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."