Not alone as in the-house-is-blissfully-empty-and-I-can-curl-up-in-front-of-the-fire-with-a-good-book alone.
I'm talking isolation from human connection.
I used to have anxiety attacks as a young child. Looking back I see them as moments of mind jarring terror when I felt disconnected from love, from humanity.
Lost on my own island of isolation it didn't matter that I bumped elbows, shared couch space and co-existed with human beings on a daily basis. I felt a galaxy of unbridgeable, frighteningly empty space separated us.
Space in which my emotions felt too big for me and too heavy to share.
And sadly, I don't think I was alone in feeling this way. I think many people feel disconnected on some level.
I think this is why people create movements of thought (or religions) that are based on the belief that people are a part of the whole (the New Age movement is a big proponent of this). Everything and everybody is interconnected.
When someone feels truly alone, they are at risk for unhealthy relationships. They crave interconnectedness no matter how damaging. Better to be with someone who blame-shifts or abuses than to not belong to anyone.
To be isolated without God is to feel despair and search for connection to something.
And yet sometimes, even with God, we struggle with living in an isolated bubble of knowledge. Knowing God loves us, knowing people love us, knowing we have "value," and yet it might as well be a million miles from us, so unreachable from the glass we look through that it feels untrue.
Believing that no one can penetrate the isolation, the concept of unconditional love is so risky, so unbelievable to actually chance.
Sometimes we have to push beyond what our emotions feel and live instead by what we know is true.
Emotions can be unstable, unreliable measures of truth, leading us to peaks of euphoria and canyons of despair, tethered to nothing but the whims of circumstance.
But if you make the choice to live by what you know to be true (sometimes you have to take that step on blind, teeth-chattering, faith)—God loves you, others love you—your feet will stay grounded in reality.
And we can choose to reach beyond the bubble and learn that we really can live outside the fear that separates us from others.