I am the first-born of three kids; I have a younger brother then sister. I also have all the typical first-born characteristics: independent, parent-pleaser, rule-follower, strong-willed (some call it stubborn I say they just hate to be wrong and my way is better anyways). For example, a couple years ago I was able to go to Europe and tour London, parts of Ireland and some of Paris by myself. Several people couldn't believe I did it alone. I don't mind being by myself and doing things by myself. I actually like it. My favorite hobbies are very individual oriented (reading and photography). Unless absolutely necessary, I've been to all the doctor's visits alone and I find it difficult to ask anyone for help (this could be a pride issue--chewing on this one) because I want and like to do it myself or by myself.
Can independence turn into isolation? Our community group disbanded and we have yet to actively seek another. This summer I didn't work at the church but stayed home with the kids and had little to no contact with others except for on Sundays. I felt very isolated from life in general (I'm sure of you other stay at home moms can relate to that) and apart from the goings on in other peoples' lives.
Let me just say I don't think times of isolation are bad. We see Jesus frequently going off by Himself to be with the Lord and on the cross He suffered the ultimate isolation of being completely separated from God. God uses isolation to bring about change as He did with me this summer but we are not built to stay in it.
The isolation didn't start to bother me until the end of the summer when we started getting ready for the kids to go back to school and I realized I would have nothing to do while they were gone. I really started to feel isolated and alone. I began to wonder why I hadn't heard from anyone; was this isolation my fault; had I been lax in my efforts to maintain relationships that were once a daily part of my life; how do I go about correcting this; do I want to even make the effort to correct it? God really didn't give me a choice in that one.
For the second time in less than a year I am facing surgery; not a simple "day" surgery like for my gall bladder, but one that is major and carries greater risks and a much longer hospital stay and recovery time. I have no choice but to rely on others to take care of my family: spiritually, emotionally, physically, possibly financially (don't worry, we're not moving 3 days after this surgery is done) and to take care of me--the independent one who has no choice but to ask for help, because what do you know, I'm not superwoman. I have a community of people who are not just willing to serve but who are honored to do so, who genuinely care about the needs of my family and want to meet those needs because it is what Christ did for us. I am overwhelmed and humbled by their support and thankful to not be isolated anymore.
This also has me thinking about my neighbors--Brad likes to say they're called APARTments for a reason. How many of us have neighbors who might consider themselves isolated? Are we isolating ourselves and not being salt and light to them? What can I do to change this and truly serve them? More things to chew upon as I continue with the strange blessing that comes in the shape of a Brazil nut.