One of the least talked about “symptoms” of cancer treatment and for that matter, many other serious afflictions, is a tendency toward isolation. Given the severity of the symptoms of the disease, let alone those of the medical cures, isolation becomes very understandable. Many people just don’t want to be seen by others as they go through the treatments and on most occasions, don’t have the energy or desire to be out with others as they normally might be.
But make no mistake that isolation is just about your worst enemy when fighting a battle such as this. In fact, it’s in the context of interacting with others where the Holy Spirit is present that you feel a certain sense of freedom and possibility. (2 Corinthians 3:17 “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom!”)
Just last evening it took a pretty serious effort for Carol and me to attend our weekly Encounter meeting at The Ark and the Dove near our home here in Allison Park. One of the characteristics of most of the folks that come to this meeting is that of a very positive and deeply held faith and therefore, a spirit of encouragement that flows freely in conversation.
Though I had very little to give to the gathering last evening, in the moments before and after the more structured part of the meeting, there were so many expressions of encouragement, appreciation, agreement in prayer and a declaration of the confidence of Christ’s healing power that I know that I left the meeting much stronger than when I came to it.
Overcoming isolation takes some effort on our part. It means we put aside some of the paths of least resistance and choose to put ourselves out there just a bit in order to spend time with those that we love and feel connected to in the faith and for that matter, even our neighbors and friends.
One of the dominant features of our culture these days is that of the isolation created by things like social media which give people a false sense of community by more or less anonymously expressing their opinions and thereby somehow believing their part of something bigger than themselves. Think about it, does ‘liking’ someone else’s tweet about Brittney Spears or any other news worthy character make you part of a community? I don’t think so.
As we come into this 4th of July weekend my encouragement to all of you is to take whatever steps that are necessary to break out of the grip of isolation and make time even if it’s including some measure of effort or sacrifice, to be with others that can encourage you, lift you up, cheer you on or just appreciate who you are. Keep in mind, that you may have the opportunity to do the same with them. Those are moments where the Spirit of the Lord is present and consequently, there is freedom!
Celebrating freedom together with you this 4th of July,