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Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.

-Proverbs 18:1

Nearly every person can remember their first friend, can you? Maybe it was the first person you connected with on a heart level. Maybe it was the first person who chose to play with you on the playground or who stood up for you when others attacked. Maybe it was the first person who you shared a secret with or the first person who invited you over to their house. It’s not a coincidence we can remember these people. Relationships are part of the fundamental building blocks of what it means to be human, so friends make a deep and abiding impact on us. In Proverbs, Solomon wrote a great deal about friendship. In one of the most prolific passages in Proverbs 27:17, he wrote, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” It’s a great picture of friendship; two pieces of iron sharpening each other and both getting better because of their interaction. But, this picture also points out that friendship requires contact, and this type of contact never happens by accident. It always demands two things: intentionality and vulnerability.

However, both intentionality and vulnerability are difficult. Vulnerability puts us in the position to be hurt by another. It puts us in the place where our heart is exposed because we share the deep places of our soul – our joy and our pain. C. S. Lewis drew out the tension of vulnerability in his book The Four Loves when he wrote, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” Unfortunately, many people choose to live a life free from vulnerability. We believe that this choice prevents us from getting hurt by other people, and in large part, we’re correct. But, it also means we’re free from the love our soul needs to flourish. When we choose to cut ourselves off connection with others, we prevent both our deepest pain and our deepest joy.

The scriptures teach us to fight against the tendency we all have to isolate ourselves. In Proverbs 18:1, Solomon wrote, “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” Solomon is explaining one of the main downfalls of isolation – we retreat into our own little world and are unable to see reality. We don’t get the benefit of being challenged by others. We don’t grasp the blessing of receiving love from others. Our “judgement” is fractured because we’re disconnected from the very thing that makes us fully human – relationships with others. Take 12 minutes today and watch this excellent TED Talk that illustrates the power relationships and think about the people God has placed in your life as friends.[/vc_column_text][us_separator height=”25px” size=”custom”][vc_column_text 0=””]

By Ryan Paulson

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