Tag Archives: privacy

Personal space


by Michael E. Brooks

“When Jesus heard it, he departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it they followed him by foot from the cities” (Matthew 14:13 NKJV).

It is no secret that cultures in Asia and America are vastly different. I am often asked, “What is the greatest cultural shock which you have encountered?” My usual answer is, “The lack of privacy.”

Bangladesh is one of, if not the, most densely populated nation on earth. It’s land area is about the same as that of the state of Iowa. In that limited space lives 165,000,000 people — approximately half the population of the United states. There is literally nowhere one may go that is without people.

And consequently there is no concept of “personal space.” Everything is done in view of others.

Americans are relatively scarce in Bangladesh, therefore we stand out in any crowd or context. The people have great curiosity about us, and no shyness or reluctance when it comes to staring or pointing.

Have you ever sat alone in a car with 50 to 100 people crowded around you, touching the windows and sides of the car, staring at you for 20 or 30 minutes? It is an experience one would not normally have in the U.S. This is merely one of many such instances, all of which cause considerable uneasiness to one unaccustomed to them.

Most of us have a need for privacy, at least occasionally. Even Jesus sometimes sought solitude, either to teach small groups, or to meditate and pray. This in no way contradicted his earthly mission, “to seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

Sometimes the desire for privacy may stem from less than pure motives. In these instances, secrecy is the true goal. But not all who seek to be alone do so for the sake of wrongdoing.

The psalmist records the words of God exhorting mankind, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Though stillness and solitude are not synonymous, it is difficult to meditate deeply when in the company of others.

Just as Jesus drew apart to pray (Mark 6:46), so we find a special opportunity for communion with God when alone.

Though few of us desire to be always in the midst of a large crowd of strangers, it is nevertheless true that total solitude is also uncomfortable, at least for very long.

Most humans want some degree of companionship, most of the time. The occasional hermit is recognized as abnormal, socially unbalanced.

But those with a genuine relationship with God realize that they are never truly alone. The company of other humans may be denied them for a time, but there is always One who is with them.

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

Having just enough, but not too much, company is a delicate balance, hard if not impossible to always achieve. But reliance upon God to protect us from the crowd while always providing fellowship is the correct solution.

“If God is for us, who can be against us” (Romans 8:31).

The Secret Garden

by Richard Mansel, managing editor

Thomas and Rachel were exhausted from the day. Returning home brought no relief. School projects, dining, laundry, baths and arguments robbed the evening of its vigor. They needed respite from the chaos and a safe place in which to heal.

With the kids in bed, the doors secured, they fall into each other’s arms. The pressures on them lift, and the clouds part. The remains of the day wash over them and they become one in spirit and prayer as they offer their thanks to the Father.

Every marriage must have a place of peace and solitude, one that is completely their own. A garden of inexplicable beauty, where their hearts can soar and their hands can labor. Their own universe where they can escape and become young again, playing and exploring like children.

This secret garden is where their one-flesh bond grows stronger and more resilient. God placed us in marriage to be a new creation (Genesis 2:18-25). Bound together in God and in flesh, we have a bond like nothing else in existence.

We must make our one-flesh heart a walled secret garden that no one else can enter. We protect our garden, at all costs. Our hands keep the weeds away and we nurture the flowers and plants. We maintain and secure the garden like a fortress, protecting everything within.

We should not allow our children, computers or televisions to steal our time together.

Our secret garden is ours alone. We do not share our secret thoughts and dreams. Our words remain there to echo off the rock walls, rather than in the hearts and ears of the world.

We protect our spouse and remember that their privacy remains locked within the wall. We would never betray them and the secret garden. We must find time and stubbornly hold to it, so we can tend to our garden and keep it fresh and healthy. Whether this is in the form of dates or getaways, gardens need maintenance.

The Word of God becomes our manual (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and the Savior, the centerpiece of our garden (Matthew 11:29-30). He sustains it with his light and his blood courses through the walls, protecting us from harm (John 8:12; 1 John 1:7).

Is our garden healthy or broken down from neglect? If it is the latter, please start work today and save it from demolition! God gave us a present. Why would we throw it away?