April 1, 2021

The key barrier to taking responsibility—Self-isolation

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The Elijah Syndrome

When do you feel the most alone?

Think about these two scenarios; a Saturday afternoon after a normal but decent and productive week of work. You take a walk, work in your garden, read an interesting book and have a good meal. Or a Saturday afternoon after a long, hard week filled with conflict and you’re heading into another. You do the same things; a walk, gardening, reading and a good dinner.

When does the loneliness strike?

You are alone for most of the day in both scenarios, but I think we all know loneliness rarely has anything to do with being physically by ourselves. We feel the most alone when we are struggling. At our core, we want others to recognize our struggle and to support us, but the irony is that we often have the most trouble asking for help when we are the most in need of it. Instead of asking, we often self-isolate, tricking ourselves into believing that because the people around us haven’t noticed our struggle, they must not care. It then becomes our problem… ours alone, and we grow more isolated and resentful of those around us. We feel stuck and can slide into self-pity.

I felt this way when my wife and I moved to the Gold Coast. We bought a block of land and built our home. Not long after, the mortgage interest rates soared to 18% and it left us financially unsustainable. I felt responsible for everything as if I was the only one who understood the problem and could fix it. For too long, I didn’t ask for help. I just sank deeper into my isolation.

The prophet Elijah would understand this feeling. After being chased into the wilderness by enemies, he spent a night alone in a cave. He was lonely and dejected and called out to God, “The children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they seek to take my life.” He was, understandably, in despair and self-pity. At this moment, God reassured him in a small, still voice that he was still there.

Two are better than one.

Adrienne and I talked one night after our children had gone to bed. We talked about the financial dilemma and prayed together. “Jesus we need your help”. In only a few days, Adrienne was offered a job at a nearby school, allowing us to live sustainably in our new home.

Reflection Questions:

  • Where do you feel the most alone in your life right now?
  • Where is it not sustainable (including financially and physically)?
  • What would help you consult and get support from others?

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