From Isolation to Community

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tuesday morning I had the privilege of sharing some of my story before a group of women at my church. When the large group leader asked me if I would be willing to speak, I was a little bit nervous, but excited at the same time. I had never spoken in front of a large group before, but prayed that God would make the words flow and what I said would be an encouragement to those listening. The group is doing a study on Ephesians and we have been learning about the importance of community within the Body of Christ. And so, when I was asked to speak, I knew exactly what I wanted to share. Because much of what I spoke about involves many of you, I wanted to share my thoughts here on my blog as well. So, here it is, in paragraph form…

There have been a couple of times in my life when I have learned and then re-learned the importance of leaning on the Lord. Most recently, I was reminded of this during the last year. For those of you who know me well, you know that about a year and a half ago, my husband and I moved away from Santa Rosa to the Sacramento area. There were several reasons for our move that seemed smart at the time…including moving for my husband’s work and to bring my mom closer to where my brother lives.

Once moved, we tried to find a church. In fact, I think we bounced around to maybe all the churches in town! For some reason, though, none of them seemed like a fit. We kept on trying, though because we understood how important it is to stay connected with other believers. Hebrews 10:25 tells us to “…not give up meeting together , as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…” When we first moved there, I had no idea how much that verse would come to mean to me.

During this time, we faced some challenges and trials in our family…the first of which shattered our world. Our daughter decided to remove herself from our family and we were, and still are, utterly devastated. Since we were new in the area and had not made any connections, we felt we had no one to turn to. I felt isolated and alone. Yes, I had my husband…but in the hours when he was at work, I had just my own thoughts to keep me company. And at the time, my thoughts were too painful bear. Loneliness and despair settled in.

The enemy likes to keep us isolated. He wants us to be unhappy and to feel as if we have nowhere to turn -- that we have no hope. So when my world turned dark, he was having a hay-day. Little things that normally wouldn’t have bothered me began to pile up and my stress level and depression increased.

We need the Body of Christ.

God made us for community and I so wanted to feel better. I knew that being able to connect with others in my new home would have helped me to get my mind off of my pain, but I knew no one. I didn’t know where to turn… So, thankfully, I turned my focus to God. I was daily in prayer. In fact, I poured my heart out to Him day after day…hour after hour. I read the Bible, focusing on the Psalms. Through them, He spoke words of courage and comfort to me.

My situation was still there. My pain and feelings of loss were still there, but so was my God. I was not alone, He was with me, and as we have been learning in this study, He wanted to be there with me. He chose me to be adopted into His family and He wasn’t going to toss me aside no matter what was happening in my life.

Paul reminds us that God’s love is never ending. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present or the future nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38)

As I prayed for God to take away my pain - to heal me - to bring me out of my isolation…He started to unwrap His plan. Surprisingly, the first thing that God did, was to bring me encouragement and friendship through an online community!

I’m a blogger and I’ve used my blog over the years to share the things that God has taught me. I firmly believe that our experiences and lessons learned should be shared in order to build up the Body for Christ. I want people to see how excited I am about God and what He has done in my life, and be encouraged and in turn, seek Him.

Anyway, one day I went to my computer, opened it up and started writing. I poured out my feelings of loss to an unknown audience. I didn’t know if anyone would even read my blog that day…but wouldn’t you know it? God brought exactly the right women to it on that particular day. I had responses from women whom I had never heard from before…people I didn’t know, but all part of the family of faith. So many of them understood exactly what I was going through and had experienced the very same things I had been experiencing that year. It was pretty amazing.

My isolation lessened through the support and encouragement of sisters in Christ from all parts of the world. They listened to me and prayed for me. They offered scriptures and kind words right when I needed it the most. Now, a year later, I consider these women, whom I’ve never even met face to face, to be true friends. (And if you are reading this today, you know who you are! Thank you so much for allowing Christ to shine His light through you to help my hurting heart!)

Community is so important. I don’t think I understood that fully until my season of isolation last year. If I’ve taken anything away with me through this experience, it is to be purposeful in forming connections. I’ve learned to be transparent and open. I don’t need to be afraid to share the feelings in my heart. I learned that when I trusted God, and reached out…in this case, through my blog… I was helped so much. The connections formed were God-planned and life-saving.

Now that God has graciously brought us back to Santa Rosa, I’m doing a happy dance! I love being home with our church family and “face to face” friends. Because of what I learned over the last year, I find that I am more open and willing to participate. I think that is because I have learned the value of community, fellowship and being connected with others…which is how God planned it to be.

“From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Ephesians 4:16

In His Grip,

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  1. What a beautiful testimony of God's faithfulness! I am so very thankful to read this today, as I could relate to so many aspects of what you are/were feeling and going through. I think sometimes God takes us through those places of isolation to show HIMSELF to us and to reveal to us firsthand that He is a Friend that sticks closer than a brother. Sometimes, He chooses to BE that friend to us through other believers in the Body of Christ. How blessed we are to be a part of it, and to know that when one member suffers, they all do. I am so sorry for your deep loss through your daughter's decision. I trust God will lead her back to you, some way, somehow. I can't imagine the pain in your heart over this! God bless you and comfort you and keep you in His tender embrace. Much love to you and gratitude for sharing your testimony.

  2. I'm so happy for you that God has returned you to your wonderful face to face friends. I'm also thankful that He connected us online. Your faithfulness to Him, your encouragement to me and many others, and your prayers are a huge blessing. Thank you! I love how God is able to use our valley times for His glory. Blessings to you dear friend!

  3. I'm glad that you were encouraged this morning. I love how you mentioned that God takes us through those places of isolation. We need to always remember that life is not stagnant...we are not "stuck" in our current circumstances...God is leading us through them every step of the way!

    Blessings, Joan

  4. I am so thankful for the encouragement that you have given me over this past year. It has been so wonderful to know that I am no alone and that God placed people in our lives as incredible blessings!

    Love, Joan

  5. God is good. Is your daughter still disconnected? At 16, my daughter had to go live with the father she kept threatening me she was going to live with because of her unacceptable rude behavior. She never came back. We are close today but just cannot live together. She claims I "kicked her out" and I suppose I did. Guilt and sadness attempt to creep into my life over that from time to time but I refuse to give it face time. I know the heartache of the mother daughter severed relationship to an extent but not to the extent of your disconnection. I pray that if she has not returned, she will. Good for you for stepping up to the speaking challenge. Thanks for sharing with us.

  6. Hi Mary!

    I'm so sorry that you went through that difficult time with your daughter. I'm so glad that there has been reconciliation, though, and I pray that your relationship with her continues to grow! I'm glad you are not giving "face time" to the guilt you are feeling sometimes. Guilt is not from God...He has set us free! We haven't heard anything from our daughter in over a year. She is 27, married and a mother of 2. My prayer is that she will feel the tug of God on her heart and she will return to a right relationship with Him. Yes, I'd love our relationship restored as well...but when she said "good-bye" it was because we are Christians and she said she was an atheist. So, I know her heart is hurting and she needs God above all else. I love her and miss her but I am trusting God as He takes us all on this journey.

    Blessings, Joan

  7. I will put your daughter in the same prayer as my daughter, Joan. She's also 27 and just sort of floundering right now. Not making wise choices.

  8. Thank you, Mary. I'll be praying for your daughter as well! <3 Joan

  9. Such a beautiful testimony, Joan. I'm glad you were able to deliver it in person, but also glad you shared it here with us. I amen your gratitude for the blogging community. It's brought me a lot of spiritual connections too. God works everywhere!

  10. Yes He does, and I am so thankful! Blessings, Joan

  11. What a powerful testimony, dearest Joan. I am right there with you-- I have to learn (and re-learn) the importance of community. As an army family, we move a lot and finding authentic community is by far one of the hardest parts. The enemy tries to convince me that it is not worth the effort, because after all, we will only be in one place for a short time.

    But God prevails and has given us the richest community here in WA than ever before. But we had to take that first step of obedience. (Sorry for the novel. Ha.)

    Thanks for sharing this with our community-- and I am SO blessed to be part of your URL community (maybe someday we will be IRL?)

  12. Hi Joan! I am sure you made a lasting impression on the women who heard you speak. Your story is so compelling, and you were so honest and open. I hope you get the opportunity to tell that story again sometime.
    Who knows why God chooses such hard things for us to go through? But he always provides the support and grace to be in those moments, and what a HUGE blessing those commenters were on your blog after you poured yourself out. Wonderful Joan. God is so good.
    Blessings from Blessing Counters (we're neighbors!)

  13. It can be difficult, especially if we move around a lot...but it is so important and is how God planned for us to live -- in community with others in the Body of Christ. Who knows what can happen through a certain connection...even if it is just for a short time? God always has a plan and I am so thankful for the encouragement and support He gave to me through a wonderful online community! I'm so glad that you are finding a wonderful community in your new home. What a blessing!

    Hey...maybe I should have entitled my post: "From URL to IRL" ? Love that!

    Blessings, Joan

  14. Thank you, Ceil! That was my prayer :-) I wanted people who felt alone to know that we are never alone...God is with us, and when we reach out to Him, He'll bless us in surprising ways...even through an online community!

    Blessings, Joan

  15. Truly inspiring! Thank you for sharing!

  16. I just love you and so love calling you friend. I love how God builds community through this online world. And love how He used it to bring healing to you. He is so good. Love you much. xoxo

  17. He surprises me everyday with a new source of encouragement! This online community has been (and still is) such an awesome support during difficult times. I am so thankful for the friends I have met and the relationships formed! Community is so important! I'm so glad God connected us!

    Blessings & love, Joan



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