I have this fancy purple jacket hanging up in my closet and I can’t seem to get rid of it. It’s nicely detailed with embroidered patterns throughout the entire jacket. It’s a beautiful shade of deep purple, almost an eggplant color. One of the reasons I bought it is because it is long and hits me about the middle of my thigh, so it covers up all my junk. And a girl needs her junk covered up. Anyway, I think I bought it maybe 10 years ago, when I was a skinnier version of myself. I can’t tell you the last time I wore that jacket. So it just hangs there, all alone, neglected, overlooked as I pass it by to get to my sweatshirt section because I need something better suited to hide my muffin top. I’m sure it’s got an inch of dust covering it.
I’ve realized that I’m just like that purple jacket. Isolated, alone, outdated, neglected, forgotten about….or so it seems some days. And just plain weird. That jacket is weird, which is why I picked it. I’m sure I subconsciously felt connected to it because of my own weirdness. But someone I allowed the enemy to convince me that I was too weird to connect with other human beings. So I decided to stick myself into a corner and not let anyone come near me. I suppose the pain and rejection I endured through the years of walking this destiny out have made me a little gun shy. I’m not so quick to pull the trigger on a relationship with someone. No thanks, I’ll just keep my purple self over here in the corner where it’s safe and I don’t need you. All I gotta do is just hang out here and wait on God to pull me out when He’s ready.
But that’s a lie. More than likely God will use a person to reach out to me when the time is right for that next chapter in my life so isolating myself is never the right move. I know it feels safe to hide but I won’t be able to fulfill my destiny by being invisible.
Have you ever had that nagging feeling that you are just no good at relationships? Like you always find a way to destroy them so you just don’t even try anymore. I always just assumed my awkwardness scared people away. I seem to possess this knack for making people super uncomfortable. Let’s just say I didn’t score an “A” on the gift of hospitality when I took the little spiritual gifts quiz. But the truth is I felt afraid of being hurt again so I shut myself in. It’s not that I’m bad at relationships; it’s actually that I’m really good at protecting myself. I learned how to put thick walls around me so no one could get in and break my heart again.
Can you relate? Have you been so damaged and wounded by past relationships or church hurt (the worst kind) that you don’t go to church anymore OR make friends? I completely understand! But there is a reason God doesn’t want us alone. Alone we self destruct. Alone we fall into depression. Alone we are easy targets for the enemy. He doesn’t take out the sheep that are safely nestled in the fold; no he takes out the ones that are separated and alone.
So many times the enemy of our soul plots and plans ways to take us out VIA relationship struggles. This has been on my heart heavily lately. I know people who used to be wholly devoted Christians that seemed on fire for God. But now, because of so much relational pain and wounding from others (from misunderstanding, wrong perceptions, etc) they no longer are in healthy relationships or churches. They equate friendship with pain and churches with wounding. This is tragic.
They are just like my purple coat; isolated, alone and covered in dusty ashes from the explosion of relational living. I get it. I lived in that place for a while and I hated it. Something inside me knew that living alone and miserable was not God’s best for me. So I decided to stop living that way. I started to reach out to those that I felt I could trust and be myself with (yes it can be tricky to figure out who we can trust). We intentionally connect, whether by meeting up for coffee or having dinner together with our spouses. The point is I put forth the effort because I know how much stronger and healthier I am when I connect with other healthy people.
The important thing is that we find other HEALTHY people to connect with for these kinds of friendships. We can’t think of this the same way we think of doing ministry. Sometimes in ministry we help people that are not healthy. That’s fine, we should do that. But we should not get into a demanding friendship with someone who is not healthy; that’s where the explosions happen. That’s where the painful endings occur that are never resolved. In a healthy relationship with someone who is spiritually mature, we can disagree and possibly even find ourselves offended, BUT we can talk it out because we are both whole people who love Jesus and are willing to humble ourselves. Does that make sense?
There is much more to say about this topic, much more than a short blog can cover but I hope I can at least plant a seed in the isolated hearts reading this. Please consider relational living again. Please stop hiding. And please do it soon. It will be worth it I promise.