Waking Up

For the better part of this year, I've lived in isolation.

A large part of that is necessary for my health. If I leave my house, I can bank on returning at least a little bit sick.

By "a little bit sick," I mean I have to crawl into bed for a while, my energy is zapped, and I experience a variety of discomforts, which may include swelling, asthma, severe headache, joint and tissue pain, dizziness, loss of balance, blood pressure drops, fainting, insomnia, and/or fever.

And then, there's always the risk of returning home "very sick," which means death and I brushed shoulders along the way. I'm happy to report that hasn't happened in a while, but there's always the risk.

You see why I don't get out much.

Another part of my isolation was self-imposed. I withdrew from social media because I felt doing so was in the interests of myself and my family.

I was right.

January, February, and March leeched the life out of me. It was a difficult time for all of us, and the scant energy I had needed to go to Brandon and my kids.

My memory blocks seasons of extreme difficulty. All I remember from that time is anger, hollowness, and a weariness so deep death sounded good.

Also, God. The grappling, the crying, the fight for grateful living. Exhilarating answers to prayer. Growth. Painful, excruciating growth.

Oh! And Gilmore Girls. God bless Gilmore Girls.

The final part of the isolation was inevitable. God gave me a book to write, and guess what--you have to write in isolation. There's no other way. Without going bonkers, anyway.

Those lonely months with nothing but God, my family, my characters and their story restored my strength. Solitude was just what I needed. Funny, isn't it, how the Great Physician never gets the prescription wrong?

On July 15, I completed a typed draft of my novel. Woohoo!

I frolicked about in post-writing afterglow for a week or two. I traveled to Baton Rouge to see my friend/mentor. I watched television. I read Blake Snyder's Save the Cat!, grinning like a Cheshire cat each time I realized I had followed pro-writer advice without even knowing it. Cha-ching! I basked in having written something Mom and Brandon really liked. I took naps. 

And then I woke up. 

If you ever have the misfortune of running out of water in the middle of the desert, you will begin to feel sleepy after a time. You will sleep, and for the length of that sleep, you will feel nothing as you edge closer and closer to death. 

But when you wake, you'll experience a thirst unlike anything you can imagine. You'll be mad with it. You'll drink anything--urine, antifreeze, bleach.

Waking up to isolation was a bit like that. A bit.

For months, I slept through the pain of loneliness. To heal. To write. It was good and it was necessary and I don't regret it. 

But now...

Facebook would've been an easy fix, but I know enough of myself to realize that going to Facebook with a need like that would've been the soul equivalent to drinking antifreeze. So I waited...

In the meantime, what was I supposed to do with this desire and no clear way to quench it?

The purpose of desire, I believe, is to keep us alive and point us to God. Granted, we can warp desires into bad things when we fashion them into idols, but for the most part, God gives us desires to meet them. He's good like that, yo.

C. S. Lewis puts it like this: 

A man's physical hunger does not prove that that man will get any bread; he may die of starvation on a raft in the Atlantic. But surely a man's hunger does prove that he comes of a race which repairs its body by eating and inhabits a world where eatable substances exist. In the same way, though I do not believe (I wish I did) that my desire for Paradise proves that I shall enjoy it, I think it a pretty good indication that such a thing exists and that some men will. A man may love a woman and not win her; but it would be very odd if the phenomenon called "falling in love" occurred in a sexless world.

Thus, I conclude that if I desire community, community exists. Even for shut-ins. Even for me. And based on what I know of God and the Bible, community is good and necessary. We are built to need each other. So I don't have to worry about whether or not the desire is right.

But what does community look like for someone like me?

I don't believe God would awaken me to thirst just to let me die. I'm thirsty so I'll drink.

So the question isn't "Can I attain community?" but "How will I attain community?"

Which is something I'm figuring out as I go.