Under Old Testament law, whenever people had a sore on their skin, they were brought before the priest for examination, declared “ceremonially unclean,” and isolated for seven days. (Leviticus 13:4-5) In today’s environment, someone exposed to or tested positive for COVID-19 is isolated for an average period of fourteen days.
Certain businesses, retail establishments, services, parks, beaches, and churches have been in “lockdown” in the last several months. Feelings of isolation have become common. These feelings are often expressed as, “I feel remote or secluded, as if I am in darkness, hidden from everyone.”
The companion to these feelings is loneliness. “I am all alone, solitary, and miss being around people. Everything seems bleak, desolate, and hopeless.” Psalm 25:16)
There are any number of situations that can cause feelings of isolation and loneliness. Have you ever had an experience of a near-death auto accident or getting the news of a family member having Stage 4 cancer or of a child being born as a “crack or A.I.D.S.” baby or received notice that a family member or friend contracted or died from COVID-19? Feelings of isolation and loneliness are part of your emotional package and can easily be triggered by fear, which we know is false evidence appearing real. This means those feelings can be dealt with in a way that gives them less power over your daily life.
The degree of your feelings of isolation and loneliness will be influenced by your personality, which typically can be fun-loving or optimistic, easy-going, calm and relaxed, or controlling and purposeful. What we all seek is a solution to these feelings. Like all long-lasting responses to life’s stressful situations, the answers are inside each of us.
The first step to overcome the “stuff” is to check in with God through prayer. There is no stigma or embarrassment in prayer. It’s personal; you can be yourself. Prayer is not a cowardly act, but it does require a “childlike” attitude. Prayer does not require your feet or your hands or even your eyes. But you will need your voice and tongue to make your request. There is no charge for making your petition, and He always hears it. However, here are some important steps you might want to be committed to while you are waiting for an answer to your request:
Whatever you do, do not murmur and complain!
Isolation and loneliness are not and never have been, part of God’s purpose for you. Isolation and loneliness are not and never have been, part of God’s future for you. Prayer is His solution to ensure that you receive the eternal plans He has for you.
Emotions are complex and express themselves in different ways. Familiar examples are love, joy, happiness, gratefulness, hate, depression, sadness, anger, and others. They all have different expressions and different outcomes.
How often have you seen the various little sun-shaped faces used in texts, emails, or other forms of communication? Their purpose is to make a point about what emotion someone may be expressing at that time. These little iconic symbols have the potential to trigger one or more of the feelings listed above.
One of the most common, and probably the most fluid of all the emotions, is anger. It usually is triggered when someone believes their rights (or another’s) have been violated. When this happens, two things are stirred up in the mind of the person who becomes angry. One is revenge and getting even. The other is bitterness and unforgiveness. At this point, one can exercise their privilege to engage in these actions or do the opposite and yield the right by overcoming anger and bitterness. That means, blow it off and forgive.
Anger is a natural response and is considered justified, given certain conditions. For example, The Philistines had gathered their forces for war, determined to wipe out Israel. Goliath, the champion of the Philistines, provoked the soldiers of Israel. David, a young 22-year-old shepherd boy, was stirred to anger by the curses of Goliath. But his actions were driven by his love of Israel and his trust in God. He killed Goliath with a stone from his slingshot and then cut off Goliath’s head. If there is such a thing as being on the righteous side of anger, this is a powerful illustration.
When anger becomes all-consuming like a forest fire in the soul and festers like an infected aneurism in the brain, it will increase vulnerability to unhealthy consequences. Anger is an epic contributor to expressions of violence and hate.
Hundreds of the most celebrated movies of all time include the themes of anger and revenge. The Bible is no exception. When one of David’s sons raped his half-sister, his son, Absalom, plotted for two years to avenge the defilement of his virgin sister. He finally succeeded in carrying out his plot to kill his half-brother. Even more dramatic is my personal battle to overcome my anger and unforgiveness toward my former spouse.
The right to become angry exists in all of us, but this privilege often carries a high price tag. The cost of anger can be measured statistically through hospitals, mental institutions, among military service members, first responders, divorces, broken friendships, fractured families, churches, political parties, racism, other countries, broken agreements—even our four-legged best friends if they could talk, would share their experience with anger.
By now, some of you may be expressing cynicism. “Control anger? That is a joke, and easier said than done.”
I would, rather emphatically, agree with you. Today’s environments contradict every possibility that controlling anger is attainable. However, before you completely throw away the idea that it is possible to control/overcome anger, permit me to ask a few questions.
If you put all of the outcomes of anger in one column and the outcomes of love in the other, which column do you think would be greater? (1 John 3:1)
There are a few steps we can take to move us closer toward the control of anger:
I have to admit that I realize it is not easy to control anger, but it certainly is possible. Although it will take some work, I look forward to hearing about your healthier journey toward the direction to control your anger.
I had never thought much about rubber bands. Sometimes I use them to keep things closed. But the process for making rubber bands consists of a variety of complicated actions. Starting with natural rubber slabs, the rubber band making business involves the use of water, talcum powder, certain chemicals, a mechanized rolling pin, an oven, extruding machine, and long tubes. When the process is finished, the rubber band is strong enough to withstand stretching and flexible enough to be used in a variety of ways.
When stressful situations enter our lives, uninvited, they can seem like a truck driving through the front door. We become anxious and want immediate resolution or, at the very least, a quick change for the better. When certain people come into our space and sabotage our emotions, we sometimes become impatient and angry. A display of anger or lack of self-control can destroy a relationship.
A crucial point to keep in mind: there will always be people and situations in our lives that require patience.
Like a rubber band, these unexpected challenges will stretch us, quite often for an extended period of months, or even years. Patience does not mean you curl up in a cocoon and lose hope. It may mean changing your expectations and looking for the positive aspects of the experience that produce character building, expressions of thankfulness, and having faith/hope that God will bring the solution that creates the best plan for you. (Romans 8:28)
Stretching builds our character and creates enduring trust in Him. During these rubber band situations, trust that the creativity of God is always active. His stretching will require patience and endurance from you, which means standing firm despite the obstacles or pain. (James 1:2-8) Job, (pronounced Jobe with a long O), throughout several months of extreme pain and suffering, exhibited patience, endurance, and faith. The reward for his patience was monumental. (Job 1-42) Athletes become great through their display of patience and endurance, and they do not quit every time they experience pain.
Rubber bands are useful because they can be stretched, which makes them remarkably resilient for many purposes. Have you ever wondered why a rubber band loses its elasticity (stretchiness)? I read that over time, the ingredients called “volatiles,” which keep it soft and flexible, evaporate, and it becomes stiff and breaks. In the same way, people often become hardened and inflexible, like a stiff rubber band. This is more likely to happen when we lose our trust in God. He has all the ingredients to frame us so that we remain mature, strong, and purposeful.
To achieve the benefit from our stretching moments, it may mean a change in thinking. Discipline yourself to embrace change, be flexible and open to adjustment, seek the truth, look for better ways to accomplish certain daily things, and practice being grateful.
We use rubber bands in many ways. We should view ourselves as being created to be used by God for His perfect mission for us. What better way for Him to accomplish His purpose than to stretch us like a rubber band beyond our “comfort zone.” (James 1:3-4)