The person who tries to live alone will not succeed as a human being. His heart withers if it does not answer another heart. His mind shrinks away if he hears only the echoes of his own thoughts and finds no other inspiration.
– Pearl S. Buck
Isolation or seclusion is a life killer. It is a dangerous thing. It saps the heart out of the nutrients that can only be found in meaningful relationships. As I look back, I have realized how a failure I was when it comes to maintaining relationships. At times I have the tendency to be cold or indifferent. Sometimes I was an overly evaluative melancholy or at times a perfectionist who has a ton load of unrealistic expectations to people. I wished they were perfect “just like me” (oh pardon the proud irony here). That way I thought I would have no problems with living with the rest of the world. And so the seclusion. But now I came to know that that kind of thinking was just utterly immature and selfish as I am.
I write blog not to impress but to express myself. This is my way of showing to the world that I am just as human as my fellow and I wanna be transparent. I feel that I am at my lowest point in my life right now. Friends and loved ones were wounded and hurt; family life was neglected; spiritual life in drought season; finances left unmanaged; work unappreciated; opportunities fled; flawed character and crushed spirit. Here lies the real danger of isolation – the disconnection in life. I made my own sad prison cell.
It all started with the wrong mindset that I can do things alone (as I was used to it) or that I am strong, all the while deeply hungering for love, appreciation and encouragement of others. I needed their validation, the kind that I demanded since childhood. Ironically enough, it sufficiently given by my loving family, or my peers from school, or the romantic experiences, or my subordinates in college. But it was really NOT the kind of validation that I wanted to have. As you can see, it was all focused to the self. It was pure pride and selfishness, like a roaring monster from within my soul that shouts, “Feed me! Feed me!” I don’t want anymore of that. I am learning the kind of validation that springs out from total acceptance of myself, of who I truly am – including my flaws whether I could or couldn’t do something about it and my natural giftings. I was longing for the kind of contentment of not anymore wearing a rusting image in front of others trying to look from their perspective. The only reason a man wears a mask is because he has many insecurities. And I wasn’t an exception.
I want to pursue a life of purpose, a life of meaning and a life of serving. I would love to live the Reader’s Digest’s slogan: “life well shared.” It’s funny how God needed to crush me in order to build me up from broken pieces and show me that I was wrong. It’s like Him rebuking me with sharp but loving words, “Who do you think you are, Bien?” These are the times where I would ask myself, “What has happened to me?” now that I see my own folly. The Scripture was very clear on this matter: “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12). I guess this should be my life verse from now on. Jon Foreman of Switchfoot sang in the song Baptize My Mind, “For these seeds to give birth to life, first it must die.” As for the lesson, I remember the words of John Maxwell in his book Relationships 101:
If your attitude is to be served rather than to serve, you may be headed for trouble. It is true that those who would be great must be like the least and the servant of all.
The nature of isolation or seclusion is subtly rooted in pride. It’s one way of saying, “I don’t care about you, so leave me alone! There’s no one to love me anyway, but please do care about me. Or I may resent you!” YOU FOOL! Wake up! You expect people to care about you yet you care less? You expect them to provide your egoistical demands so that you’d feel you are well loved, yet you are in your safe zone of isolation, lazy of loving others? Selfish child! By the way, if you’re reading this, please don’t get offended, I’m not talking about you, I’m talking to myself. The words of God regarding the Golden Rule hit me real hard.
So in everything, do unto others what you would have them do to you…
I believe that there is a constant happiness and joy for the man who is secured with himself about who he truly is, not demanding validation but offering invitation to bless others. I believe it will be the kind of contentment that says, “God, I am not perfect. As we both clearly see, I have lots of imperfections and I humbly accept that. I am not perfect, but You are. Together we could do everything!” It is not a prayer celebrating the common mistakes of Christians when praying, as theirs go something like, “I am weak, I am weak, I am weak. Oh Lord, do I still have hope? I can’t do anything right.” Theirs is focused on hopelessness. Instead, the former is something of boldness and courage. It is filled with the right confidence that the act of improvement is realized only through self-acceptance and empowerment from God. “Only God can turn a MESS into a MESSage, a TEST into a TESTimony, a TRIal into a TRIumph, a VICTim into a VICTory.“
Proactive love is the answer. It is always reaching out. Unless a man is a servant of all, he will not know love. He will remain in his self-made prison and will always feel neglected or isolated. Such is a lonely, angry man. He holds the key out of the bars but he chooses to wait for others to save him. Isolation is his choice and so is his loneliness. Love is the movement of freedom. So he must use the key.