitely do!! I’m an introvert by nature, so it takes a lot of effort for me to reach out to others when I need a little encouragement. My typical Friday night is spent cozied up on the couch in my sweatpants with a cup of hot tea and a good book to read.
I have to be intentional with my friendships, in reaching out to say hi, in being honest with close friends when I’m going through hard times. I don’t like to talk about issues and dwell on them. But I know I also need to share life with the people God has put in my path. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
Recently, my family experienced some tremendous heartaches. We received hit after hit after hit. Do you want to know what got us through that season? 1. Knowing that God was in control. And 2, being surrounded by the love of some pretty amazing friends. Friends who were there for us selflessly, sacrificially even. They didn’t know the details of most of those heartaches, and they didn’t ask. They just loved us through it, expecting nothing in return.
If I’ve learned anything it’s that we aren’t meant to do life alone. The very first church, the group of people we should be modeling, lived together and dined together and shared everything with one another. Point blank, they just did life together (Acts 2). They didn’t do life alone; they recognized that we weren’t supposed to.
Maybe it’s the size of some churches or maybe it’s cultural changes, but for some reason there has been a shift in The Church regarding this mindset. Instead of living life together, being raw and vulnerable, we only see our church family once or twice a week for a few hours.
But God puts certain people in your life for a very specific purpose, for more than just a quick conversation in passing after church. Sometimes it is for a season, sometimes it is for forever. Sometimes it is so you can pour into that person, sometimes it is so they can encourage you, and sometimes it is to benefit both of you.
A friendship in which both friends can uphold each other, encourage one another, and draw the other closer to Christ, as “iron sharpens iron,” is the best friendship to have. But it takes time, effort, and intentionality! You have to work for it, and when you finally have it, you have to KEEP working for it.
Sometimes opening up is scary. Sometimes being vulnerable is risky. Sometimes your friends will let you down. And I would be lying if I said you will never get hurt by anyone ever again.
BUT, when we isolate ourselves from others, that’s exactly where the Enemy wants us. It is so much easier for him to discourage us and plant seeds of doubt and bitterness in our hearts when we distance ourselves from other believers, the ones who are supposed to be there for us, to encourage us and lift us up in word and prayer.
If you are going through something right now, and feeling alone or discouraged, look around at the people God has already surrounded you with. Maybe there is someone you know who has gone through some of the same things you are going through. Maybe there is a trusted friend who you know can be a listening ear, give words of wisdom, or pray with you.
OR, if you feel like you aren’t going through any major issues right now, who has God put in your path that you can speak life and encouragement into? Is there someone who seems to be pushing others away? Maybe they are hurting and need you to intercede for them. Is there someone who the Lord might be placing on your heart? Send them a quick text to let them know you are praying for them.
Reach out in love, expecting nothing in return, and love them like Jesus does! You never know how dark their day might be, and how bright your words of truth and light will lift them up!
The bottom line is that God puts us into a community of believers for a reason. Who has God put in your life that can speak truth into your heart? Who can be a friend that you can reach out to for prayer, accountability, and encouragement?