One of the facets of being a human being, I believe, is to be alone. Now, sometimes this being of alone, is a choice, but, sometimes, we are alone, because we are forced into exile.
Recently, I have found myself in this place of confusion. I’m confused with who I am, I am confused with where I am going and what I am supposed to do. The terrible thing about growing up in my Christian surroundings, and, even more unfortunately in my few forms of leadership, you are expected to know and be everything. It would seem however, that to doubt ourselves, is to be human, and, to be anything other than human would go against God’s original intentions for our lives. So my confusion, often manifests itself in anger, because, these people are communicating to me that I am not enough, when clearly God loves and accepts me as I am in that moment. This is one type of loneliness. That of isolation through neglect or mistreatment.
Another type of loneliness is conviction. What conviction does, is it asks you to stand above a unit, an entity, a group, or even yourself. Conviction leads you to sitting alone with the weird kid in the lunch room, or, be the kid who raises their hand when no one knows the answer but is afraid to ask. Conviction, leads you to stand against a fallen system and cause you to fight for those who are not accepted or are suffering injustice, even though, true conviction, will surely cause you to not only suffer the same injustice, but, potentially even greater because you are the strong voice. The person who wants to be with Jesus understands this far too well. What this asks you to do, is leave your comfortable 99 friends to search the treacherous and desolate desert to go find the one lost soul who is wandering and crying out for help.
For the few souls who are brave enough to do this, a great form of loneliness and potentially overwhelming one, is solitude. What solitude asks you to do is for you to immerse yourself in yourself, and, experience the distance you feel with yourself, others and God. It is suffering, because, it is the most personal. It causes you to not only re-experience the loneliness of the physical manifestations, but, the consequences of the emotional and spiritual harm that has been done unto you by others and yourself.
The beauty of being alone is that allows you to truly understand community. In our brokenness, our hurt, what it truly allows us to begin to see, is the good news of grace.
Grace appears to us in the form of community within ourselves. Our brokenness, causes us to suffer the consequences of being human, and, instead of participating in sub-human activity, we seek a divine beauty to heal and reconcile our broken self’s.
Grace appears to us in the form of community within others. In our desperation and need for others, or, in our attempts to live in conviction, we experience the exile of social approval. In this moment, we bond immensely with those in which we serve. Broken hearts are fused to bring forth a reconciliation of lonely heart.
Grace appears to us in the form of us reflecting on how much we have been falling short in the Glory of God, but, resurrected Jesus, and, having him reaffirm you by saying “Mike, do you love me? Then feed my sheep.” It is the community with God, that says “I am not ashamed you, you and I are together, let’s do this together.”
Almost as usual, Bonhoeffer gets it right-
“There is not a place to which the Christian can withdraw from the world, whether it be outwardly or in the sphere of the inner life. Any attempt to escape from the world must sooner or later be paid for with a sinful surrender to the world.”