Ironically, the time in my life when I have felt the most lonely is when I was married. Living with someone who doesn't love you is probably the worst kind of lonely there is. I've been completely alone and it is not as bad as living with someone you care about and not having those feelings reciprocated.
Perhaps this is the worst kind of loneliness because it reeks of rejection. I don't know if there is any more harsh feeling than that of being rejected.
When Jesus hung on the cross and felt the eyes of His Father turn away and all of His friends had scattered to the hills, what kind of loneliness must that have been...what rejection?
But, it was Christ's experience of being completely alone that birthed the gift of communion with God for us.
Jesus had to be completely alone so that we could be ushered into the glorious presence of the Father.
Writer, Shannan Martin, beautifully shares this truth about loneliness...
"But there's a big difference in being alone and feeling forgotten or unseen."
She goes on to say,
"In recent years, I've faced this struggle more than ever before. Though fleeting, it always remembers my name. It hits in waves and leaves me gulping, flailing. I don't understand why God allows it. Shouldn't my faith be all the protection I need against this peril?
...I finally recognized the power Satan has over me in this area. I hand him this weapon and he finds it quite effective. If he can convince me I'm alone in the world, I willingly fork over a portion of my holiness, no questions asked. He fuels my pain as I lash out or become withdrawn or paranoid. He greases the wheels of vindictiveness and I ride. He double-binds me to myself - a guaranteed recipe for disaster."
Shannan's words resonate with me and sometimes I just look up at God and I say, with a sense of yearning in my voice, "God, no one here 'gets me'." There are some days on this earth, that are populated with billions of people, that I feel all alone.
I want to be understood. I want someone to care on a level that is beyond human....
How true that loneliness brings us to the edge of ourselves. I believe that He calls me to that lonely place so that there is no place else to go but to dive off the cliff and into Him.
Knowing the pain of loneliness is not necessarily a curse...it is a bridge that takes us into the lonely places in others so that we might be the hands and arms of Christ that provide comfort.
It takes pain to know pain...perhaps the pain of loneliness is a gift??
I have found, though, in my life that there have been times that God has had to remove all the comfortable people around me so that, in my loneliness, He can be my enough.
So why all this talk on loneliness right after we've celebrated the gift of Emmanuel - God with us? Often, after our mountaintop experiences, we must go back down the mountain and live in the valley.
My prayer is that I...that you...will carry the gift of Emmanuel with you as we go forward into the new year. He is always there and has promised "never to leave nor forsake you."
I also believe my feelings of loneliness serve to remind me that I am just a tramp at the manger...passing through. I gaze at the Nativity scene and I realize that baby Jesus is alive. He sees me. He knows me like no one else does and He will come back for me one day.
I know this because He promised me He would come again...
Meanwhile, my loneliness is a reminder that I am not yet home. It's an ache that won't be entirely filled here on this earth. I will not be satisfied until that one glorious day when I am in daily, in-person, communion with Him.
How about you? How are you feeling after the celebration of Emmanuel? Is there still a part of you that is lonely...that feels like the world just doesn't "get you" sometimes? If so, you're not alone.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for reminding me that "alone" doesn't exist within the bounds of your love for me. Thank you for "getting me". Help me when I want to turn to others for affirmation of You - let me turn directly to You to fill me up and be my enough. When I feel alone, let that be my signal that you are waiting in the wings wanting to draw near to me. Remind me that when I promised to "take up my cross and follow you" that there would be lonely days. Let me suffer like you have suffered rejection, Lord, so that I can reach out to others who are feeling alone. Enable me to be your hands and feet. Let my loneliness be a gift to others. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
ps. We are really in need of gifts for Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc. so that we can make a wise decision in January of 2017 if God would have us expand our school to serve more orphaned and destitute children in the Middle East - offering them an education and a life-giving transformation in knowing Christ as their Savior.
If you can, please donate by midnight Dec. 31st.