Ever felt alone? That’s a dumb question. Probably everyone understands the feeling of loneliness. At some point in all our lives, we have felt alone. It is difficult to grasp how it is possible to be surrounded by a crowd of people and still feel alone. I have been wrestling with this emotion of loneliness; this overwhelming silence and solitude. Since moving to a new place and not living in a college (aka people-concentrated) environment, I have spent more time alone than I have in a very long time. I am by nature an extrovert who is energized by spending time with people, so needless to say this has not been an easy season thus far.
I do not think it is by chance that the classes I am taking so heavily emphasize the idea of silence and solitude with God. For several of my classes we are required to go on spiritual retreats – being absolutely alone with God, without any distractions, noises, books, even a Bible. We are also supposed to practice Lectio Divina in the morning. This is the process of prayerfully reading Scripture and meditating on it, waiting and asking for God to speak through it. And for the end of the day there is the Examen prayer, where one thanks God for the blessings of the day, the times when we were aware of Him, and then asks Him for guidance and the ability to see the ways in which we were not aware of Him and the things we could have done differently. All of these practices emphasize simply being with God.
God truly has reasons for everything, and as He says in Ecclesiastes 3, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…” This season for me is making the most of that quiet time that I get to spend with the Lord. He is giving me so many opportunities to quietly seek His guidance, listen to His voice, and share my thoughts with Him. There may not be many times in my life where I am blessed with this much solitude.
So, I’m happy about this amazing amount of alone time.
No. That’s a bold faced lie; I don’t like being alone, I don’t like feeling like I don’t know anyone or don’t have tons of friends. That is not the life that I want to lead – I have always been surrounded by people (such is life, in a college dorm!) and find my value and identity in those relationships.
Oops, I let it slip. The confession. I find my value and identity in those relationships. This is not who God called me to be! That is not how He desires for any of us to live. I realize over and over again, no matter how much people like me, no matter how many friends I make, those relationships will never fulfill or affirm me. It is a constant searching for more – more affirmations, more phone calls, more coffee dates. God is showing me each and every day that the only way to find true freedom and fulfillment is through relationship with Him.
Since being here, I have often questioned my own confidence. Feelings of jealousy, insecurity, and pride show up and suddenly I look at myself in the mirror and see a girl who doesn’t know herself, doesn’t love herself, and doesn’t understand how anyone else could either. Where does this come from? I thought I was 22 and over that insecure stage of life? It comes from living a life where God is a part, but not the whole. When He is an important piece of the puzzle but not the completed picture. Confidence comes when we fully comprehend and finally accept that we are made in the image of God, and truly, fully loved by Him. Our confidence cannot come from any other source.
So all this loneliness, sometimes it just creeps over me and makes me want to pull the covers over my head and hide from the world. A friend asked me the other day, “Ever have those days where you just wake up and feel like a cartoon character with a cloud above your head? Even when it’s sunny outside?” Yes. In fact, that happened just the other day. I woke up overwhelmed by this sense of being alone. I wasted time watching TV, surfing the Internet, until it couldn’t handle it any more so I finally reached for my lifeline. I read Matthew 11:28-30 where Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” I let my shoulders relax and I begged God, “Let me feel loved. Help me believe that I am a daughter of the King.” Have you ever had that experience where you pray exactly what you yourself needed to hear? It is like God puts words in our mouths because He knows the only way we will hear something is if we ourselves say it. What I mean by this is by using the phrase “Daughter of the King”, I remembered this devotional book I have called His Princess, Love Letters From Your King (sounds cheesy, but I love it). I saw it on my bookshelf and grabbed it, opening it to the page that I had bookmarked a while ago. The title said this, “My Princess, You are Never Alone.” My eyes instantly flooded with tears and I laughed out loud to God – wow! I continued reading…
“You never need to hold onto anyone out of fear of being alone, my precious princess. I am with you wherever you are. I am the friend who walks in when the world walks out. I created you to have strong relationships, my love, and I see your desire to be close to someone. If you will seek me first and come to me with your wants and needs, I will choose your friends for you. I also will bless those friendships abundantly. Don’t settle for less than My best just to fill your schedule with people to see and places to go. I want to reach you with the reality of My Presence in you first, and then you will be ready for real relationships that are orchestrated by Me.”
Again – wow! I don’t think there could have been a better thing for me to hear if I had written it myself. It was such a beautiful example of how God will comfort and encourage us when we give Him our time. I was able to go on with confidence knowing that God has designated this season as a time of quiet, a time of being alone, but not lonely – because the God of the universe is always with me. It is time for me to get to know this God and who I am in Him. To stop looking to other people for approval and worth, but to find that confidence in who He has made me. In the amazing devotional Jesus Calling, He gives the reminder that we often, “drop the glowing gift of My Presence as you reach for lifeless ashes.”
If you haven’t heard the song “Remind Me Who I Am” by Jason Gray, well, I’ll attach it so you can. (: I’ve heard this song on the radio over and over since I’ve been here and the words are just starting to soak in for me. The chorus says, “Tell me, once again who I am to You, who I am to You. Tell me, lest I forget, who I am to You, I belong to You.” Another line in the song resonated deeply in my heart when I finally let myself hear it – “If I’m your beloved, can you help me believe it?” This is my prayer, that I would begin to understand who I am – Beloved. I hope that you all understand that you are Beloved, saved by grace, FREE in Christ. I think that once I truly accept and understand this concept, I will find so much JOY and FREEDOM.
“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is FREEDOM.”
Blessings, friends. (: