Faith and Isolation

It has been a few weeks since classes were canceled and the world as we know it shifted.

How’re you all doing? I can sense an air of tension and unease within the world; I think we have reached a point of mourning and confusion.

I know I have been battling an abundance of feelings regarding COVID-19 and the strangeness of this time.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how fast this all changed; it is just as I said before––the world as we knew it shifted. Classes were canceled. Trips were canceled. Projects are delayed. And now we all sit lonely in our homes looking out windows, spending time with our families, attending virtual meetings, and earning our degrees over FaceTime, Zoom, Google Meet, and even GroupMe.

Truly, this is unprecedented.

The last several days I’ve been able to reflect over the situation and feel it with my entire body. I’ll say, while it has been mostly blessings for me, there have been intense moments––days––in which I’ve felt stranded on the Island of Isolation, population: me.

While I know this loneliness is not an emotion exclusively experienced by yours truly, I would be lying if I told you all that I felt any sense of unity with this knowledge.

I’ve felt a lot of confusion and doubt. This has been a sad consistency in my life since before the COVID-19 outbreak. I feel blessed that this time has [gracefully] forced me to sit with the reality of that truth.

I wonder how many of you have felt how I have been feeling lately. I gave my life to Christ nearly five years ago, yet I feel my relationship with Jesus has been experiencing heavy turbulence. While I’m confident my hope and salvation remains in the Lord, I regret to confess that I have been weighed down by the chains of shame and self-righteousness.

My favorite rapper, Andy Mineo, tweeted something a few weeks ago that really struck me.

“You ever want to talk to God… then realize it’s been so long, that you feel guilty? Then just decide not to because you don’t want to feel like a hypocrite? Then you’re right back where you started?”

Reading this didn’t spark some crazy revelation within me, and it didn’t scare me to know that my favorite artist experienced separation from the Lord. It did, however, remind me of my humanness. I regret that I am prone to wander––it’s my least favorite personality trait.

I’ve been in a long season of experiencing sincere doubt, my friends. It is difficult for me to confess this; I recently opened up about this to a friend. She encouraged me and she reminded me that this happens sometimes.

While I know the world is feeling the weight of this collective trauma that is COVID-19, I maintain this [false] truth that I cannot fail. If this time is a test, I have failed it. And I hate that in my head things are so black and white. I almost have no room for love or grace.

And this is a painful reality that I know exists in the lives of others too. It has been this way for a long time, and it is only through this isolation and doubt that God has revealed the Truth to me.

I love Him for that.

I have these index cards on my wall that I made last year after Women’s Weekend. In my doubting, I’ve considered taking them down. I told myself that if I didn’t believe it, I didn’t need to have it stuck to my wall as if I rested in that promise. Here’s the God-thing though. I went to take it down. If I might say so, it was quite dramatic of me––how I reached to pull the small white card from its place on the wall.

The verse was 1 Samuel 16:7, “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.”

This has consistently been a verse that God has brought me back to. There’s so much here that He promises in these few words He gave us in 1 Samuel.

I’m the kind of person that relies a little too much on the opinion of others in order to accept myself. In this, I do a lot of unnecessary things in order to keep up “appearances.” I want people to see me doing a good job––I don’t like it when I fail and everyone can see it.

(And I don’t know anyone who does)

There was a moment before I could allow myself to take it down in which God whispered something to me. It was soft and I almost didn’t hear it, ya know? But I know it was Him. He was like, “see? It’s not what you’re doing. I’m not looking at that.”

I’ve been having so much trouble getting into the Word these days too. And it’s not because I don’t want to. If He looked at my heart (and He is and did), He would see a ton of “want.” The thing is, there’s this unidentifiable pressure/doubt that exists between me and the Truth. Maybe it’s just my “mild” depression that prevents me from it. Maybe it’s the enemy. Maybe it’s both. The point is: it has been happening.

I called my grandma about two weeks ago and we talked awhile and caught up. I love her so much––she’s my best friend. She was talking to me about my faith. My grandma is a pretty religious and spiritual woman; she has always encouraged me and showed me what it looks like to have a relationship with the Lord. I haven’t really talked to her much about this tension I’ve been feeling in my relationship with Jesus lately. Even so, it was kind of like God told her what to say without her even knowing what I was feeling.

We were just talking about how strange COVID-19 and social isolation is; she wonders if this all is a sign that Jesus is coming back. I’ll admit that her words carried a heavy weight when I heard them. I had this anxious thought of:

“oh my gosh, i’m not ready !!!”

But my grandma didn’t pick up on this at all, she just kept on going and talking. She finished with, “this is all confusing and strange for everyone. At least you have your faith, Caitie. Many people don’t have that. At least you have your faith.”

And I don’t know why (grace? conviction? love?) but those words, “at least you have your faith” struck me in a place I haven’t been struck in before.

I wanted to say, “I don’t have that though. I’m scared, I’m lonely. I’m hurting. I’m mad.”

But it was like none of that mattered to me anymore. She said it: I have my faith.

And it seemed right that the next time I was in the Word that I was led to Galatians (my favorite book of the Bible). This is what He told me:

Galatians 1:4, “[Jesus Christ] gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of God and the Father.”

The Truth in this resounded in my heart, in my soul, like the first time I ever heard the Gospel. Jesus came to RESCUE us––me––and the language Paul uses serves as a reminder that He didn’t come to abandon me, He didn’t come to hurt me. The definition and action of the word “rescue” is an anchor––a promise that His love for me (for all of us) isn’t a lie.

We need a savior. I need a savior. And I don’t need to be ashamed of that.

Verse 10: “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

This is still fresh, still raw for me to read. As a self-proclaimed people-pleaser, this borders on rejection, yet I feel this confident conviction here. It’s not a rejection; rather, it’s an assurance. I am a new creation, and new creations serve Jesus, they serve the Kingdom. Sometimes I work so much to be accepted by people, to make others happy, that I forget I am pre-accepted, pre-loved, by Jesus.

And the Good News is that I didn’t [and never will] need to do anything to deserve it. The words, “if I were still trying…” offer the TRUTH I’ve been ignoring––the Gospel I have been doubting.

It’s about letting go of the need to prove myself, to keep up “appearances,” and to make people happy.

It’s an essential element of the Gospel.

My new mantra: I am loved because I am Loved.

And my grandmothers assurance came to fruition as I read Galatians 2:15-21.

In essence, “a person is not justified by what they do, but by their faith.”

Faith, God told us, is the assurance of things hoped for (Hebrews 11:1). I have hope that this true: the gospel is that I am loved because I am Loved, that Jesus came to earth from Heaven by the Will and Grace of God the Father, to rescue me, to rescue us, from the darkness of sin, from having to prove ourselves. So it’s not about how many times I do or don’t do *blank*, it’s about faith. It’s about having faith that Jesus came to rescue me.

My friend, if you feel your faith is wavering, can I remind you of our Hope? Perhaps in this confusing time of isolation and distance, you have fallen into this chasm of self-righteousness, into the darkness of proving yourself. Perhaps you haven’t been reading. Perhaps you haven’t gone to online-church or streamed a service. Maybe you, like me, feel trapped––like you’ve gone so long without spending time with your Father that it feels like He doesn’t even want you anymore.

Will you know that it’s not true? I feel it. We can be prodigals together. We can come back to Him, we can remember our faith, we can cling to the Gospel, we can know that we are loved because He loves us with this gracious, fantastic, agape love. The nature of God is to have His arms open for us.

“At least you have your faith, Caitie.” And she was right. I do have that. I know that now. And I’m not mad. I’m a little hurt, but it is Good.

You remember that scene in Inside Out when we all realized that when Joy allowed Sadness to take control over Riley’s actions, her parents came to her rescue? (I did that on purpose). I think it’s kind of like that with God. Sometimes we just need to be honest with Him and admit where we are. He knows. He knows and He sent Jesus to comfort and rescue us.

A friend and mentor recently shared this with me. Corrie ten Boom said, “you can never learn that God is all you need, until God is all you have.”

I cringed a little, I can’t lie, it felt very instagram/facebook-mom of me to share that––but there is Good truth here. I’m learning He is all I need. I hope that all of these words can help you in your learning too.

thank you, friends.

grace and peace.

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