Solitary confinement: a form of imprisonment in which a prisoner is isolated from any human contact.
I’m not really sure why I’m writing on this topic. What I do know is that the Lord has not let the topic go. (When you are awakened at 2:46am and you are thinking about this topic.)
Someone feels, isolated, cut off and and in an unseen jail cell.
Wondering how in the world did you get here?
Social isolation is the most damaging thing in solitary confinement. It has you in a place of absolute silence. You can’t reach out and no one can reach in. The walls are too high and too thick. Because you are socially untouchable, it triggers lots of physical, emotional, and mental symptoms.
Here it is:
“Human beings are social creatures. Without the benefit of another person to “bounce off of” the mind decays; without anything to do, the brain atrophies; and without the ability to see off in the distance, vision fades. Isolation and loss of control breeds anger, anxiety, and hopelessness.”
I personally hate, loathe small places. I’m not overly fond of elevators, especially crowded ones. If you’ve ever ridden to the top of the Empire State Building, you know what I mean. If you don’t, let me tell you. It is the longest minute of your life! They pack that elevator so full and then it takes a literal minute to get to the top. I have to slow my breathing down and try to not panic. I would have to grab hold of your hand to help me stay calm. Cannot stand small enclosed spaces.
The way I see it, they are two reasons on how you got here. (probably a thousand more, these are very general) Here’s the truth, it probably was great advice, but you got comfortable there and before you knew it, days turned into weeks, weeks into a year, and a year turned into 5. You realized you were in there and didn’t know how to get out.
1. Someone put you there.
So, someone put you in solitary confinement.
You probably didn’t realize it at the time. It was a way to protect you or so they thought.
Someone gave you advice and said you need to step back and be alone for awhile.
Maybe it’s because of your title at work, and everyone around you has put that label on you. Isolated you simply because of your title. You are considered the “expert” and no one feels like they can disagree with you or talk openly and freely about what is going on.
You were placed in solitary by the very friend who brought you back to life but has now chosen to place you back in your grave again.
You were placed in solitary because of the jealousy of other people.
You were put there by the judgements/accusations of others and you don’t feel confident there is a way to defend yourself.
2. You placed yourself there.
You put yourself there because you convinced yourself it was the best way to protect someone.
You put yourself in solitary because you can’t bear the thought of owning your sin and facing the guilt you feel so it looked like an easier option for you to simply remove yourself for awhile.
You put yourself in solitary because you are running from someone or something. Just maybe, no one will notice.
You put yourself in because you have to protect your spouse. No one can really know what goes on at home. You are under an unsaid gag order. What would it look like to disrespect your spouse?
You put yourself there because you put up too many boundaries and have locked yourself up and thrown away the key.
Boundaries are the most healthy thing. We all need them. But too many can be as bad as not enough.
In Acts 16. Paul and Silas are arrested and were thrust into the inner prison: the innermost part of it, the lowest or furthest part of the prison; so that there were more doors, bolts, and bars, to break open, and pass through, should they attempt to make their escape.
Acts 16.25-26 “Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of EVERY prisoner fell off.” (emphasis mine)
So, how do you get out of solitary confinement?
Praying and worshipping are astronomical in helping us recover ourselves. I’m not saying an actual earthquake will happen, but an earthquake in the depths of your heart, will release the chains holding you in solitary confinement.
By saying it, you release the power it held you in captivity The chains start to disintegrate and fall away. It starts you on the road to healing.
Forgiveness is also crucial. It may take you saying I forgive them every minute of the day until you actually have forgiven them. Some extreme circumstances may take awhile. But the act of obedience to say it has huge implications for you. Emotionally, Physically and Spiritually.
Who has reached out to you in the last month and you told them no?
Who showed up for you again?
Who has cheered you on?
Who has refused to give up on you even though you’ve refused their every attempt to fight alongside you?
You know, they are willing to go with you into the trenches and you won’t allow them to. You have to wake up and ask. It’s ok, you can.
It takes a tremendous amount of vulnerability to ask it the first time. In fact, once you say it, you will question why you ever let the cat out of the bag. What can of worms have you opened? Will you be judged, criticized, or ridiculed?
There is not a quick fix for getting out of solitary confinement. Grab hold of the hands that are reaching into the trench.
They are there for a reason. That reason is you. Trust them with your story. Trust them with your heart. They will not let you go alone and they will fight until you escape that place of confinement.
Let someone shoulder the burden you are carrying. Tell them what you need. It really is ok to confess that you need someone. You know, the Word says something about this:
Ecclesiastes 4.12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
One of my dearest friends sent me a text last summer. It pretty much made me cry on the spot. I saved it and I go back and read it every couple of weeks. Profound to say the least:
“Praying for you too Toni…direction on where to live, when, and a peaceful release in letting others help you where needed (it is but a phase), praying for your boys and their direction….and God would speak loudly to you about every detail you are worried about.”
She knew. She reached out. And I grabbed hold. Because I’ve had such trouble letting people help me. Asking them for help.
Side note: I realized as I was writing this piece, I had overwhelming emotions rising up in me. I am not currently in solitary, but was there. It sucks the life out of you and has you on an emotional roller coaster. I’m grateful for those hands that reached in the trench and then hoisted me out. Without you, I might still be there. At one point I thought I might actually suffocate.
You breathed life into me and gave me hope. You need to know there is not a day that goes by I’m not grateful and full of awe you are walking with me. You know who you are. Thank you.
Don’t stay in any longer. Grab that hand.