Thursday, July 31, 2014

Where Is God In My Loneliness?

This post is also posted in the Gospel Blog by FEBC.

I know the pain of loneliness all too well. And I am well aware that I'm not the only one. Feeling lonely is a battle that all of us have to fight — for some, more often than others.

No one taught us how exactly to bounce back up again. Because of this, we beat ourselves up for not being outgoing enough/interesting enough/funny enough/[you fill in the blank] enough to keep the attention of those around us. And so we live life believing that we are always lacking, that we are never enough.

This is a dangerous mindset to have, but I'll be the first to admit that it's something I've struggled with for years. I've spent so much of my life trying to prove myself, trying to please everyone around me. Trying, and often times failing. I became a people pleaser who finally came to the realization that there was no way I could please everybody.

In high school, I knew a good amount of people. Friends would joke that "Janelle knows everyone" whenever they walked around with me on campus. The truth is, I knew a lot of people, but I never really felt known by anyone. As I tried adjusting to a new school in a new city, I felt out of place and like I didn't belong. 

God has a sense of humor though, because I first became a Christian at the very beginning of my freshman year of high school. It was over the span of those four years that I learned how to fully rely on God. It was during the lunch periods spent alone in the library or in the bathroom (sad, I know) that I learned how to pray honestly to a God who I knew heard my cries for companionship. 

It was in those years of isolation that I recognized the importance of community. I remember constantly praying for godly friends that I could both confide in and enjoy myself around. And God brought me friends throughout those seasons, but time passed and a majority of these friendships dwindled away. I felt "less than." Naturally, the feelings of inadequacy would come up again. I wondered what I was doing wrong to have so many people walk out of my life. What was it about me that made me so easy to walk away from? 

I found myself once again basing my worth in the approval of other people. This is something that I'm still trying to unlearn. God has been incredibly gracious with placing friends in my life who have remained constant and faithful throughout these past couple of years. Sometimes, it still surprises me that the prayers that I prayed for years are finally being answered.

By God's grace, I am learning that as a child of God, my worth is not defined by who I know but Who I belong to. I appreciate my friendships and relationships much more now because I know what it's like to feel all alone. But at the same time, I know that they are but a tiny reflection of the immense amount of love Christ has for me. 

Can these people still choose to leave? Absolutely. But my identity doesn't rest in who chooses to walk in and out of my life. On one hand, I'm unworthy and don't deserve the love that He lavishes upon me through others. But at the same time, I'm loved and worthy of love because Christ has declared me His daughter.

If you are feeling lonely today, I encourage you to express those feelings to a God who knows your pain and longing through and through. I pray that His love would permeate every corner of your being and comfort your weary soul. Remember that Christ is a friend to the friendless, father to the fatherless, and our ultimate source of hope.

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

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