I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.Hebrews 13:5
Have you ever felt abandoned? I have. It’s a powerful emotion mixed with isolation and loneliness, then baked in the oven of time. As a verb it means: To cease to support or look after; desert.
I was almost eleven when we moved from the “comfort” of military life to the unknown. I stayed at home for a full year, mostly by myself. My mother worked full time, my sister started beauty school and my younger brother spent his pre-school days with my mom at her secondhand store.
Because my parents had separated, my father remained in Las Vegas. We moved to Southern Oregon with my mom to start a new life. At least everyone else did. I was literally abandoned. My physical needs were met but my emotional needs were deserted. For an entire year I sat at home reading mature novels, watching General Hospital and collecting fears like precious coins. I was already a fearful child, but isolation fueled the fears like oxygen does fire. Also, my dad never came to visit. Not once.
Of course, I’m sharing this because of the social distancing we are experiencing as a global community right now. We too have distractions where we can immerse ourselves into other’s drama so we don’t feel so alone. However, that only lasts as long as a crocus’s bloom. The reality of being created in the image of God is that we need real relationship. A real relationship with God and with other people is the only way to avoid feeling abandoned. God promised that He will never leave you or forsake you. Even if you are left at home and no one seems to care. God is there. God’s loves. God’s grace is sufficient.
But, in this miraculous age of technology, we are never without the resources to connect–at least as long as we have electricity! At ten I was unaware of my need and welcomed General Hospital’s Luke and Laura into my life as friends. When I was pulled away from them at eleven (my mother finally put me back in school) I grieved the loss of their “relationship.” I missed them desperately. It sounds ridiculous now, but it was so real to me as a child. They were my family.
In the same way, we need connection with our “family,” even if we remain at least six feet apart. We are not meant to be alone in the family of God, floating individually in a protective innertube of isolation. So, now is the time to figuratively link arms. If you weren’t connected before, reach out to someone. Chances are they are feeling lonely too. If you are connected, maintain those relationships through phone calls, FaceTime, and the like. It is good for the soul.
Having said that, please don’t forfeit this time by treading water. Dig into God’s Word. Covet this time to be with God as He shapes us with the waters of solitude. The rough edges will be smoothed if we swim toward Him, I promise.
For example, this time, as I am left at home with my husband, I have become aware of other self-indulgent behaviors–selfishness, impatience and a desire to be the center of my world. Instead of escaping into another’s fantasy I battle the real pull of self-centeredness. Our pastor reminded us on Palm Sunday that we are not the center of our world, God is. God made it that way to save us from ourselves. You see, apart from Him we can do nothing. There is no real comfort, no real love and no real belonging without Him.
I pray that we will all be changed when the tide comes in and we are all back on the same shore. I pray that God’s love will compel us into the arms of those we hesitated to hug before the pandemic. I pray, in this time of social isolation, we will run into the embrace of our Heavenly Father, and reach out to others as we are able, leaving our fears in the wake of His lavish love.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.2 Corinthians 1:3-5