If we are constantly trying to be someone else – or trying to project an image that is less than honest – no one will ever truly know us. If no one truly knows us then we are living in isolation. You may be surrounded by people all day long yet still be emotionally and relationally isolated. Moms can be surrounded by kids and even other moms and still be relationally isolated. Men and women can work amidst a sea of people for 40-60 hours per week and remain relationally isolated. It can easily happen to any of us. How do you know if you have crept into relational isolation?
- Is someone asking about your well-being?
- Is there someone who can see through your staple responses? (friend, “how are things going?” – you, “everything is going well” – friend, “liar.”)
- Is someone asking about your marriage?
- Does someone know your unique struggles and ask regularly about them?
- Is someone available and welcoming of your phone call anytime of the day or night?
Isolation creates a petri dish where all sorts of problems take shape. To the surprise of many, pastoral leadership can create a very isolated environment. I have to be incredibly intentional to foster these kinds of relationships. So, I would be the first to say that it is much easier said than done. However, the struggle pays unspeakable blessings.
If you cannot answer a resounding “YES” to those five questions then I challenge you to seek deeper relationships – at least one. Fight the suburban isolationism that can easily breed all types of unhealthy thoughts and emotions.