Solitary Confinement

Advent 2012: Setting Captives Free

…from isolation to community    

Jim entered Megan’s hospital room and made a beeline to his newborn daughter. Justin looked up from the TV and immediately hopped down from his chair.

“Daddy,” he exclaimed, running over and hugging him around his legs. “Daddy, you smell funny.”

Megan sat quietly on her bed, trying hard not to get her feelings hurt from being totally ignored by Jim.

“Jim, at least wash your hands before you pick up the baby. You’re filthy,” she said. Jim picked up the baby anyway and turned his back toward Megan. “Jim, I’m serious. Go wash up!” Jim turned around and glared at Megan with wet, angry eyes.

“Megan, if you don’t shut up, I’m gonna…”

“You’re gonna what?” Megan interrupted. Jim took a step toward Megan in anger, accidently knocking his frightened son to the floor. Justin started crying for his mom, which set the baby to crying. Pretty soon all four of them were in tears.

“I’ve gotta get out of here,” Jim said to himself, but loud enough for Megan to hear.

“That’s right, get everyone riled up and then flee the scene of the crime like you always do,” Megan said.

Jim didn’t respond. He handed the baby over to Megan, bent down and apologized to his crying son, then turned and walked out. As he walked down the hall, he could hear his son crying for him to stay. Jim couldn’t bear it and ran down the hall as fast as he could.

The hospital doors opened and Jim felt the blast of winter wind on his red face. He ran to his dad’s pickup and took off spinning slush across the parking lot. Almost instinctively he started toward the old barn, but then reconsidered. He did a one-eighty right in the middle of the two-lane highway and headed the opposite direction.

Jim had driven a good way down the highway when his cell phone vibrated in his jeans pocket. It was his friend, Joe, from the diner.

“Hello,” Jim answered.

“Hey, Jim. This is Joe. I just heard about your dad,” Joe said.

“News travels fast ‘round here, doesn’t it. But that’s not the half of it, Joe,” Jim explained. “Megan and my mom are both in the hospital. Dad apparently kicked mom in the face last night and broke her jaw and Megan went into labor early and had our baby this morning!”

“Wow, Jim, that’s a lot for one person to deal with. How are you holding up? Are you at the hospital now?”

“Nah, I had to get out of there,” Jim answered. “Everything was going to hell-in-a-hand-basket and it was best for me to split.”

“I understand those feelings, Jim, I really do. But maybe it’s not such a great idea for you to be alone right now,” Joe suggested. “I’m headed over to my recovery meeting pretty soon, over at Christ Community on Highway T, why don’t you join me?”

“Nah, I’ll be okay. I just need to be alone,” Jim replied. “But thanks for the offer.”

“Well, I wish you’d reconsider,” Joe said with a bit of disappointment. “If you change your mind, meet me there at 7:00. I’ll wait at the front door and we can go in together. Jim, I care for you and I’ll be praying for you and your family.”

Jim hung up the phone and pulled off to the side of the road. He rested his head on the steering wheel and whispered, “God help me.” He blinked the tears out of his stinging eyes and sighed deeply.

Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;
 he breaks out against all sound judgment.           Proverbs 18:1

Advent Application: God made us for relationships. No one can live his or her entire life in isolation. We were all meant for community. When we isolate ourselves, we end up acting out in some way in an attempt to numb the pain of our loneliness. Then the shame of acting out brings us more pain that we attempt to numb by acting out again, and again, leading us into addictions and more isolation. It’s a vicious cycle. Jim appears to be at a crossroads, both literally and figuratively. Joe has reached out to him, inviting him to join him in the safe community of recovery, but Jim is the only one who can make the decision to join them or stay in his isolation. The wisdom of Proverbs 18:1 is profound, “whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire,” but it takes an act of surrender to finally admit our selfish desires are what got us into trouble in the first place.

God didn’t have to come to us as a newborn baby, totally dependent on an earthly mother and father. He could have appeared as a fully functioning, totally independent God-creature who lived alone in a cave carving rules and laws for us to follow. But community is important to God. God is love, and love only happens in relationships. The eternal community of the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is the supreme example of a loving relationship.

If you are feeling alone and isolated, you may also be struggling with a destructive habit or addiction. If so, go to and click on “Groupfinder” for a list of support groups in your area. Don’t stay isolated in your pain.

To read this story from the beginning, click here.


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