I heard a story about a Polish political prisoner who was held in a Russian prison for fifty years. Though this is a horribly long time, it is not what offended me most. Almost all of his time in prison was in solitary confinement. Most of his interactions with another human were when food was shoved under the door.
Twenty-five years into his sentence a psychologist brought him out to evaluate him. His findings were the man was not intelligible and could speak only gibberish that could not be understood by anyone. Then, the man was placed back into solitary confinement for another twenty-five years.
A different psychologist evaluated him after fifty years in solitary confinement. His findings showed this man was very intelligent, but spoke an old dialect of Polish, which had not been heard in over fifty years.
He was released from prison and given a place to live. The neighbors having heard the story came to meet him. One brought a mirror to see himself, because he had not seen his face for fifty years. When he looked in the mirror, he cried, because he did not recognize the man he had become.
Sometimes, we are Put into a lonely place by the decisions of others.
I cannot imagine fifty years without a conversation with another human being. We were created to be in community, to talk with each other. This must be one of the most cruel punishments one human can inflict on another – to remove all community. Maybe your prison is not of brick and mortar; you are locked away and walled up by the backs of others who have turned away from you. This still result in being alone and is the result of the choices of others.
Sometimes, we Walk into the loneliness by our own choice.
It is easy when we have been hurt by others to want to hide-away. We avoid certain stores to avoid an awkward encounter, or drive a different route to avoid the house of one who has hurt us – working hard to give the appearance of not hurting, and not caring.
Avoiding situations to protect ourselves from pain only entombs us in a prison of our own making. Eliminating all that causes pain will eventually result in solitary confinement.
Isolation for the purpose of insulation results in self-imposed incarceration.
Isolation for the purpose of eliminating the pain of society will never fully achieve what we desire. We want peace and the sense of well-being. But frequently this course of action causes us to ruminate the wrong done to us, keeping the prison walls firmly in place.
Sometimes, we are Called away to a lonely place by the Lover of our soul.
At times, Jesus went into isolation up in the mountains all-alone – Away from the crowds of wounded and hurting people. Away from those who wanted to be around so they could find more reasons to insult him or who wanted to be around him for what he could offer them.
He pulled away from the opinion of others to seek the opinion of the One who has a true understanding of who He is and understood His true purpose on earth.
If we remove the things that identifies us in the world like job status, religious affiliation, or neighborhood we live, or people we call friends – if all of it is removed down to the mirror to comb our hair, who would we find?
The purpose for being called away to a lonely place is for spending time listening to God. This is time for God to restore you for the journey, to instruct you in the way to go, and to inspire your creativity for life – a time for Him to describe the person in the mirror. This is the true image of who we are and what our life is about.
We can be put in a lonely place, walk into a lonely place or be called into a lonely place. The first two exterminate life, but the third validates life.
Are you in a lonely place today? How did you get there? How can you invite Christ into this place and allow Him to change your loneliness into singing?
“So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.” 1 Peter 5:10
Linking up today with:
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