Relationships, Pain, and Isolation

During a men's breakfast at church, a man visiting the US from Kenya pointed out a difference in social relationships in our country, compared to his homeland. He noticed the distance between people, the separation between lives. In relating this, he was not referring to today's chaotic world. He was talking about fellow Christians, who otherwise have more ideal connections than many in society.

A larger view of the social climate is more complicated still. Contemporary social relationships can be likened to living among clusters of islands. If each island were a person, while there exists limited connection with others, there is an unspoken separation of troubled waters. To chart a social voyage, the navigator must live up to a revolving door of different stipulations for each person. The interpersonal interactions we have are guided along a walk of carefully prepared eggshells. In our consequent isolation, we may well wonder, is there anyone who wants to know the real me? Perhaps the few times we tried to share a deeper part of ourself, the reaction was awkward or received with an uncomfortable silence. Worse still, is rejection. Though living among a crowd, loneliness can be our companion. 

Unconditional relationships are hard to find. We try to fit in, to get along with each circle connected with. We attempt conformity to the dos and don'ts, in their varied criteria and nuances. With failure to meet these, we can find ourselves alone. How many are there where we can be genuine and transparent? The reaction to this climate is to keep ourselves safe. There remains the part held back and shared with no one. A mask is shown to the world, avoiding the risk of exposing vulnerability. While we share the safe part, our pain and deeper experiences are kept protected. Yet, one of the strongest human desires we have is to be understood for who we really are.

While many people we encounter project an air of being together, of being strong, most everyone carries burdens of hurt from others. Each of us live with scars. Some of them are the inevitable results of living in a fallen world, while others are painful experiences that leave us broken.

The greatest relational barrier we have is with God Himself. This is hard for people to understand today, having lost the understanding of God's holiness. Without Christ we are separated from God, beyond repair on our own. There is a vast chasm of sin between us, for He is righteous and we are not. Rather than superficial wishful thinking that will never meet our deepest needs, we must relate to the Almighty according to reality. Until we do, the impact of this enmity effects our entire lives with futility. To be reconciled, we are invited to receive Jesus Christ by faith, who paid for our sins by dying on the cross and rose again. In forgiveness and unmerited grace, we are brought intimately near.

With God, the walls of relational criteria evaporate. Before Him we are bare in our whole being. He knows us entirely. God knows the pain, the bitterness, the sin, and our secrets. Knowing all, He loves us beyond measure. Jesus said, for those who received Him, He no longer calls us servants, but friends. No matter how others relate to us or treat us, the strong abiding love of God holds us fast. As we worship Him, comfort brings joy. Releasing the darkness and loneliness we experience to Him, He heals us in His grace.

Does this take away the realities and difficulties of relating to people? Human beings are imperfect, with everything we do touched by this. Consolation is found in considering our Savior. Jesus came in infinite love to the world, yet was mistreated. He was spat on, mocked, and beaten. Christ was derided even as He hung on the cross for us. The same compassionate Lord, who walks through our struggles with us, gives us His strength. We may wish others would live up to our expectations, but only in God are we completely free and secure on a level that meets our innermost longings. Our value in Christ is that we are dear to Him and loved by God beyond measure. This must be the foremost foundation of our wholeness. In the heartache and wreckage of looking for this security in others, we will remain restless and empty. The more we realize full acceptance with God in Jesus Christ, the more we are at rest in our relationship to others. We can offer ourselves in love without lists of expectations and forgive when people hurt us.

We have a friend who is awesomely beyond a friend in power and protection, yet intimate as no mere person could ever be. He promised He will never forsake us.

But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge. Psalm 73:28.

It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3.

If you are struggling or going through a tough time, can I pray for you? Visit the Share Your Prayer Request page. All info and requests are confidential.

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