Loneliness. There are so many different layers. You can be in a crowd full of people and walk away empty, like you’re completely alone.
There’s the loneliness of feeling like you just don’t belong, no matter where you are or who you’re around.
There’s the loneliness of feeling misunderstood all of your life, wishing people could just look inside your heart for a minute and see the person you really are, the person you want to be.
The loneliness of hurting when other people hurt, crying for them, interceding, and wishing you could make their hurt go away, trying not to always fix the problem because you’re a fixer.
The loneliness in following the call God has put on your heart when it doesn’t make sense to you or anyone else. Sitting in the knowing that people think you’re crazy, yet your desire to serve God above their opinions is stronger. Obedience can be lonely.
The loneliness of walking in that calling, but fighting the battle to wonder if you have failed everyone around you, yourself, and God. Sitting in the “what ifs” desperate for answers. It’s lonely.
Lonely in thinking you’re done because you burned out, feel like you’ve lost your ability to lead others, and just want to give up on the mission God has called you to fulfill. You want to close up shop, but He shows up and says “no” in a hundred different ways. Yet the loneliness remains because naysayers want to tell you to go home and give up.
The loneliness that comes from the heartbreaking words of others you once thought were for you. Their wounds go to the core of your being and you sit in the loneliness of wondering how many others feel that way about you. You sit in the loneliness trying to remember that God’s voice is bigger than theirs. Sometimes you remember and sometimes you don’t.
You sit in the loneliness of shame because of the sins you committed yesterday. You sit in the loneliness of darkness because you think no one will understand your secrets, your addiction, your coping mechanisms. So you stay quiet and the devil laughs. Perhaps that’s the worst kind of lonely.
You sit in the loneliness of wondering if you’ll ever have the capability to lead again, or if you’ve lost it forever. You sit in the loneliness of the lies from the enemy who tells you that failure will always be where you remain. Perhaps that’s the worst kind of lonely, too.
The loneliness of walking into a room and it getting silent because you know 30 seconds before, you were the topic of conversation. And you just want to say, “I’m right here. I’m right here. Ask me what you want to know and I’ll tell you.” The loneliness of knowing as you walk out the door, the conversations will start again.
There’s the loneliness of desperately wanting to defend yourself – wanting to tell your side of the story, but knowing you can’t, because the time isn’t right. So you sit in the loneliness of the accusations and the rumors, trying to stay focused on who you are in Christ, because you remember Christ suffered through the moments of choosing not to defend himself and endured the worst kind of judgment and shame.
The loneliness of trying to remember who you are. Asking yourself how you managed to lose your identity in Christ. Trying to process when and where you lost yourself and asking Jesus to remind you, to pull you back out of the pit.
There’s the loneliness of simply not wanting to be alone anymore. The desire to have a husband – to come home to a man who wants to hear about your day, who wants to walk alongside you in your dreams, who will pray over you and love you through the baggage.
The loneliness of trying to be content in where you are, who you are, without becoming needy or clinging to others to fulfill those voids.
There’s the loneliness of growing deeper in your relationship with Christ and having Him reveal new gifts to you, but you’re scared of those gifts and aren’t sure you want them.
The loneliness of sitting in your chair, curled up, sobbing uncontrollably, just asking Jesus to hold you because you’re not sure you can make it through one more moment of loneliness. Then you slip into your bed and fall asleep clinging to the Bible, taking deep breaths and asking Abba to rock you to sleep. It’s in those moments of loneliness that you know you are not alone.
I have spent 2017 struggling through every single one of these lonely moments, days, weeks, months, seasons. And I’m going into 2018 struggling with many of them as well.
But the reassuring truth is that I’m struggling through. An action verb – “striving to achieve or attain something in the face of difficulty or resistance.”
Loneliness is a reality. Something perhaps I will always struggle with. But’s in the moments we stop struggling through that we should worry.
Feeling lonely is not a sin. It’s a truth. It’s what we do with that truth, that feeling, that determines where we land.
Where will loneliness take us? To another coping mechanism, darkness, lies, shame, isolation?
Or to the arms of Jesus, who desperately desires to walk through that loneliness with us. No. Matter. What.
Henri Nouwen writes, “You are inclined either to run away from your loneliness or to dwell in it. When you run away from it, your loneliness does not really diminish; you simply force it out of your mind temporarily. When you start dwelling in it, your feelings only become stronger, and you slip into depression.
Be patient. When you feel lonely, stay with your loneliness. Avoid the temptation to let your fearful self run off. Let it teach you its wisdom; let it tell you that you can live instead of just surviving.”
My real, raw, vulnerable thoughts as we enter 2018. May we fully know the love of Christ in the deepest parts of our loneliness, and remember this truth.
No matter what…. No matter what….
WE. ARE. DEEPLY. LOVED.