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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Are you struggling with loneliness?

A few months ago a friend asked me, "have you ever experienced loneliness?" Without hesitation I immediately responded, "yes". I know my response surprised her, in fact at times with five kids and a busy ministry life it even surprises me, but only in the last several years have I been able to recognize it or even understand how it creeps into my life. I have yet to meet a woman who doesn't desire "alone" time. But this wasn't what my friend was referring to. She was talking about what Harold Rupp quotes in the book, "A Woman in her Home", "loneliness is not so much a matter of isolation as of insulation." There are many circumstances in which I have found myself insulated from others.

I have felt the deep loneliness of location - often separated from family.
I have felt the loneliness of being alone - in a strange land, pressed on every side by many people.
I have felt the loneliness of wife hood - when my husband's tasks took him away, often and long.
I have felt the loneliness of motherhood - when no one understood or could lend a helping hand or just the sheer demands with young kids.
I have felt the loneliness of friendship - when the phone doesn't ring and my inbox is empty.
I have felt the loneliness of standing up for what is right - while others mocked, laughed, and looked on with pity.
I have felt the loneliness of deeply involved decisions - which no one else could solve.

At times I still experience loneliness. The hardest thing to do during intense struggles, change, disappointments, pain, weariness, all of which can take place in the day to day life of a wife, mother, employee etc. is to continually reach out to others. It is during these times that we sometimes insulate our hearts in a defensive nature assuming that we will be protected. When in actuality we are allowing the disease of loneliness to have its perfect breeding ground. One of the distinct characteristics I noticed in experiencing loneliness in my own life was my focus had slowly shifted from pleasing God to looking at myself and allowing my circumstances to dictate how I felt rather than God and His word. I needed more than ever to reach out to others, stay committed to regular church attendance (yes, I am a Pastor's wife, but you would be surprised how easily it would be to have an excuse to miss a church service or two in an effort to insulate myself from others), attend a weekly bible study, mom's fellowship group or invite someone over for coffee or tea and yet during these times I have every excuse in the world not to go, not to reach out, not to risk the possibility of feeling worse. Dee Brestin in her book, "The Friendships of Women" states,

"Intimacy is risky. No doubt about it. If I reach out to a woman to whom I am drawn, she may reject me. If I tell a woman that I love her, that I cherish her as a friend, she may respond little (or not at all). If I open my soul to another, trusting her with my dark side of failure, she may draw back in shocked silence (or she may tell others). If I love out of the overflow of my heart, promise another unfailing love until the day I die, then I have bound myself before God( and I bring upon myself His wrath if I break my vow) Risky. Risky. Risky."

It is risky, but as I shared with my friend, "Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you."
Deut. 31:6 I encouraged her to begin attending the ladies bible study in her church. I told her, "It will take courage to fight through the walls that have been built up in her heart, but God will be waiting at the door." I prayed with her and reminded her that "she is not alone!"
Today is Sunday. It is my prayer that each of you will attend or have attended a worship service wherever you are and reached out your arms to another and bring forth an encouraging word. We never know when our hands and feet will be what ministers to the heart of a lonely person. Go now, get dressed and deliver the promise that "He will never leave us or forsake us."
In Him...Chris

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Blogger Denise said...

Amen, we need to embrace one another. Share the gift of friendship with one another, nobody should be lonely.

April 29, 2007 at 4:39 AM  
Blogger Linda said...

Chris - You cannot know how much I needed to read this this morning (I promise - I went to church last night. It is the commitment to choir that sometimes gets me there when I would rather do just as you have written - isolate myself). I was going to write a post about giving up blogging. I don't know what it is. I am feeling discouraged and I suppose a bit isolated. I feel as though I don't balance it well and spend too much time at it. I begin to wonder if I am -instead of using it as ministry as I had originally hoped - just spending far too much time and not doing more "worthwhile" things.
I don't think this is making a whole lot of sense (and please feel free not to put this comment up) but I needed a word of encouragement this morning. I don't really know why my heart is so heavy. It just is.
Thank you for this.

April 29, 2007 at 10:28 AM  
Blogger Laurel Wreath said...

Chris I believe this is a big issue with womean, and I love how you talk about solutions. I know this is something I have battled with in the past. And it is true you have to fight through the walls you have built up. And that can be difficult, but rewarding.


April 29, 2007 at 11:42 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Please don't give up blogging. You are wonderful encouragement to me (and I am sure many!) I would encourage you though to also find that place that you can gather with women in the real world as well. If your church does not have a ladies bible study or other ministry in which you can gather together with other sisters in Christ, than maybe think about finding one or two other women who need fellowship and invite them over for coffee. I am sure there are some younger women who would love to visit with you and receive encouragement in their roles.

You are such a blessing!

April 29, 2007 at 9:01 PM  
Blogger Natalie Joy said...

What a great encouragement. Too often we as women will build up walls of busyness so no one will see the "real me". But, then we feel lonely and alone. It is risky to step out, reach out to others, but the reward can be so great. Thanks for these great words.

April 29, 2007 at 9:42 PM  
Anonymous Mindy said...

Thanks for this post today Chris.
It spoke directly to me!

In HIm - Mindy

April 30, 2007 at 7:15 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

You have said it well, "nobody should be lonely"

You are right this is a battle most of us face.

You have articulated my heart so well!

Glory to God! Know that you are being prayed for today.


April 30, 2007 at 10:58 AM  
Blogger Sue said...

I felt like I was reading my own words- yet put so eloquently!

Isolate or insulate, very interesting. As a ministers wife for almost 10 years, I have felt the need to insulate myself. But at times that has turned into isolation which the Lord says it is not wise to do.

Being in ministry for so many years has put me in situations that I feel the need to put walls up and protect myself and my family. But I see how satan can also use that to bring fear and lonliness.

This was just what I needed to read today...and tomorrow...and the next day.
Thank you!

April 30, 2007 at 1:33 PM  
Blogger david santos said...

Thanks for you work and have a good week

April 30, 2007 at 4:07 PM  
Blogger Cyndi said...

Chris, my dear friend, what a timely post for me. I have realized that lately I have been "insulating myself," and it started innocently enough by just trying to guard my time and schedule. A few days ago during my prayer time I realized this was what I was doing, and how I've missed out on some key friendships as a result. I believe God used this post to affirm what He has been whispering to my heart.

May 1, 2007 at 4:48 PM  
Blogger The Preacher's Wife said...

This really spoke to me because I am a natural loner. Oh I love my girlfriends but I have never been an ushy, gushy, share all my deep dark secrets kind of girl. God has really spoken to me in the past years about reaching out, being available, and letting Him minister to me through friendships...

I loved this post!!

May 4, 2007 at 9:56 AM  

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