As we continue our journey of stewarding our singleness we have established that being married is not our purpose on earth, but a gorgeous gifts steeped in symbolism, we ventured into the importance of celebration of ourselves and others, and we looked at what it means to be found hidden in the heart of Christ. Today it only made sense to venture into the world of loneliness because on the other end celebration is a sincere desire for many to find their person. Sometimes it is hard to feel connected to God or really have a desire to when we are experiencing the depths of loneliness that only a knife to the heart could showcase. In turn, the lack of relationship with Christ is reflected in the emptiness we experience within ourselves and the relationships we try to develop. The truth is it is from dust we came and it is dust we shall depart. We ultimately come and go alone. It is more than just a feeling for all of us. Loneliness is one of the most painful and dangerous realities of our existence. It has the capacity to make the most rational part of a person make poor decisions often to fill a void too painful to touch. We lower our standards, settle for people, for experiences, for the facade of success, and for acceptance from the very things that are digging our grave to addiction, destitution, and internal emptiness. No matter who walks parallel to us on our journey no one is capable of actually carrying the lonely cry inside of us. Only a relationship with God can fill this void. Only Jesus can carry the load. It is in our loneliness we must face a long suffering. The long suffering of loneliness is the reality that we must patiently endure life’s hardships with or without a person by our side and in complete trust that Christ has not abandoned us. It is the reality that even if we have a significant other there are still things within ourselves that must be attended to by us and only by us with Christ. We must always tend to our gardens, consistently examining our conscience and as I like to call it, “checking our pulse”. The “pulse check” is used to gauge and determine for ourselves what level of health our mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual barometers are currently functioning at and adjusting accordingly to a more optimal level.
Furthermore, loneliness is one of those things that the body naturally tries to avoid. I think it is why so many people are so “busy” all the time, why so many are workaholics, and why once one has experienced a relationship it is hard to not be in one. It is such a natural desire and longing to have physical touch, to feel protected, and to feel loved. It is the aching echo of our hearts crying out to God to bring us into union with a person that brings us what is pure, lovely, righteous, and good that will drive us at any cost to try to obtain that ultimate feeling of fulfillment. Yet, we get a taste of what it feels like to hide in our busyness or the arms of another and often ignore the dysfunction within ourselves. When we are in physical pain, our bodies go into fight or flight mode, that is, our bodies go through a physiological reaction in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to our survival. In other words, we retract or pull away from what is hurting us. In the same way we do this with mental, emotional, and spiritual pain. When something is too painful to think about or feel we run away or avoid thinking about it in whatever way we can to deter the experience of the pain of the memory or issue. Yet, it is often the whisper of Christ saying “Do not be afraid” and "Be still” that has taught me how to work through the times I most desire to run away from the things I must patiently endure. It is through patient endurance we refine ourselves into a pleasing vessel for Holy Spirit to inhabit us and prepares us for a life lived in holiness for Christ.
There are many ways people chose to cope with pain, and it is not for us to judge a person on how they coped in the past. Life is good, but life is often brutal, and how a person chose to survive trauma is simply that- how they chose to survive life’s hardships and trauma. The difference is once you have encountered God you learn that there are better ways and less damaging ways to ourselves and others minds, bodies, and souls if we are willing to surrender our lives to Christ. It says in Psalm 55:22 “Cast your burdens upon the Lord and He will sustain you” and this includes the casting of our fear of loneliness to Christ. He is truly the ultimate comforter. He has access to every solution to every problem because he is the solution to every problem.
While this is a complex and serious topic, I believe that there are both practical steps we can take to heal and in the process draw closer to encounters with God. Some of the practical ways we can nurture our bodies is through eating whole foods (your feelings are in your gut microbiome), you can express yourself through different types of movement and exercise, create art, and most importantly seek help from a certified therapist or support group if your loneliness has isolated you for too long. The bravest people I know are the ones who are not afraid to seek help and search out community in the midst of their emptiness. We are called to bear each others burdens as we learn in Galatians chapter six, and a healthy community will be that for us.
On the other hand, we must also use our loneliness and the subsequent pain as an opportunity to approach it as a “seeking of solitude” with Christ as opposed to being in a place of loneliness and despair. We must seek Him in the quiet of our prayer closet, worship and praise Him, and pursue Him in our reading of scripture. It is important we open ourselves up and welcome Christ into our lives. How often do we read the stories of Christ in the Bible alone especially in His most desperate moments of temptation, need for rest, and prayer. It is no coincidence that Christ modeled this to us in this way. He was sharing with us his understanding of our humanity, of our own personal valley of tears. Today, as I hear the rain trickling outside my window I wait to hear God’s voice. I can hear him ever so slightly whispering, “Come away with me my Beloved and I will speak to you of wisdom and things not of the loneliness of this world. I will teach you how to tap into my peace and guide you into a place of everlasting joy.” It is in this whisper I understood a truth I wish to share with all of you. Singleness is not a determining factor of the depth of loneliness you feel. A couple dating or a married couple can feel incredibly lonely. If you wish to feel peace and contentment in your life you must no longer view singleness as synonymous with being lonely. Instead, associate singleness as an open invitation to create healthy relationship with yourself, with God, and with others. Pursue the things in life that bring you and others joy both spiritual and non spiritual. Pursue the heart of the Father and learn of the things that bring Him joy. He wants to see you smile, he wants to turn your tears into dancing. Laugh every chance you get and build up a community of people around you that love and support you.
My prayer today for each and everyone of us, married, widowed, divorced, and single is that we would be brave enough to look to God for healthy ways to cope with our loneliness, that Christ would sustain us in our weakest moments of temptation, and draw us back into the fiery gaze of our Father. I pray that a touch of heaven would kiss your face and that you would feel the embrace of God wrap His arms around you and never let you go. For it is on eagles wings he bears you up and it is the breath of dawn that makes you shine like the sun. He will hold you in the palm of His hands and create in you a fire that never grows cold. I pray that our hearts would never harden and that He would guide our every step as we live our lives for His glory. In Jesus name. Amen.