My blog topics thus far haven’t been too heavy, but today that’s not the case. The reality is that there are times in life where the air and circumstances are heavy; so much so that the weight seems unbearable. This week alone I’ve heard of some heart breaking things in the lives of people I love and in the lives of others I don’t personally know – I just want to wrap my arms around them and say:
“You’re not alone in this. Please let me walk in this mess with you.”
Loneliness. Even typing the word is somewhat depressing.
Hearing about the struggles of others has forced me to step back and take a public look at my own battle with the dreaded state of loneliness. It may come as a shock (or not) to some of you who know me, but it is true that even a “social butterfly” like me has faced depression and loneliness head-on. In fact, I still battle to keep my thoughts and actions in check all too often.
Loneliness comes in many different forms, can be brought on by seemingly insignificant situations and reveals so many different things about our hearts. For example, I’ve felt completely alone in the middle of a crowded room with loved ones and I’ve also felt lonely as a single woman who desires to be in a relationship one day. I’ve experienced this feeling in times of great success with my career and in times of great emotional turmoil and loss that’s being shared with others around me. In a sea of hugs and great times I’ve felt completely alone, and in a desert of meaningful relationships and community I’ve experienced a deep sense of being forgotten, misunderstood and/or lost.
As you can see, my relationship with feeling lonely has been exasperated in different seasons of life – yet not all of which were “bad” seasons.
Speaking of seasons, I enjoy everything about them. The delight of a new season coming in with each new weather cycle makes my heart leap with excitement. There is just something about the “new beginning” aspect of the change in seasons that motivates me to re-energize. Needless to say, I do not appreciate when some seasons “over stay their welcome” and last way too long for my liking.
Summer in SoCal does this a lot. In fact, Summer is my least favorite of all four seasons. There were times when I felt like I lived in an endless summer during my six years in California.
But even Summer has it’s purpose and pleasant associations; though for an Autumn and Winter enthusiast like me, these things are difficult to identify. It’s been the same way in my seasons of loneliness and depression. However, once that moment of realization occurs I’m overwhelmed by the beauty that can shine through even the darkest and lowest depths of despair.
“Loneliness is a wilderness, but through receiving it as a gift, accepting it from the hand of God and offering it back to him with thanksgiving, it may become a pathway to holiness, to glory and to God himself” (Elizabeth Elliot).
The beauty I’m talking about is the working of the Lord through His Spirit and His Word. In the moments of questioning, in the moments of feeling overwhelmed by isolation, and in the moments of pain the Lord hasn’t been absent – my God has been there through it all and will always be there. This is a wonderful truth and I love the feeling of the Lord wrapping His loving arms around me and saying “I’m not going anywhere.” But I’ll admit that there are moments in my walk when this fact is not as clear to me and that this statement is “easier said then realized and embraced.”
It has been in those “dry” and “desperate” times that I’ve heard the Lord the loudest through others. He always has a plan and has brought “company” across my lonely path (even if it seemed like it took forever on my time table) in His perfect timing. Sometimes these individuals don’t even know how radically their words or actions were used by the Lord, but what mattered most in those moments was the truth the Lord revealed to me about my heart before Him, about my current valley, about my current emotional state and about where He was calling me to go forward from there.
My goal in this post is to emphasize with anyone who is going through the pain of loneliness (because I’ve been there; and recently!) and also to offer some hope through the encouraging words of others on the topic. Sometimes going through this valley is a lot like driving through Kansas – it feels like it will never end! But it can end and there is a light at the end of the tunnel if you’re willing to see it.
If you take anything from my post please remember this: You are NOT alone in your loneliness. The Lord can use it and it can be a purposeful, though horribly difficult and exhausting, season of life. Don’t run from it, but by all means don’t hide from others as you face it.
“And yet all loneliness, angers, hatreds, envies, and itchings that it contains, if rolled into one single experience and put into the scale against the least moment of the joy that is felt by the least in Heaven, would have no weight that could be registered at all. Bad cannot succeed even in being bad as truly as good is good.”(C.S. Lewis)
I mean this from the bottom of my heart, if you need a friend I’ll be there. You can contact me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will answer – even if I don’t know you. That is how important it is to me that you no longer feel alone in this tricky battle.
Below I’ve included links to a sermon series (from The Village Church of course) that I found encouraging. Below that are some verses that serve as necessary reminders in the midst of a very real struggle that all humans face.
*you can get the MP3 or for you readers, they have the transcript available.
Encouraging Verses: *
I Corinthians 10:13 -14 | Psalm 119:143
Hebrews 13:5-6 | Romans 8:31-37 | Psalm 16:11
Psalm 1:1-3 | Matthew 11:28 | Psalm 46:10
Psalm 55:22 | Hebrews 2:1-18 | Philippians 4: 4-9
*These verses/passages are worth the read and I encourage you to take the time to meditate on them this week. They are only a fraction of what God’s Word has to say about loneliness.