Ep. 21 – Phoenix – Insulate, Isolate.
Is there a difference? Don’t think so. How many ways do we have of separating ourselves from the reality of our lives. Arm’s length we stumble (toddle?) through life, daring not to touch, to allow ourselves intimacies. I’m least interested in why we do it – more intrigued by how.
Children do it differently than adults, it seems to me. It’s even more deadly when kids try to separate themselves from ugliness they encounter. The harsh reality registers quite deep, seemingly instantaneously. They internalize so easily. The younger they are, the less able they are to separate themselves from their experiences intellectually. They see ugly; they are ugly.
But the contrary is equally true. A loving gesture, word or deed in their direction is rewarded with love leaping from their eyes, and we are engulfed by the tenderness of their little smiles. I know of what I speak. I am a grandma, or Bubbe, to be more culturally precise.
Our little grandson, aptly named Lev—Hebrew for heart—was born with multiple heart defects. When the national specialists said they haven’t seen the like for a decade, we knew we were in for a long ride. And I say we because it touches not only the immediate family, but our circle of friends, other family and even acquaintances.
No harm was intended, but all of the tubes protruding from his tiny chest, the IV’s running into his frail little arms, head and even into his thin little feet could have an ugly, painful impact on his tiny soul. After five months and two heart surgeries, even though his “healing” was complete two months ago, there is still a faraway look emanating from that perfect little face.
He watches everything, but doesn’t seek to enter in. He is truly within himself. It takes a Bubbe’s playful entreaties, a mommy and daddy’s looks and words of pure love, to evoke a smile from this little man. But when he smiles, it is from his core and uses all that he is. He can be drawn out even after the mind-boggling, literal heart-wrenching ordeal of his young life. I believe that with time and being surrounded by such tenderness, he will be more and more drawn out to perhaps being able to be the first to offer a loving gesture, word or touch.
I shudder to imagine how he could ever be enticed to rejoin his world if he didn’t have such a loving circle. We reach out to babies with unconditional love. Not all have such support. And sadly, there are so many injured little people who grow up to be isolated big people.
How do we avoid engaging in our world when we experience such brokenness? There are those, of course, who just lash out, perhaps in an effort to equalize the pressure inside. These victims become the perpetrators of the future victims. We know how that story goes. There are also those who turn their pain on themselves, mistreating their own bodies.
But there are those little ones who perhaps can’t even cry out, for whom there is no loving kindness to draw them out. It is they who create their own insulation. It is they who play out life’s drama only in their minds. This isn’t just about active fantasy lives, but cerebral pursuits of many kinds.
I have to ask how many seemingly obsessive seekers of higher education are doing so as their effort to equalize pressure. I am not negating the massive level of good performed by such as scientists, engineers, philosophers, doctors, teachers and even writers. My concern is that hidden among these intellectual giants are some of the truly walking wounded. They more often have ideas as their companions, causes as their true loves.
Some do manage to literally stumble into their true loves. Often they are like-minded souls and for a moment in time each allows the other in. Hurrah! Perhaps together they can perform mutual healing therapy. But the danger is that their habits of thought and their ordering of the universe will not allow for the fullness of relationships for which they both yearn.
Their world inherently has themselves at its core, as a defense and coping mechanism. Now they are to not only allow the other person residence in their hearts, their minds, their very souls, but they each must defer to the other, each giving 100%. The danger is that there is not enough love to bridge the gap.
And that is why I love God. While our Messiah walked on this earth, he personified the unconditional love the Father had spent eons trying to express. We are not just broken people. This is a broken world. God didn’t break it. He just stands in the wings, loving us, encouraging us and seeking to sovereignly make us whole.
There is not enough personal lifetime, not enough lovers, not enough kindness to penetrate our isolated, insulated hearts. God knows that and He tells us He can take care of it, at its core. If a parent’s or grandparent’s love at the origin of the pain can heal that little broken heart, it is an even deeper well of love that our Heavenly Father draws from for us. It’s no great feat, no intellectual exercise, no monumental cause. We just ask; He heals. It is so simple that it might elude the intellectually insulated. But I pray not.
It is tough to watch the tortured teems of injured folks. If they were few, there would be more chance that many of them would encounter a “whole” person with whom to share love. The danger there is that they will deplete the pure soul out of excessive neediness, which does not make for meaningful relationship. The best way is to allow the Lord to heal us even before we seek out our life partner so that we can truly enter the marriage state intact.
We cannot only experience and give unconditional love, but if our little ones should encounter even the unforeseen, unpreventable trauma of accidental or genetic injury, we are there to love them into living their lives, fully engaged. We can help them to the One who can make them whole. It is He who can insulate our hearts so that we don’t have to live in isolation.