Would I be considered an introvert or an extrovert? That is the question. The answer probably depends on the beholder of my behavior and on the circumstances. I have been and can be both of these, it just depends on the day and the situation in which I find myself. But now I find myself taking on the characteristics of a hermit more and more as this covid crisis continues. Maybe you do, too, dear readers?
To be clear, the only hermit I ever knew of was the grandfather in the story “Heidi”. He lived alone up on a mountain as I recall and so both mystery and myth contributed to his mystique as a hermit. Of course, he was a hermit by choice. My hermit status is being chosen for me as a response to the presence of covid in our midst. But I must confess, as time passes, I am becoming more and more comfortable with my hermit label and my hermit lifestyle.
It doesn’t happen overnight, this transformation from involved to isolated, from connected to cut-off. Rather, it takes place incrementally. Schools are shutting down again, as are businesses and other things. We are being told not to gather with other people, especially for the upcoming holidays. The weather is getting colder and there is less daylight every day. So increasingly, there is nowhere to go and no reason to be outside. Thus a hermit is born! ( or maybe created is more accurate)
It is safer, it is easier to stay home. No chance of chance interactions to endanger one or to brighten one’s day. The hermit lifestyle may be becoming the norm, but is it normal? These are two very different things. (the norm vs. normal) Which causes me to ponder, are animals hermits or do only humans become hermits?
There are herds of buffalo, cows, elephants etc. There are schools of fish, flocks of sheep, a gaggle of geese, a pride of lions, a pack of wolves, a float of crocodiles, a pod of whales, a swarm of bees, a caravan of camels, a colony of ants, – you get the idea. Animals are born into their animal families and live out their lives as part of these animal communities. Birds, buffaloes and butterflies alike live together, migrate together and survive together. To separate from the herd (or whatever group name) would mean death. They need each other to survive.
Are we any different? God, Himself said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18) And that is when God made Eve so that Adam wouldn’t be alone. Adam wasn’t created to be a hermit living in isolation.
Neither are we. We do better in community. Psalm 68:6 tells us that –
“God sets the lonely in families, . . . ” or another translation says, “the desolate in a homeland.”
A place to belong, isn’t that what each one of us desires whether we will admit to it or not? Romans 12:5 tells us how we belong to something, really Someone, greater than ourselves which provides us with our connection to others – a connection that gives meaning and provides purpose for us in our day to day lives.
“so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” There’s that belonging that I so long for! Being a part of something bigger than just myself. We are members together of the body of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 12 it is described in this way –
“For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. . . . God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be. . . . As it is, there are many parts, but one body. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
Isn’t that the assurance that I long for? That I belong somewhere to someone? Those words above just confirmed that each one of you (I) is (am) a part of it. God really does set the lonely in families. He has adopted me into His family. Just as it is written in John 1:12,
“Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1)
My Heavenly Father knows my need for connection and belonging, my need to live for a greater purpose than myself alone. He has adopted me into His family, made me a part of His body of believers, given me a job to do within that body (remember the body doesn’t work well without each and every part participating – everyone is essential – there are no non-essential parts or members – everyone is needed – everyone has value)
God did not create me to be a hermit. He created me to be salt and to be light to His hurting world. Matthew 5:13 & 14 makes that clear when Jesus says,
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, . . . You are the light of the world. . . . let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
The world may have plans for me to become a non-essential hermit, but it would appear that my Heavenly Father has other plans for me as His child, as a part of His body of believers here on earth. He has placed me in community, connected me with all the saints, (by making them my brothers and sisters in Christ) and called me to serve in the capacity He has chosen for me.
If you are feeling isolated and lonely, dear readers, please realize that your Heavenly Father has done the same for you as well. You are essential to God. You have priceless value and your life has great purpose.
“For we are (I am/you are) God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us (for me/for you) to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)
sincerely, Grace Day