I sometimes struggle with feelings of isolation.
Often there is a simple cause: physical distance from friends, not seeing many people because of sickness or busyness. But once the feeling takes hold of me, I sometimes generalize it and start to see my whole life through that lens.
When I view my interactions with people through that lens, a barrier rises up. An invisible barrier that makes me feel like I can’t reach out to people and connect with them. I talk to them, smile, look at them, even touch them, but somehow none of it breaks through. They can’t see what is going on inside me.
Then I give up and feel like even trying is too much effort.
I was feeling that way a little bit last week. Because of jet lag, I stayed in most of the week, and it wasn’t until I finally saw a bunch of people over the weekend that I realized how isolated I felt.
I thought the solution was people.
I thought I needed more attention from my friends or someone else, but during worship on Sunday when I felt the love of God crash down on me anew, that need fell away. Because the truth is, there had people around me, beside me, talking to me, supporting me, and caring about me the whole time, it just hadn’t been enough. I had only been taking in the moments when people looked away or didn’t answer my emails or didn’t greet me as enthusiastically as I wanted.
When I try to find my source of joy and peace and meaning in people, I never feel satisfied. I always feel lacking, no matter how good the people I look to are.
The crazy thing is that when I’m satisfied in God, it actually brings me closer to other people.
I am no longer as desperate to be close to people, but I am better able to have meaningful interactions with them. I am better able to receive their love and give love in return. And I am even able to give love freely, not expecting anything back.
He teaches me how to love. I know how to love because of how He loves me.
It’s a process, but I am learning.
When I feel like I’m lacking, all I can think about is me. But when I encounter His love, I am freed to think about others. And that is a much more beautiful, meaningful way to live.