I want to hang here with this theme of fear for a minute. Really, I want to remain here because talking about it makes me uncomfortable. I feel like I’m already talking about isolation in my avoidance. I’ve been putting off being vulnerable about this topic for a few weeks now–apparently this is the part of the article where I tell you I’m nervous with the hope that it’ll make me less nervous.
The danger of fear
The danger of fear is it leads me inward. It leads me inward in a way that is crushing, a way where implosion is merely a foregone conclusion. The only unknown is how long it’ll take.
That caving in is the defense mechanism, but that defense mechanism is really isolation masquerading as an ally. It is the devil, if you will, doing what he does best; he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Make no mistake, it is no friend of yours. There is a time and a place for alone time, but this isolation is alone time’s beastly cousin.
This isolation is the kind of response that takes the need I feel we all have for quiet contemplation and solitude and distorts it into a prison within ourselves. We become trapped in a pattern of retreat; in essence, we become trapped within ourselves. The loneliness becomes comfortable, thus we are increasingly unwilling to emerge from within our fleshy shell into the seemingly dangerous world that surrounds.
Isolation speaks some truth
There is a truth to this reticence, as the world is certainly dangerous. Jesus made no bones about this fact (John 16:33). Yet, that is how the world must be. For now. This gets at the heart of the idea of the now and not yet in which we live. There is beauty, joy, and love to be found in this world, but there is also real darkness and pain. Inherently, this life is a bit of a gamble. We must accept the risk. The only other option is, well, isolation. That other option is a kind of death, a kind of lonely, solitary wasting away one day at a time.
That truth makes isolation all the more enticing. Whispers that we will get hurt if we reemerge are actually true; as certain as death and taxes, we will be hurt again in our lives. We will fail, we will lose our happiness to the next calamity that strikes. It’s all pretty true, but these truths are shallow.
What we miss in isolation
The sinister voices knowingly don’t tell you about are what you are apt to miss out on in your self-selected seclusion. What the devil conveniently glosses over are the moments–oh, are there many — that make the gamble worth it every time, I will state that with certainty. So easily we forget the highs that outshine the darkness by orders of ten. When Jesus told us, what he told his disciples, about the tribulations that were an inevitable part of life, was that they could take heart in him as he had already overcome the world (John 16:33). Even before he would face a single stroke of the whip, let alone a nail through the wrist or foot, or even death by crucifixion itself, Jesus boldly stated that he had overcome.
Simply, he is either crazy, or he is the son of God. I don’t have the time in this post to get into it, but think about that. He is either our ultimate peace, our shalom, or he is chief among the fools of history.
It is on this belief that Jesus is the son of God that I have found the courage to emerge from the prison of me. Jesus provides the certainty even today that I have been granted the ability to even want to face this fear as I type. Imperfect as my faith is, my faith is enough (not that it is about me or my level of faith) for him to stick with me through the fears I have encountered in my life. And he will stick with you as well. This I do know.
Originally published at faiththroughdoubt.com on July 7, 2017.