Lonely in a Crowded Life

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.”

IMG_7594It 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 (ablogseyeview@gmail.com) 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.

Links to “Only the Lonely” Sermon Series: *
The Pain of Loneliness
The Joy of the Hiding Place
The Jewel of the Wilderness
The Hope of the Exile

*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. 

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Video

Any and All of Our Afflictions Are Meaningful

I’ve got a 15 minute break and what better way to spend it than to share some encouragement with anyone who reads my blog :). I felt a little defeated earlier this week and a friend of mine shared this song by Shane and Shane with me. The lyrics are really amazing and speak truth; not to mention they’ve coupled the song with a great excerpt from a John Piper message. He hits the nail on the head when he says that our afflictions are not only light in weight in comparison to what Christ suffered for the glory of the Lord and in light of eternity, but our afflictions are meaningful in the Lord’s eyes. I was blown away when he put into perspective that the Lord cares about any and all of our afflictions for the purposes of growing us in Him; Piper says “…all of it is totally meaningful. …every millisecond of your misery in the path of obedience is producing a peculiar glory you will get because of that. I don’t care if it was cancer or criticism. I don’t care if it was slander or sickness – it wasn’t meaningless. It’s doing something…”

Just listen and watch. It took me less than 15 minutes to share this with you and it will take you less than that to listen. It’s a necessary reminder that I need to preach to myself every single day.

Humbling Realizations & an Unusual Song Lyric

Some days, some weeks, some months, and really some years are unbelievably challenging. Just because there is something to look forward to doesn’t mean working through the here and now won’t be stretching – and at times seemingly agonizing and impossible. I’ll just come out and say it: I’ve had a rough week, but it doesn’t end in defeat and I am so thankful for that.

There have been challenges I’ve encountered since last Wednesday that I face regularly, yet somehow I am still “shocked” when they come up. You’d think us creatures of habit (humans) would at least take note of the repetitive challenges and obstacles that we face in this life, but this past week I chose naivety.

Yes, that’s correct. I said I chose it. I’m not proud of it, but praise the Lord He is forgiving and doesn’t waste anything. But instead, the Lord uses the details of our daily lives to reveal our hearts to us (and often others in our lives).

When it comes down to it my pride took a major fall this week (and really, it needed to happen). I definitely wish it would have happened in a different way because I was somewhat mortified and humiliated in many ways. But I realized that humiliation is connected to humility for a reason. This tough week has reminded me that my reaction to humiliation regarding my revealed heart before others and before the Lord is key to rebuilding.

Rebuilding strained relationships. Rebuilding my own perception of the Lord. Rebuilding motivation. Rebuilding my mind’s army against the enemy and my sinful heart.

I had an unlikely moment of reflection while listening to a Norma Jean song. If you’ve heard of this band you’re probably thinking how odd it seems that I listen to this band. I could explain how I don’t look like the typical fan of hardcore Christian music or I could share what I learned. I’ll leave my music preferences for another blog post :).

So, there I was listening to “Wrongdoers” by Norma Jean and this lyric completely took me by surprise because it was exactly what the Lord knew I needed to hear in my sinful sulking that day:

“We make love to the same mistakes and never get tired.”

WOW. Let the truth of the lyric resonate with your soul. It’s bold and it’s graphic, but it’s so true and if you’re an honest person and a believer – well you’ve experienced this very thing.

The lyrics before this line paint such an accurate picture of the moments we choose to worship ourselves and to worship our “go-to” mistakes and sinful behaviors:

“This is just a tragedy. Just another tragedy.
Feel the grave slide across my throat.
I’ll live, or die and then forget the trip, forget the war, forget the struggle.

Failure on repeat.
Drive for miles just to turn around and play it back again.
Failure on repeat.
We came for the killing. Hopeless yes we know but we don’t mind.

Blood to the bridle. Flood of red as far as we can see.
Careful not to cut yourself.
Unhand the knife drawer and please replace the moon with the sun.

I know it’s hell to hope the feeling of knowing destruction isn’t forever, take it or leave it.”

I know this to be true, but I often don’t live in this truth moment-by-moment:

I AM NOT PERFECT!

There’s a revelation, right?  Not really because I’m still going through this beautiful thing called “progressive sanctification.” So with that I’ll leave you with a few of the verses the Lord used to comfort me as He humbled me through holding up a mirror to my heart.  He brought me back to a common passage that will always provide necessary comfort and/or encouragement; whether it’s a great week or a stretching week.

Enjoy these verses from Proverbs 3:

vs. 7-8 “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.”

vs 11-12 “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.”

vs 13-14 – “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold.”

vs 21-23 – “My son, do not lose sight of these—keep sound wisdom and discretion, and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck. Then you will walk on your way securely, and your foot will not stumble.”