Notes from Jan

Solitary Refinement

August 8, 2020

First of all, human beings and solitary confinement are natural enemies.  We’re relational beings.  It’s a cruel punishment. When in doubt,  consider how we’ve felt with minor constrictions after just a few months. Imagine enduring years of  solitary confinement. For sure, this pandemic reminds us to pray for those who are in prison or homeless or keep solitary watch for the sake of others.

However, for most of us, we’re  confined by mandates and masks, for our good and the good of others. But I wonder, What if confinement works as refinement?  What if these hours and  months count for something more than  surviving this pandemicwhich is no small matter?

To be refined according to the dictionary is ” the process of removing impurities, unwanted elements from a substance”, like systemic racism from our country.  It’s also a process of “improvement by making small changes.” Well, there’s plenty in myself, this condo and our country that needs removing or improving.   My hair is exhibit A.

As much as I long for some aspects of life before the pandemic, I don’t want to miss today because I’m stuck in yesterday.  Nor, do I want to yellow-tape my world, or bubble-wrap myself and those I love out of fear.  That’s a dis-ease worse than Covid-19.

Sometimes I feel like Anne of Green Gables when she said, “I am well in body but considerably rumpled in spirit.” I get rumpled for probably many of the same reasons you do, like remembering the best of what was and fearing the worst of what could be.  These are understandable thoughts  but unhealthy to dwell on.  It’s a challenge and an act of faith to balance reality and hope. We need both.

Humor helps.

Try this. “I told my suitcases there will be no vacation this year.  Now I am dealing with emotional baggage.”(Thanks, Annie.)

Anyone still reading?

Back to solitary refinement. While the concept is promising,  I’m not wild about the process.   Refinement is so every day and uncomfortable.  But someone once said, “Many of the most exciting things in life are on the other side of  the uncomfortable.”

Let’s hope and act so.

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  • Reply Wendy August 8, 2020 at 10:36 am

    So good Jan! We are most definitely created to be in relationship – some like it more than others 🙂 – and it’s hard feeling like our dear friends reside on different planets right now. But also so true that God does some of His best work in and through us when we’re in His refining fire. I don’t like it one bit, but I do love the results – mainly that I end up closer to Him! Partly that’s because we have a renewed sense that He is with us through the fire, He never leaves us for a moment, and He promises to bring us through. He is faithful! I want to get out of this fire as soon as possible, but I don’t want to come out unchanged for the better. I love what you wrote: “It’s a challenge and an act of faith to balance reality and hope. We need both.”! And “Humor helps.”!!! Yes indeed! Haha, thanks for the laugh – sharing that one. Love you!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 8, 2020 at 9:51 pm

      And I love you, Wendy. Whatever we’re going through, it helps to know we’re not alone, even in solitary situations. God shows up.

  • Reply Becky Erickson August 8, 2020 at 10:46 am

    I so agree, Jan. I have been wrestling with racial inequality at this time because I have the time and that is where God has led me. I am reading the book White Awake. One of the things the author says is that we are programed to DO when what God wants from us is to SEE. Seeing, I am learning, takes time and quiet. While I am sometimes restless, I find I am moving into a quieter spirit and hopefully a more teachable one. Thank you for your columns. God uses you to bless us.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 8, 2020 at 9:54 pm

      Thank you, Becky, for reading and taking the time to respond. I’m grateful something from the blog God used to bless you.

  • Reply Dale August 8, 2020 at 12:46 pm

    Well, for an introvert, solitary confinement is actually solitude. I enjoy quiet, and now that many others around me are quiet, I actually have the chance to talk and connect with them – God brought them to me and some of my discussions with the grands have been very special. I read the book, With, and was struck by the difference between doing things for God and simply being in His presence. To be there, you have to be quiet – I am learning. 🙂

    Blessings, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 8, 2020 at 10:00 pm

      Thanks, Dale. I love imagining you with sweet and significant times with your Grands. They’re blessed to have your wise counsel and wit. I, too, take comfort from solitude. Alone times energize the introvert in me.It feeds my soul but…these months have been different for me. Some days I feel the isolation more than solitude. It’s why I have to ask God to help me turn it for good.If Jud were with me i’d view it more as a gift than a teaching time.

  • Reply Nancy Sheys August 9, 2020 at 4:46 pm

    Oh, Jan, I just love reading your clever and relatable writing. Like us all, I miss my friends and family, most especially I miss my hugs. God has created us for relationship with him and others. I’m grateful that although we’re separated (for a time) from friends and family, nothing can separate us from God. Please continue to help up “keep our heads above water” with your writing!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 10, 2020 at 5:05 pm

      Well, dear Nancy, thank you for reading and encouraging me and others with your comments. We need each other to “keep our heads above water.”

  • Reply Sammie Sullivan-Woods August 10, 2020 at 6:46 am

    Thank you so much, Jan, for your wonderful insights on Solitary Confinement as God’s Solitary Refinement! So helpful to me today, and such an eye-opener. God bless you. Out of your own struggles He brings us the encouragement and hope (and help) we long

    • Reply Jan Carlberg August 10, 2020 at 5:08 pm

      You are welcome, Sammie. We are all struggling in one way or another, some just more visibly. These times and we can work together for Good. Thank you for taking the time to read this blog and to respond. You encouraged me.

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