“You are one of my dearest friends in the world. But you’re also one of the most guarded people I’ve ever met. I know more about some strangers than I do about you.”
I laughed it off because I didn’t know what you say to that.
Thank you for noticing? But I know her, and myself, well enough to know she didn’t mean it as a compliment.
And truth be told. That was at least the second time in as many months that someone had said something like that to me.
And by “someone”, I mean one of my people. Women who know me and love me. Women I count as my cloud of witnesses. Women who love me well enough to say the hard thing. Women who know me better than most….who were calling me out on my lack of vulnerability.
Somehow in the last few years, I fell into a pattern of holding the world at arms length. Even the women I hold most dear. And while some of that is growing up, some of it was also growing dumb on my part.
I have become a master at saying a lot while saying nothing at all. Very specific, vague answers.
I think it is easy to justify it, and to laugh it off when it’s girl friends saying it. It’s harder to shrug it off while sitting in Bible study and Kay Arthur looks through the TV and says to you, “When we isolate ourselves from our cloud of witnesses we make ourselves vulnerable to sin.”
And then I start realizing the way I’ve been living just might be sin. I mean, if the Lord got Kay Arthur involved, it’s gotta be pretty serious business.
At the very least, the way I’ve been living is denial of the best Christ has to offer.
In that moment I re-heard what my friend had said, but it sounded more like this: “I think God wants more for you than how you are living. I think God offers more fullness of live than you’re accepting.”
I think I am better at being fellowship and being community than I am at receiving the body of Christ. I think there is a fine line between living well in community and fellowship, and being loved well by your community and fellowship. We’re called to both. I prefer the former to the later.
I never thought of it as dangerous to live in insolation until Kay Arthur got involved. And while “dangerous” might sound extreme, it is rather extreme to live at arms length from your people.
I never made a conscious decision to drift into isolation, it just sort of happened. I think it happened for the reasons it usually happens – I had gotten hurt. Soul punctures from some people I had trusted. So I threw up some walls and circled the wagons.
And I realized the in my desperate attempt to protect myself from the wounding of others, I was actually hurting myself instead of helping myself.
Isolation keeps us from being covered in prayer. Instead of sharing, we shut down, and we don’t have others lifting us up in prayer. We sacrifice our prayer warriors so we don’t get hurt.
Keeping our people at arms length, keeps out those who love us enough to say the hard thing. The people who love us enough to admonish us, and walk us through repentance and restoration.
Backing away from our cloud of witnesses, backs us into a corner without our cheerleaders who are ready and willing to rejoice as we rejoice and mourn as we mourn. It leaves us navigating life without our support system and encouragers.
It leaves us as the lone iron when we were always intended to live as iron sharpening iron.
So I’m taking baby steps. Back towards community. Back towards the good kind of vulnerability. Back into the abundant life God always wanted for me. Back towards my cloud of witnesses and all that God has to offer in them.