Only Love Overcomes Isolation

By Janett Miller
By Isaac Harris
By Charlyn Valencia
By Chad Golden
By Bruce Riley
By Jonathan Cortina
By Kuruvilla (K.O.) Oommen
By John Dyer
By Abe Paul
By Jennifer Durrett
By Penny Jones
By Amy Owen
By Jill Asibelua
By Madi McGraw
By Jared Barnett
By Paul Martin
By Jeremy Varnell
By Norm Headlam
By Kristi Herring
By Alban Snider
By Sissy Mathew
By Shannon Pugh
By Al Palamara
By Don Robb
By Mike Pope
By Melanie Mechsner
By Kyla Mikusek
By Michelle Garza
By Armando Galvan
By Jeremiah Betron
By Camille Holland
By Rod Myers
By Shannon Lewis
By Chase Studdard
By Crystal Elwell
By Darcy Peterson
By Jason Elwell
By Amy Aupperlee
By Tiffany Stein
By Barry Jones
By Bryan Eck
By Tricia Kinsman
By Jason Stein
By Nat Pugh
By Sarah Kemper
By Dana Myers
By Craig Pierce
By Jim Woodward
By Lindsey Sobolik
By Scott McClellan
By Andy McQuitty
By Pete Hyndman
By Kevin Dial
By Jason Roszhart
By Harvard Medical School
By Justin K. Hughes, MA, LPC
By Sherene Joseph
By Earl Davidson
By Rebecca Perry
By Joe Padilla
By Christian Melendez
By Bruce Riley
By Isaac Harris
By Amy Leadabrand
By Ben Haile
By Shaun Robinson
By Natalie Franks
By Cathy Barnett
By Ryan Sanders
By Casey Pruet, The Grace Alliance
By Sharon Arrington
By Lauren Chapin
By Betsy Paul
By Alberto Negron
By Kelly Jarrell
By Michelle Mayes
By Jenn Wright
By Jill Jackson
By Terri Moore
By Robyn Wise
By Katherine Holloway
By Richard Ray
By Kurtlery Knight
By Bruce Hebel
By Neil Tomba
By Tony Bridwell
By Grayson McGovern
By Luke Donohoo
By Kathy Whitthorne
By Mike Moore
By Wade Raper
By Mike Gwartney
By Jo Saxton
By Dieula Previlon
By Jonathan Cude
By Ken Lawrence
By Jay Hohfeler
By Barb Haesecke
By Lindsay Casillas
By JoAnn Hummel
By Shawn Small
By Alice McQuitty
By Jonathan Murphy
By Peggy Norton
By Brent McKinney
By Irving Bible Church
By Irving Bible Church
By Ashley Tieperman
By Betsy Nichols
By Trey Grant
By Debbie Lucien
By Sue Edwards
By Suzie Robinson
By Paul Smith

Last summer, the United States Surgeon General said that the most common disease in America is isolation. In an interview with Fernando Espuelas, Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said that social disconnection is a contributing factor in the problems of violence and mental health. 

“We have to ask ourselves, what causes people to have so much anger in themselves that they visit it upon other people in the form of violence. When we look at that we realize we have a great degree of isolation and frustration in our country.”

Think about that. We are a nation of 320 million people, 240 million of whom have at least one device that connects them to billions of others. Our wealth gives us more leisure time than most of the world’s nations. So we have more tools and time to connect with one another than most people on the planet. 

But we just won’t do it. 

In 2007, the American Sociological Review published a study that reported a dramatic drop in the size most Americans' core network of friends. They used the term “confidant” to describe those people with whom we discuss important issues of life. The study said that the average American has just two confidants. And those reporting no confidants jumped from 10 percent in 1985 to 25 percent.

Let that sink in. One in four people don’t have a single close friend to share life with. 

This is an epidemic that strikes at the core of what it means to be human. Followers of Jesus believe that we are made in the image of the trinitarian God. God has never lived in isolation. For eternity past and for eternity future, he exists in perfect harmonious relationship with himself. And so humans are created to be in relationship too. For five days, as God created the vast and marvelous reaches of his universe, he declared each new creative step to be “good.” Only one thing was “not good” and that was man in isolation. This is why every prison warden in human history — from Auschwitz to Hunstville — knows that the most severe form of punishment is solitary confinement. We are a herd species, created by a communal God to live in community. How tragic that our country has chosen to forego community apace with abandoning God. 

Why is that? How did we get here? And what’s the solution? 

The cause is complicated: individualism, capitalism, immigration, low population density that allows us to sprawl instead of assimilate. All of these and more are factors that contribute to our isolation. 

But the solution is entirely moral. It must come from our gut. The only thing that will overcome our nation’s most common malady is the courage to reach out, to renounce suspicion, to love our neighbors. The government can’t connect us in meaningful ways. Education won’t build greater trust. Only neighbors can love neighbors. 

In my neighborhood there’s a lady who lives alone. The weeds outside her door are high, and so is the cat population inside. Our family has taken to calling her “Lonely Lisa.” And this week we invited her to our Super Bowl party. Because if Lonely Lisa gets sick, who will know? And if Lonely Lisa’s isolation leads to mental illness or violent tendencies, I will count it a failure of my calling as a Christian, and another step backward for a nation who used to answer to the same label. The less connected we are to our neighbors, the less healthy we are, the less safe we are, and the less Christian we are.

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