I was in no mood to help anyone.
Chris and I had been separated for less than a week, and I was in a pretty good funk. I had every reason to be sad and depressed, but my friend who knew better than to let me isolate, called and asked me to come support hurting kids.
Some kids were dead, a school was hurting, and I knew the students who were mourning. Could I come and talk to kids if they needed someone?
I’m glad I went. I didn’t do anything amazing, just showed up where kids were hurting and made myself available if they needed me. Some kids smiled at me from across the room, content to know I was there and I loved them. Others came up to say hi and just chat about the school year. Sometimes you don’t have to talk about the pain to take care of the pain.
When things are bad, when things feel too heavy and painful, it’s easy to disconnect from people. The excuses, the energy, the embarrassment–whatever the emotion, we can find justification to stay away.
But what I’ve learned through experience (experience I’ve fought against tooth and nail) is when my tendency is to isolate, I should be doing the exact opposite. When everything in my nature says
I need a break
I’m too tired
I have nothing left to give
It’s more of a tool of the devil to isolate me instead of a restful escape from the world for a minute.
As an introvert, I can claim the need for a break often. But isolation can also be a great way to mask struggles or depression.
Hebrews 10:24 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” In the Greek, “consider” means to thoroughly consider something; to think through from the top to the bottom; to think hard about something; or to deeply ponder a matter. When we consider someone in that manner, we are so concerned with another’s welfare we are moved to action.
When I’m working hard to stay away and throw myself a pity party, I have friends who consider me in prayer, in conversation, in text messages, and refuse to allow me to become easy prey for the devil’s lies and tricks. (The devil loves a disconnected, isolated Jesus follower.)
I only know about these mythical encouraging people, because I’ve been the recipient of their goodness. God has used people from all parts of my life to shake me out of my stupor and refocus my attention on someone other than myself.
Here’s what I’m working on right now: I want to be that for others; I want to know when God puts someone on my heart or brings them up during my quiet time, it’s not just my mind wandering. I want to realize God is prompting me, and I need to act on it.
There was a week last fall where I was pretty low. A family member’s cancer diagnosis and a rough end to an unhealthy friendship had knocked me down pretty hard. I was sad, and I couldn’t see my way out of it right away.
In the midst of this hard week, I learned of a suicide at our church, a high school kid who had taken his own life. Suddenly my sadness didn’t feel so important as I showed up to a night of worship and support for hurting kids.
My friend didn’t know I was struggling through that week–she didn’t know what was happening in my life or in my heart–but she felt prompted to ask me to come support kids, and even though I felt like I couldn’t support myself, I went because I knew I should.
I might have cried more that night than the kids who lost their friend. But I knew staying home and focusing on myself was the opposite of what I was supposed to do. A friend had considered me, I knew it wasn’t by happenstance, and I obediently showed up.
When we take time to consider others, we often gain perspective on our own hurting. It is easy to pay lots of attention to my pain because I have a front row seat to the sadness. But when we consider others in light of whatever we’re stuck in, our attention gets turned outward which is always better for us and those around us.
In isolation, my problems are worse than everyone else’s.
In isolation, I cannot see past myself to the pain of others.
But when we consider others, when we look for ways to think hard or deeply ponder someone beside ourselves, we are often moved to action. We become less self-focused and more others-focused.
It’s an odd thing to say when we consider others, we reap benefits too, but it’s true. It’s like God is saying, Carry others and I’ll carry you.
Then we all become a little lighter.