ISOLATION, SOLITUDE, & SUPERHEROES
The most socially helpful people are those who who value solitude. The most socially destructive people are those who prize isolation. There is a world of difference between the two in much the same way as there is a world of difference between being alone and being lonely. Reading through the Gospel accounts of the life of Jesus of Nazareth and we are unavoidably confronted with Love Incarnate who habitually sort solitude so that He could effectively minister socially. This is contrasted by Judas who isolated himself from Christ and the other apostles and inevitably became socially destructive. As God redeems people He takes them from being weakened by isolation to being strengthened through integration into the community of the faithful and the fellowship with the Holy Spirit in solitude. It's not only the first followers of Christ who hear Him say, "Come away and be alone with Me for a while."
And he said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while." For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. Mark 6:31
DESIGN & DYSFUNCTIONALITY
There is something in the human soul that is designed to be enriched by being connected to others. The One who designed us said of our First Father, "It is not good for man to be alone." (Gen. 2:18). God did not (and does not) want anyone to be lonely due to their isolation. He has created mankind to be connected with others. Of the several things that make a person truly rich, friends and family are among their greatest treasures. When we are disconnected from others through isolation caused by offence, hurt, unforgiveness, breaches of trust, or grievances, we are especially vulnerable to loneliness. The child who grows up with a sense that one of their parents rejected or abandoned them, is very prone to forming dysfunctional relationships. For example, the daughter who feels betrayed by her father because he left his family to pursue a relationship with another woman and to start a new family is highly likely to crave male attention - but often in a controlling way (because although she craves the attention of a man, she doesn't want to be hurt again by a man). Despite seeking, and usually getting male attention, such a girl can feel cheated, deprived, and hard done by. This attitude is extremely socially isolating. People, especially those close to them, are made to feel guilty for not doing enough for them or giving them enough attention. This inevitably leads to a critical, judgmental, negative outlook that makes it even more difficult for them to connect with others or maintain existing relationships.
A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city,
and quarreling is like the bars of a castle.
SUPERMAN v JESUS
Alone doesn't have to mean lonely. But when you're hurt and unforgiving it rarely means anything else. Alone can mean restoring solitude. My favorite superhero is Superman. There's a host of uncanny parallels between Clarke Kent and Jesus of Nazareth. Here's one that often gets overlooked. Q. Where did Superman go to be renewed - where he could affirm his own identity - and commune with his very distant father? A. The Fortress of Solitude. Where did Jesus go to be renewed?
¶ Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns.Matthew 14:13
¶ Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.John 6:15
Jesus would often withdraw from the crowds (and even His disciples) to be Himself, to be transparent in His own identity.
And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!" And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.
Jesus would often spend time alone to be with His Father.
¶ In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.
Some people are left to endure aloneness due to the unwelcome circumstances of life. In a very real sense though, the child of God is never alone. Jesus teaches us to see aloneness not necessarily as leading to loneliness, but as a door to solitude - where we might be renewed, reminded, and restored. From my observation, people enduring loneliness don't immediately discover the door of solitude. There is often an uncomfortable transitional journey from longing for what isn't to accepting what is - and then realising the contentment that follows. The content person is a socially attractive person, a safe person. The discontent person is a socially difficult person. The content person has found simple joy in being interested in others and great joy in resting in God. The discontented person doesn't even realise their condition inhibits them from such simple delights of cordial social interaction. The discontented has learned how to justify their lack of attentiveness for others by appealing to their own past relationship injuries and garnering sympathy.
¶ Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;
he breaks out against all sound judgment.
In the meantime they are susceptible to isolating themselves from the source that God has ordained to heal, strengthen and bless us: our brothers and sisters in Christ.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Isolation from this source of wholeness, strength and blessing is caused by pride. Not until the discontented discover that they are never truly alone can they begin to be healed. And with the dawn of this revelation they will also discover that they actually are loved beyond imaginable limits by the One Whom they are often alone with.
A person who has friends may be harmed by them,
but there is a Friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Proverbs 18:24 NET