Not in Vain {how to value your isolation}

 

1

 

There are times when being alone is the sweetest thing in the world. It can mean reading time, an early night, a relaxing bath, a chat on the phone with a friend… or it can mean being productive, getting that one thing done, focussing on a task or challenge.  There are times when we will all embrace our alone time.

There are even times when we can crave it.

But not every instance of being alone is craved or desired. It’s not fruitful or productive.  It’s not even relaxing or enjoyable.

Instead, it’s just one more sign that things are not really as you would like them to be. It’s a different kind of alone. And you didn’t want it or ask for it. In fact, you actually know a lot of people, sometimes you’re surrounded by them. At church or work. Or at school gates or supermarkets. You might even be married, or have children, or even both.

But sometimes no matter how many people we can count with and around us, we are still entirely isolated.

 

Seasons of Fullness

 

Before I was married, I started going to a vibrant and thriving city church. I was in my mid-twenties and part of the appeal it held was the activity of the twenty-something crowd. I lived alone in a city centre flat that I owned myself, and found that by attending this church I had an incredible full life.

There were weekly meetings, Bible studies, church services, Bank Holiday weekend outings, Friday night meets, housegroups, day trips to different places… I was in a season of real fullness. And, despite living alone, I never really ever felt alone.

And it all came after a very difficult spell in my life, and God knew entirely that I needed that fullness.

It was during this time I met my husband, and it was at this church we married and had our first child dedicated. While things changed after marriage and children, I had friends and I had plenty of activities to keep me going.

But shortly after, things took a turn.

 

Seasons of Isolation

 

For reasons I won’t labour on here, my family ended up moving to a remote Scottish island.  For the sake of my husband’s work, we uprooted our lives down in the middle of England and returned to his birthplace.

And while the move was exciting and the challenges were plentiful, we took it all in our stride as we started to lead very different, rural lives in an isolated place, in a very small corner of the world.

It has brought abundant blessings.

And it has brought trials.

It has brought experiences I could never have imagined.

And it brought with it a season of isolation.

One I categorically did not want. Or seek after. Or desire in any way, shape or form.

And I have sometimes hated it.

 

Seasons are that. Seasons.

 

Our days are run by hours and minutes and seconds. As a teacher, my school life is divided into the chimes of a bell telling me that one part of my day has ended and another is about to begin.

Then we have weeks, weekends, months, and these divide into seasons.

And there is much comfort to be drawn from all of these divisions. We know a bad day will end and tomorrow may be brighter. We know the cold of winter will give way to the brightness of spring.

Every unit or part or division of our lives will eventually give way to another. Whether that is a new class coming into a classroom, or a new morning to start again, or a much-needed weekend after a frantic week…and as each hour, day, week comes to an end, so does each season.

So where does the problem arise?

It arises when we wonder why God is not working in the time frames we can understand and quantify. When another bad week, or sad year passes, or when the thing we hoped for, dreamed of, wanted – even prayed with desperation for – doesn’t seem to be coming to pass, we quickly become confused and disillusioned, maybe even angry and bitter.

 

But 2 Peter 3:8 reminds us: But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

 

God does not work within our own regimented understanding of time frames. Peter tells us NOT to overlook this fact…other versions of the Bible tell us to REMEMBER this fact.

 

2

 

 

So, in the meantime?

 

Friend, are you ‘in the meantime’ today? Are you feeling suspended between this and that? Between a dream and a reality – or even a reality and a dream? Between where you are and where you want to be?

Take heart!  You are not alone, and if you are feeling lost, or isolated, or stuck somewhere you would rather not be, then there are things God wants you to know.

 

  • You are where you are for a reason
Proverbs 19:21 tells us: Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
Whether where you are makes sense to you or not, the Lord has a purpose in everything. Do you know why you are where you are? Ask Him to show you. Seek the Lord more than you seek after your own plan. Of course, we ought to make plans…if we are not moving forward, we are not going anywhere, but do not plough ahead with your own plans regardless.  Commit them to the Lord, make your moves as necessary and He will establish your steps (Proverbs 16:9).
Until then, use THIS day.
LIVE in it.

USE it.

In whatever way you can – whether you eat or drink, do it all for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).  Ephesians 5:15 urges us to make best use of the time we have.

  • God knows where you are and where He wants you to be
One of my favourite quotes is from Charles Spurgeon who said that “had any condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there”.
Do you hear that?
Divine love.
God LOVES you.  And He knows what you are feeling.  Our job is to trust that our condition is a divine appointment, not a set of circumstances dropped into our lap by a lazy God.

Seek the Benefits, Learn and Grow

 

Let me ask you some questions before I finish.

How are you using your isolation?

Are you looking in or looking out?

 

  • Seek the Benefits

I spent the best part of an entire year wanting to be somewhere else.  I spent hour after fruitless hour on the Internet searching for jobs I didn’t really want.  I investigated moving overseas, even to places I don’t particularly want to go.

When we become so focussed on changing the present circumstances we have, we miss a whole swathe of blessings.  Yes, blessings and even joy.

Friend, it takes effort to seek the benefits of being somewhere we don’t really want to be.  And sometimes, when we are so intent on changing where we are, we don’t even want to see the benefits.

But who are we to suggest that God does not have all things in His hands?  Who are we to think that the benefits are not worth the tally unless we truly try to see them?

James 1:2-3 tells us: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

Pure joy! But you have to be prepared to look for it, seek after it.

 

  • Learn
Our circumstances are for our good and for our God’s glory.  But we do have to believe that.  We have to truly trust God that out of every difficulty, He will be bringing about a change in us that will be to our benefit.  Maybe it’s trust or patience we need to learn, or how to love people better – there are endless chips that need to be chiselled away in our characters as we become more like Jesus.
So, what can we learn from our isolation? What does God have for us where we are that is for our good and for His glory?
If that’s where you are today, maybe it’s time to ask.  I know I got to the point where I had to realise that there was a purpose I was missing.  Ask Him today, ask Him to help you learn through your isolation.
  • Grow
When we choose to see the joy and the blessings, and we truly seek God’s purpose, you know what is happening?  We are transforming our habits.  Rather than wallow in self-pity or pursue desperately after any other dream (even when we know fine well we don’t even want it!), we begin to praise God for His blessings and we grow closer to Him in our walk.
When our eyes are on the good of our circumstances and the glory of God, how much better off we will be!
Not every day will be a day I value enough.  There will be times when I forget to cherish the moment and realise the blessing.  But I pray that this year these days and times will be fewer and farther between.
Our isolation will not be our undoing unless we let it.  Instead it could be the very thing that brings us closer to God and helps us mature in our faith.
With Grace and Love
Helen x

Comments

  1. What a beautifully written post! I loved your description of time and it’s seasons. I appreciate your honesty and the encouragement you give others here. Thank you for the reminder to forget not His benefits through every season.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I that waiting for the “next thing” is hard! Waiting for God to move you, for a baby to come along, for a new job to come up, for a new stage in your kids life to come – but then if you’re always looking for that next thing, you miss the blessings NOW! You miss the lessons you might need to learn. I totally “get” you with this post! So encouraging! Thank you for sharing your heart!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am so thankful they are just seasons. The trials seems so hard and sometimes the seasons (like now) last way longer than I ever wanted, but I know God knows what He is doing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. and then God is with us in ANY and EVERY kind of season in our lives

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ifeoma Samuel says:

    There are different seasons in our lives. Like you said there is something for us to learn and do in each season we find ourselves.
    Thank you for sharing your heart.
    Blessings to you

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jed Jurchenko says:

    Very well said. Thank you for the reminder that my family and I are in this season for a reason. Seasons come and go. We’re trying to learn to enjoy the joyful seasons to their fullest, and patently press through the difficult ones. Thank you for these words of wisdom.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Although I am no where as isolated as a remote island in scotland, I know the feeling of moving and feeling isolated! IT IS A SEASON! As people will come, lives with interact and soon thread together! Thank you for this!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It is so essential to remember that all seasons come to an end eventually and we are only called to continue to walk with God as we travel them

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Beautifully written and so what I needed to read at this part of my journey! Thank you!
    Cathy

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Yes! There are times and seasons!! Loved reading your story.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I can truthfully say that I have not enjoyed the season that I have been in, but God has taught me so much. I have grown closer to him through this season of sorrow and isolation.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I feel like we have a lot in common after reading this–our lives in our 20s, how we met our husbands, even times of isolation. I hope that you are soon surrounded with close friends!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. What a beautiful reminder! I’m so glad you’re able to find the positive in this season! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: