Combating the isolation of summer vacation.
Although summer was normally a needed break, I always looked forward to coming back to school. I loved meeting up with friends and my fraternity brothers to catch up on what went on during our respective summer experiences.
Each person’s summer was unique. Whether it was those who traveled out of state or country, served as a camp counselor for the whole summer or worked an internship that laid the groundwork for future employment, each experience fashioned positive, purposeful and productive memories.
I found it interesting that some brothers had the best summer of their lives while others had the absolute worst. But why did this happen? Why did some guys come back to school as if summer had been a time of torture instead of a time of rest? Honestly, I don’t think it is the hard internship, boring job, lazy behaviors or tough living situation. I believe that isolation is the ultimate cause for a desolate summer.
Being isolated, alone, unaccompanied or lonely can open up many unwanted doors from wild recklessness to internal depression. In Genesis 2:18 God said it perfectly, “It is not good for man to be alone.” So what did He do? He provided a helper, a woman, to eradicate isolation and establish community.
In the same way, as sisters and brothers in Christ, we shouldn’t neglect this gift, but instead must strive to maintain community. Hebrews 10:24-25 says:
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but to encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing nearer.”
We can’t forsake what God has established for us as the body of Christ! Community is not only a blessing; it is a tool that should be used.
This is what BYX is about! Heck, our founding verse is Psalm 133:1: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!” If BYX was established to spur brotherhood and unity and cultivate Christ-like community on a consistent basis, then why do we have fellow brothers coming back from the summer feeling defeated and depressed as if they have taken steps backwards in their walk with Christ?
And I know this isn’t the summer experience for everyone. Many are growing and thriving in their respective summer break – praise the Lord for that – but I want to make us aware of those who are undergoing the opposite.
Being aware of those that might be isolated is the first thing we can do to try and maintain community this summer. When I think about awareness, I think about 1 Peter 5:7-9. Not only does it talk about being aware of our adversary and the temptations we will face as believers, but it also mentions consciousness of our fellow believers going through the same attacks.
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds of sufferings.”
Being aware of this reminds us that we aren’t alone in the fight, and this summer shouldn’t be any different. I encourage you to reach out to those who might be isolated, and don’t be afraid to ask who might need more intensive community this summer.
This leads to the second item to maintaining community this summer: take action! If someone is struggling with isolation, normally they aren’t going to reach out to their brothers and ask for help. If anyone is like me, swallowing pride and soliciting aid is tough, so we must first probe and inquire who needs extra community to establish awareness.
Then taking the second step can look different depending on the situation. It may mean physically spending time with that person. Others may need regular communication by consistently texting, calling or checking in on that person or persons. If you can’t physically hangout, or have the ability to encourage and sharpen those individuals, then insure that others are able.
Also, one of my favorite and easiest yet most impactful action steps is prayer. We should never underestimate the power of prayer! Paul exemplifies this well to the Philippians in 1:3-4 when he says:
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”
Likewise, our intercession through prayer for each other will go beyond what our consoling or conversing could do.
So why should we maintain community this summer? Answer: Because we all need it. We all fall short of the glory of God, and our human nature can naturally steer us in a direction towards isolation and sin.
Let’s become aware of those (including ourselves) who need better community this summer. Let’s take action through hangouts, encouraging and sharpening communication and prayer. Ultimately, let’s make sure that this summer is a time of rest, growth and pursuit of Jesus through the best avenue the Lord provided us: Christ-centered community.