Do you find yourself pulling away from others, especially if you’ve experienced a crisis or deep disappointment? We need other people, and we’ll never thrive as human beings in isolation.
I have a tendency to isolate myself. I am a complete and total introvert so, though I like being around people, it wears me out. It’s hard for me sometimes to find a balance between finding the downtime I need to recharge, and retreating into myself. I have had a lot of people interaction this week. It has been fun, but I am exhausted today. I am looking forward to some time alone to recharge. But I realize my need for that people interaction. I know how I can get when I have been alone for too long. As tired as I am right now, I would not have traded this last week for anything. I would rather be exhausted and looking forward to some alone time than be alone, fighting my thoughts, as I search for some sort of human contact.
I am reminded of a story I heard a while back…
A man who lost his wife to cancer found himself wanting to be alone. In time he dropped out of his worshipping community and curtailed all of the activities he and his wife had shared for so many years. He increasingly kept to himself. He quit socializing at work and returned straight home to an empty house. His leisure time was now spent watching television or working in his shop in the basement.
His contact with people dwindled until friends became alarmed that he might live out his life as a recluse. One came by to visit and to invite him over for supper the next evening. The two old friends sat in comfortable chairs by a warm fireplace. The visitor extended the invitation and encouraged him to allow others to share his pain. The man responded that he figured that he was better off without being around other people, who seemed to remind him of all he had lost. And besides, it was just too difficult to get out anymore.
They sat in silence for a while, watching the wood burn in the fireplace. Then the visitor did an unusual thing. He took the tongs from the rack, reached into the fire, pulled out a flaming ember, and laid it down by itself on the hearth. He still said nothing. Both men silently watched the red-hot ember lose its glow and turn slowly into a crusty, black lump. After some moments, the man turned to his companion and said, “I get the message, my friend. I’ll be over tomorrow evening.”
We cannot survive in any healthy way by ourselves. The leaf needs the branch. The branch needs the trunk. The trunk needs the roots. And the roots need the rest of the tree. We are connected. And in that connection we find life.