As I Was Saying is a forum for a variety of perspectives to foster faith-related conversations among our readers with the goal of mutual learning, even in disagreement. Apart from articles written by editorial staff, these perspectives do not necessarily reflect the views of The Banner.
I recently spent 14 days in isolation in my room and my home office. One particular weekend my wife, my daughter, and I tested positive for COVID-19. Thankfully, we only had cold symptoms. My wife was the first to get it, isolating in our basement; then I got it and isolated upstairs; then my daughter got it and isolated in her room downstairs. Within a few days my wife tested negative and went back to work, then my daughter tested negative and came out of her room, but I kept testing positive, even though I had mild cold symptoms. During my 14 days in isolation, I learned four lessons from this form of suffering.
First, I was grateful I only had mild cold symptoms, that my family members brought me meals and drinks on a regular basis, and that between my office, bedroom, and bathroom, I had everything I needed. I asked one of my kids to bring me a case of bottled water, my favorite drink (Coke Zero), and the condiments for coffee. Second, I learned that the more time I spent in isolation, the more I got depressed and felt sorry for myself. Third, I was reminded about how my fellow Indigenous People have dealt with isolation for 400 years of what has been now called colonialization. Fourth, I found that as I felt a wide range of emotions, I had to continually reach into my spiritual toolbox of learned behavior to help me stay focused.
Indigenous People, along with so many other ethnicities around the world, have experienced isolation from mainstream society because of issues such as the color of their skin, the way they live, the way they dress, the way they think and talk, and the way they believe. When a dominant society tries to control another group of people, what ends up happening is that it creates isolation in various forms. It all comes down to one group not seeing the other group as made in the image of the Creator. Then isolation is a by-product of what happens in this type of community, town, city, province or state, and country as a whole.
Jesus and Isolation
When I look at the life of Jesus in Luke 4, he is rejected in his hometown of Nazareth and is in essence isolated and not accepted by his own people. The reason why Jesus goes off by himself, and spends time with his heavenly father is because experiencing rejection and isolation from the very people he wants to reach is so familiar to him. Jesus also quotes the Old Testament on various occasions and talks about the prophets being spurned or rejected. Luke 13:34 says, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.”
Here we see that Jesus wanted to bring together and gather these people who were like children. He wanted to protect them and show them the truth of the gospel. Yet instead of that happening, Jesus was isolated from reaching them because of the hardness of people’s hearts. Jesus was physically isolated from people, and he was symbolically isolated from people. The people wanted to do their own thing and have Jesus stay over there and do his own thing apart from them. This was the average response that Jesus experienced as he lived his life as being fully human and fully God. Jesus can strongly identify with rejection and isolation.
As I went through my 14 days of isolation and had a lot of time to think and overthink, many issues ran through my heart and mind. I can identify with Jesus’ rejection, and I can identify with the rejection of my fellow Indigenous People here in Canada. I also know all about my fellow Native American cousins down south and the rejection and isolation they’ve experienced. And of course there are many other ethnic groups across North America that feel the same way for a wide variety of reasons.
For me, as an Indigenous believer in Jesus, I feel that identifying with Jesus and the rejection he went through is so powerful because of all the people he healed and ministered to on the other side of the story. Jesus went through a powerful sense of isolation when he was dying on the cross for the sins of humankind. He cried out to his heavenly father and asked why he had forsaken and abandoned him. Here he felt isolation in his human body and spirit—the greatest magnitude of isolation that could ever be felt.
So when I reflect on the isolation and the times I felt sorry for myself in those 14 days, this is what was going through my heart and mind and how I processed it. Another thing that helped me get through it was connecting with Christian music and movies and connecting with people through phone calls or Zoom meetings. Reading the Bible more than I usually do also helped me out.
Sometimes we have to experience isolation before we can truly process it and come to terms with what it means, why it exists, and then what to do in response to it. These are the basic rudiments of isolation, a lesson plan that everyone has experienced in one way or another. I want to encourage anyone who is experiencing isolation for any reason to not suffer alone. Reach out to others, reach out to Jesus, and ride it out together. This is the exact opposite of isolation.