As I write this, I’m finishing up day six of isolation. Almost a week ago, I woke up with a scratchy throat and slight cough. By the end of the day I had a slight fever, body aches, and chills. Twelve hours later, I tested positive for COVID.
That immediately put me into isolation. A very lonely, long isolation. For days on end I’ve had to be away from my wife, away from my 5-year-old daughter, and away from my 2-year-old son. No hugs, no kisses, no nothing. No contact. No proximity. We’ve had to talk through the door or a window, and the most interaction I’ve gotten consists of little notes and pictures slid under the door.
One masterpiece from my daughter depicted me in bed with the words: “Miya dade has crona.” I’ve never looked so Picasso-esque.
That said, considering what some have experienced my bout with the coronavirus has been fairly mild. I’m not headed for the hospital, I’m not fearing for my life, and I’m 100% confident I’m going to pull through. But that doesn’t mean I’ve been symptom free. There have been headaches, nausea, sinus pressure, a cough, fatigue, cold sweats, loss of smell and taste, and chills. And yet all of those pale in comparison to one side effect that has been the worst: the loneliness.
That’s right, the loneliness. That’s because the required isolation has been haunting. There have been days I’ve been so thankful for the early sunsets just so I can fall asleep quicker to bring an end to the day and bring me one step closer to emerging, like some hibernating bear, from my den.
While my 5-year-old can somewhat understand why we can’t have any contact, that doesn’t make it any easier. She still knocks on my door every few hours just to tell me she loves and misses me. Every once in a while she’ll even crack the door open just enough to sneak a peek.
But my 2-year-old? He is desperate for my attention. He’s craving my interaction. A couple times he has turned me into a teen at a horror movie when, without notice, he bursts open my bedroom door to get my attention and try to get me to play with him. I’ve flinched so hard a couple times I’ve thought that maybe I was able to shake the virus right out of me.
After his latest surprise, and after I had to coax him to close the door through my scratchy voice and masked lips, something really struck me. And that something has to do with love, both my love for my children and their love for me.
That “thing” is this: Love craves proximity. Love desires contact. Love commands attention. Love wants to draw near. In other words, love is best expressed when you’re together. So maybe it’s no surprise that my kids, who don’t even fully understand the word “love” yet, know that the way they express it is by being close to me. Their love for me naturally forces them to want to be in my physical space. In fact, what feels so unnatural to them during this time is that they love me and can’t be close to me.
There’s just something about love that draws us in.
As I thought about that I started thinking about God’s love and how it operates in the same way. It draws us in. It wants to be close to us. It woos us. In fact, his love for us literally looks like him sending his son to be with us to save us. He literally came to us, and he wants to be with us forever. The Bible, then, is filled with imagery about proximity. For starters, the name given to Jesus at birth, Emmanuel, translates to “God with us.” In another verse Jesus says he “stands at the door and knocks.” That’s exactly what my kids have been doing this week as they’ve been itching to see me!
I said earlier that love wants to draw near. Think about this: the Bible also says that “God is love.” So if we see that love wants to draw near, it follows that God wants to draw near. All of that has given new meaning to a verse in the Bible I’ve known for as long as I can remember. It’s in James, and it goes like this: “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”
Love — God — wants us to draw near. He beckons us. For some of you reading this, maybe that sounds a little foreign and yet at the same time it kinda makes sense. There’s a saying that there’s a God-shaped hole inside of all of us that, well, only God can fill. In other words, that longing that you feel for something greater and deeper than ourselves is found in him. It’s love.
Remember, isolation is unnatural. We were made for community, for interaction just like we were made for love. Maybe it’s time to come out of isolation and find that true love, the kind of love that comes from the author of it and the one who is, quite literally, love himself.
For more stories about finding God's love, check out our newest book, I Found Love.
Jonathon M. Seidl
Jonathon M. (Jon) Seidl is a writer, speaker, and digital media strategist. He’s the author of a forthcoming book on anxiety, OCD, and mental health that will be published in fall 2021.