Addicted to Isolation
2 Corinthians 1:3,4 Blessed be the… God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
When my drug addiction came to light, I wanted to hide. Everyone knew the worst thing about me and I knew they were talking. Whether or not this was true did not really matter. It was true to me and I wanted to disappear. Nearly a year later, when the news officially became public and hit the paper, again, I wanted to hide from the light and truth.
It was my pride and shame that pushed me away from others. Just when I needed more help than ever before, I wanted to isolate. At that moment, I was so ashamed, I just wanted the world to forget me. I snuck in and out of church and was anxious about going to the grocery store for fear of being recognized as that doctor-addict.
It is the fear of what others think of us that shames and wounds our pride. It is that fear that causes us to hide our failures. It is in hiding our failures that we avoid the solution. In fear and shame, we avoid honesty and we avoid the light. In doing so, we maintain and perpetuate our defective, destructive behavior. If we can keep our mess a secret, we never have to deal with it.
Paul said, in today’s passage, that we are not to live in self-imposed exile. We are to go to God, with our defects and trials, for comfort and healing. We are to share our life struggles with God and with one another. As God comforts us, we are to comfort each other. We are to live in community so that we do not suffer alone and so that others may share with us the comfort God has given to them.
We help carry each other’s burdens, making them lighter. We share our own struggles and we help others carry their struggles. We share failures and successes and in doing so, we learn from and are comforted by each other. We were made to live, not just around others, but to live with them, in active community. God created us to live in communion with him and with those around us. To isolate then, is to defy God’s plan and to pursue disaster.
I do not have to tell everyone all of my problems. I do however, need to find a small community in which I can be honest. For me, this is a group of just a few guys, meeting for coffee once a week. For others, this will be AA or a small group from church.
When I am honest about my own mess, several things happen. First, in being honest about my ongoing defects, I stop hiding them and I start addressing them. Second, being honest about my mess encourages others that they are not alone. My transparency allows others to share their struggles. Third, and probably most importantly, when I am honest about my ongoing defects, I recognize my continual need for Jesus Christ. I need him as much today as I did three years ago. It is in hiding my mess that I perpetuate it.
If I attempt a façade of perfection, then, when I inevitably come face to face with some failure, I must bury it, living in secret shame. It is only in humbly admitting my persistent need that I continue to find comfort, peace and God.