The other day, I was reading, once again, through the book of Proverbs, and saw a verse that I hadn’t focused on before. It’s truly amazing to me that there’s always more to be gleaned by the Bible, even if you’ve already those verses 100 times before. And that verse that I read immediately cut me to my core.
“Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;
he breaks out against all sound judgment.” – Proverbs 18:1 (ESV)
Isolationism Can Have Deep Roots
Of course, I read this verse on my fourth day of being alone, with minimal human contact but overwhelming productivity. But, as I sat in the middle of my living room floor, I was completely convicted. I hadn’t realized it, but my isolationism can be rooted in my desire for control. Sometimes I will isolate myself because I want things my own way.
The truth, as much as I hate to admit it at times, is that God did not create us to be alone. He created us for relationships with him and with others. When we isolate ourselves from community, it can lead us down a slippery slope.
This doesn’t mean that we should spend all of our time with people and never have a moment alone—that would be an introvert’s worst nightmare. But there should be a balance between the two.
There are times when I go past my introverted desire to recharge and go into a full-on retreat. These moments aren’t healthy and are a perfect time for me to check my motives. Sometimes I isolate out of fear of failure or fear of being seen as less than perfect. Other times I isolate because the amount of stress I’m carrying around with me is almost crippling, which often will lead to extreme laziness (of course, misidentified as “self-care”). And it’s my responsibility to explore those deep roots with the Lord and allow him to heal those places of brokenness.
Isolationism is Just Not Wise
It’s so tempting, especially if we get our energy from being alone, to spend a lot of time in isolation. But when we do that, we open ourselves up to the possibility of all kinds of problems. Time alone, while healthy in moderation, can also lead to a feedback loop in our minds when we don’t seek the wisdom, comfort, or encouragement of others. Proverbs is chock full of verses that remind the reader of the value found in listening to the wisdom of others and each of those rings true in my life.
When I’ve cut myself off from God, myself, and godly community, I tend to make foolish decisions. I don’t go seeking them out, they’re just a natural result of the conditions that I’ve surrounded myself with. Some of these are small like eating out every night of the week, and some of them are big like taking on a new client or project when I don’t have the time or energy to do any extra work. But, when I stay closely connected to God, myself, and wise individuals, I am less likely to make foolish decisions.
And I am immensely grateful for those who hold me accountable, even when I try to retreat into my isolationism.
Isolationism Can Look Different For Everyone
If you’re an extrovert, I’m proud of you for making it this far, because my version of isolationism probably looks very different from yours, but that doesn’t mean that you’re immune to this. Isolationism doesn’t have to mean barricading yourself in your house or room for days on end, not speaking to another soul. In fact, you can be isolated in a room full of people.
It’s so easy to cut ourselves off from people emotionally, especially if you’ve been hurt before. Given the right set of circumstances, we can easily isolate behind a facade or a title or a relationship status. We can isolate under the guise of a busy schedule, missed texts, or exhaustion.
Whatever isolation looks like for you, I want to encourage you to reach out to a trusted human today—shoot them a text, call them, FaceTime them, meet them for coffee—and step outside your comfort zone. That can be the most uncomfortable thing to do, but is absolutely worth it. I’m consistently having to push myself out of my comfortable little isolationism bubble and, though I usually protest at first, I’m always grateful in the end.
Do you have a tendency to isolate? How so?
How do you work to maintain a healthy balance in your life?