So far in this series designed to look at isolation I have discussed both roses (or rather their thorns) and walls and indeed both of these could be seen as fairly obvious factors when considering isolation. But in this the fourth part of this series I want to look at something a little different – that of towers.
Born and raised in England from the 1960’s, knights in shining armor, castles, moats and towers were a common part of my childhood through television viewing, Saturday morning Cinema club, books, games and even school lessons.
In medieval England strong Towers were often built to provide security and a strong inner defense and to demonstrate strength whilst also providing the ability to see attacks coming from a distance. Additionally more temporary mobile towers were sometimes constructed in order to provide access over an enemy’s defenses. But what do ‘towers’ have to do with this series looking at isolation?
Well ‘towers’ are what I call anything (attitudes and arguments) that we put forward or construct in order to defend a position that we have taken or want to take and that we really shouldn’t have or really shouldn’t value quite so much.
For example: ‘I have mental health issues and often end up offending people so why bother investing in relationships that are only going to end when I do something stupid or weird?’ or ‘I regularly forget to take my meds so I might as well just not bother taking them at all.’ or ‘No one really understands what I am going through so it isn’t worth trying to explain it to anyone.’ And how about, ‘it is not worth my trying to achieve ‘x’ because I will only mess it up’
Now I am not trying to speak for anyone else here but I wouldn’t mind suggesting that I am not the only one who has these kind of ‘towers’ and that actually if we really take time and are brave enough to try, many of us could probably find such towers in our lives.
These ‘towers’ can be harmful and debilitating and yet the potential to adopt or construct them so very real.
Of course putting forwards arguments and justifications – no matter how fanciful or illegitimate they may be – for not doing something when we should or indeed for doing something when we shouldn’t is quite common place and whilst they may not be a good idea, it is the longer-term ones that I am more mindful of here.
Another interesting characteristic of such ‘towers’ is that they are very often over fortified.
I think there are two or three reasons for this. Isn’t it possible that we often over-value the very thing that we are defending? And likewise isn’t it possible that in response to the insecurity that we inwardly feel about the argument or position we have adopted we over-estimate the potential strength or effect of any possible attack.
And let us not forget that towers that are heavily defended or fortified are often burdensome rather than freeing and can hinder and even imprison us.
We become rooted to those towers if you will and thus everything we do can be impacted by them. Nomadic tribes do not as a rule build whacking great stone towers. They have temporary structures easily dismantled and packed away and this accommodates their transient lifestyle and there is I think a lesson to be learned from this.
If we adopt and construct whacking great towers in order to protect something our lives we are stuck to them. We have to invest in constructing them, maintaining them and securing/defending them. Isn’t it important therefore that we make sure that what we are defending or protecting is truly worth all that effort. They becomes attitudes and strongholds that shape our way of doing or not doing things.
‘No-one really understands what i am going through, so it isn’t worth trying to explain it to them.’
‘I have mental health issues and often end up offending people so why bother investing in relationships that are only going to end when I do something stupid or weird?’.
‘I regularly forget to take my meds so I might as well just not bother taking them at all.’
‘It is not worth my trying to achieve ‘x’ because I will only mess it up.’
These are not, I would suggest, arguments or positions that are either legitimate or worth protecting but sadly they are potentially present in my life and each of them do, either directly or indirectly, affect me and play into my isolation.
But they are perhaps, along with some others, arguments or positions that I have adopted and built towers around and that I neither let others challenge or readily challenge myself and that is harmful and detrimental to my mental health and obstructive to any future improvement.
I am convinced that such towers are so very harmful and that in my life there are numerous towers that need addressing and tearing down if I am ever going to heal.
And what about my faith in all this? Are there ‘towers’ in my faith-life that are not healthy?
‘It isn’t worth my getting back involved in leadership because my health won’t allow me to be reliable’
‘Letting people know that I have mental health issues as a christian is a bad witness.’
‘God can’t use someone as messed up as me’
Arguably the bible talks more of footholds and strongholds than it does about towers in this respect. As Christians we are taught that footholds afforded to the enemy can soon be converted into strongholds by them and we all know that strongholds – as the name suggests – can be very hard to pull down.
As a Christian I am very much aware that there is a spiritual consideration to everything and s very often in this blog I will make reference to emotional, physical, mental and spiritual health. I have long since been convinced that all of these can impact and affect each other either positively or negatively depending on the situation or circumstance.
I truly believe that as Christians we are subject to attack and that these attacks are often spiritual by nature. Indeed doesn’t the bible speak of this in such places as Ephesians 6, in the book of Romans and the book of Revelation?
Is it possible that some of these towers – the adopting and constructing and maintaining of them are resultant from spiritual attack or the influences of the enemy? Absolutely it is, in my opinion, but what is more relevant to me as a Christian is not so much what caused, motivated or encouraged their construction but God’s will in respect of their presence and their removal.
I have little doubt that just as there are thorns in my life that deter or that have deterred people from interacting with me and indeed walls that keep people away, there are also whacking great towers in my life that I am hiding in or behind and that need looking at, addressing and tearing down.