The War with Loneliness

“The most terrible poverty is loneliness. and the feeling of being unloved.”  

Mother Teresa

     This will be a very transparent post of my heart poured into the next few words you will find here.  I have hesitated with sharing my story here with this but then thought that if for one moment someone else feels seen here by my words then it is worth the deep soul wrenching journey to share.

For a long time I have struggled with the feelings of loneliness. I have a beautiful family and I have friends that I reach out to but some how I still have felt so alone.  As I began to search my heart and explore why this has been true for the greater part of my life. I have come to realize that as a little girl these feelings began.  Many times as a child I felt locked inside myself with all these feelings and emotions with no outlets.  I felt more unsafe than I ever felt safe.  I grew up in a very dysfunctional home where people were not really invited into our home space to protect the secrets being lived out there.  I watched my beautiful mom live life completely alone besides raising us as children.  I literally watched her disconnect from the world outside of our home unless she was going to church or getting errands done. Can you imagine seeing someone in the world but totally disconnected from everything in the world.  I then felt her disconnect from us except for the care she had to give to us as a parent.  I remember reaching for her emotionally many times but she felt so very far away.  I never knew anything about her life, her childhood her hopes her dreams not even her disappointments.  I remember not being touched a lot as a child but craving it.  Inside of me,  years of feeling that level of rejection caused me to feel like it was safer to be alone.  So I began building my protective force around myself.  I decided that no one would break it down because if I allowed them in I would risk feeling the pain of my childhood again.

Loneliness is a very powerful feeling.  It isolates  you in your mind even if you are in a crowd or surrounded by those you love and that love you.  I think that one of the most important steps to helping us with loneliness is one of the hardest steps and that is acknowledging that it is truly what we are feeling. Just to clarify for you, being alone and loneliness are two different things.  Being alone is more of a physical thing but loneliness is more of a strong emotion.  Loneliness causes such a deep feeling of being alone, emptiness and being unwanted.  I long so desperately for human contact but yet feel so fearful of building that connection in relationship that lead towards it.  Loneliness to me has even felt in some ways like being abandoned.  I find such comfort in this scripture, “So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you”.  This passage reminds me that God is with me even if I am wrestling with feelings of loneliness.  It tells me clearly that he will never fail me nor will he abandon me.  I take the word of God as promises from him and his promises apply to me as well as to you.

If you are reading this and you struggle with loneliness just as I have and sometimes still do.  I am not going to try to convince you that you are not alone or that you should not feel that way.  The feelings of loneliness are real and can feel so painful but,  what I can tell you is that God sees you and he knows exactly what you are facing right now.  He knows those feelings of loneliness and the deep struggle you and I have with them.  I know how it feels to sit in a room full of people but feel like you are so alone.  I know what it feels like to long for connection and community on one hand,  but be terrified of it on the other. Does having these two things take loneliness away, NO, but they surely have been a help to me in my personal struggle with it.

Oh sweet one I know the feelings so deeply in my bones.  The war of loneliness raging within but then the beauty of Gods peace fills me over and over again reminding me of who I am and whose I am.  I pray today that in this struggle that you will know that God is with you.  I pray you will know that what you are feeling is valid and important.  I pray that you will know that you are seen and known of God.  Please don’t be ashamed nor embarrassed because you might be feeling this, I know there are times I struggle with feeling ashamed of feeling lonely.  If you are married and feeling alone please know that it doesn’t mean that you have a bad marriage, those feelings of loneliness are still just as real.  Marriage is not a cure for loneliness and being single does not necessarily mean that you have to struggle with loneliness.  I do feel that when we struggle with feelings of loneliness, we should take time to explore those feelings.  Look at where we think they are coming from?  Could they have anything to do with feelings from our childhood.  Could they in any way be connected to a deeper unmet need or even a mental health condition.  Examine those feelings, explore them and let God walk you into a place of freedom.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus the feelings of loneliness are so heavy right now.  I feel so unseen and so alone.  The pain of loneliness is eating me up from within.  I don’t understand these feelings but I know that you know me so deeply because you created me.  God please help me to walk through this place with strength and courage.  Thank  you that you are always with me.     Amen

Step Into the Safety of the Light

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”

John 1:5

 

I was in a really bad place when this thought filled my mind; ” Step into the safety of the light.’  The sadness felt like a crushing weight on my chest.  The thoughts pushed me into a corner. I felt like I was trapped in a dark corner in my mind where no one could reach me and if I be totally honest in that moment, I thought maybe Jesus could not reach me either because I was still there.

During the pandemic my hours on my job changed for a few months so that meant that when I left the house I was leaving in the early morning light  of the day.  I would leave my house without even a second thought because it was light and I could see clearly.  Recently my hours changed back to early mornings and it is still dark when I leave.  I hesitate to step into the dark of our carport to get to my car.  Even though once I step far enough under it the light comes on, it is those steps I must take in the dark to get to the light  that scare me the most.  I know I am safe but the dark brings about a level of unsafety that only the light can break.  This reminded me of the darkness that depression can bring about.  It feels sometimes as if I am stumbling around in the dark trying to feel my way into the light again.  The beauty of the light is that Jesus is the light that dismantles any level of darkness.  The darkness cannot stand in the light, it has no power over the light.  If you notice when you start to struggle the first thing we want to do is isolate and hide in the darkness of our struggles.  We would rather keep it a secret until it gets too much for us to carry alone.  Now let me say to those who might be reading this who have people you love that struggle; your response to their struggle determines if they will feel safe to share with you.  Did you know that we are not looking for answers from you, were not even looking for you to understand because oftentimes we realize that there is just no way you can but we just need you to hear us and see us.  Don’t be afraid to ask how you can love us in this place.  Don’t be afraid to ask us to tell you what we need if we can.  Sometimes we just need you to sit with us. Sometimes we just need you to let us share open, honest and raw from the place we are sitting in without your judgement. Often times those feelings unexpressed become like monsters inside of us with no safe outlet and they push us further and further into the dark corners of our own minds.

Oh beautiful one, there is so much safety in the light that is Jesus.  I know it feels so scary to trust that the light is safe when you have been living through the darkness for so long.  Sometimes you might even feel like you will never be able to feel the beauty of the light again, but you can and you will.  Sometimes that light might look like taking your medication or making a counseling session.  Sometimes that light might look like praying for the first time in a long time.  Sometimes that light might look like sharing with someone that you feel safe with how you are struggling and letting them walk alongside of you.  Whatever that light looks like to you, please know that Jesus is that light.  You are safe to step into all that he is.  He is good and he is faithful and he loves you so much.  His love is wooing you into the beauty of his light.  Step into the light beautiful one, you are seen known and loved.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus I have lived in the dark with my struggle for so long till the light scares me.  Please help me to find the courage to step into the beautiful light of who you are.  I need your help and your strength.  Please help me to trust the safety of your light.  Thank you for loving me.  Amen

 

The Storm

“He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed”

     The raging storm begins and the waves rise and fall inside. I try my best to run out of the way of the waves before they crash over my body but before I know it I am sucked under them, drowning, I can’t breathe. I am so far under the waves and I’m fighting and fighting. My arms and legs are flopping all around trying to get back on top of the water. Everything I learned about swimming seems to fade away and panic has set in. After fighting for so long to get back up on top of the water, I realize there is nothing left to do. So I let go, I stop fighting and I just let my body float. As the waves begin to seize and the water calms, I remember again how to swim and I swim  as hard as I can to the top where I can be seen where I can be rescued, where I can be bought to safety.

Maybe you can relate to this analogy. When depression rises in me, it is like a raging storm inside of my mind and body. I feel like the waves rise so quickly over me that before I can prepare they are drowning me. It feels like being dragged out to sea in a uncontrollable storm.  At times it feels as if my mind is not going to be able to withstand the storm.  The thoughts are like the crashing waves beating against me till they drag me into the deepest part of the sea. I find myself thinking of ways to end the storm to quiet the raging sea.  I just want to be at peace again in my mind.  I just want to make it to the safety of the shore again.  I know sweet one the thoughts that come so quickly that you feel like you can’t fight them.  I know the options presented to you are few and often times there is one that is put before you over and over that seems like it would end the raging storm once and for all.  It is a lie, it is not a way out. It is a way in to another level of pain for those who love you so deeply that you would leave behind.

Notice the scripture above, “He stilled the storm to a whisper, the waves of the sea were hushed”.  Jesus so desires to do that for me and for you.  He wants to quiet the storm raging within us to a whisper. Right now it might feel so loud till your struggling to think clearly.  Your thoughts feel all over the place like they are being tossed all around as the winds of life blow so strong.  Notice that the scripture says that, “the waves of the sea were hushed“.  If you are like me in those moments my soul desperately seeks for something to hush the waves of the sea.  I just need that one thing that causes me to feel safe to step back into my body again.  Maybe you need that one thing as well.  I want to suggest to you that Jesus is that one thing.  Just like he has done for me many times he desires to still the storm in your life to a whisper.  I know that he can hush the waves of the sea raging in your life right now.  Oh, beautiful one he knows your thoughts before you even think them.  He feels the pain that you can’t seem to find the words to articulate and he wants to carry you to the safety of the shore again and again if he needs to.  He wont fail you. He wont abuse your trust in him.  Let him help you through the storm, let him lead you to safety again.  You are so loved, known and seen.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, I am in a storm right now and the sea is raging against me.  I feel so weak to the waves rising up in my life.  Lord I cannot find my way back to the safety of the shore.  Please lead me.  You promised that you would never leave me nor forsake me, I need to know that you are here in this storm with me.  Don’t let the waves overtake me Jesus.  Lord Jesus please pull me through the waters that feel like they are drowning me.  You are my anchor and I will rest in you.    Amen

 

It’s A Mind Thing

Oftentimes the sadness that comes with major depressive disorder comes without and explanation…..

“You will keep in perfect peace, those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”

Isaiah 26:3

I went to sleep that night and felt like myself.  I closed my eyes and opened them with tears streaming down my face.  It seemed as if I could not fight the rush of sadness that surrounded me.  I tried to pinpoint what happened while I was sleeping to cause so much sadness.  I laid there and the tears soaked my face and the overwhelming sadness flooded me.  How do you explain to anyone this deep sadness without a explanation.  These days you cannot be sad without a legitimate reason right…. WRONG. Oftentimes the sadness that comes with major depressive disorder comes without an explanation, there is not always a trigger besides the chemicals in your brain.  You can walk me down memory lane from the pass few days before the sadness began and still come up empty handed and no reason.  It comes without warning and it can be extremely forceful.  To be honest when you pair it together with being a believer of Jesus Christ it can feel like a weight of shame. The joy of the Lord should be my strength. So, you ask yourself is it possible to have the joy of the Lord but struggle with major depressive disorder?  I believe that joy and happiness are two very different things.  I think joy comes from Jesus and it remains in all circumstances and situations but happiness is connected to this world and it changes as circumstances change.  So with that knowledge I believe that you can have the joy of the Lord and still struggle with major depressive disorder. The sadness comes from the disorder so why should I attach that to the joy that comes from Jesus. It is the joy of the Lord that keeps me fighting each day. It is the joy of the Lord that keeps me smiling when I feel crushed and broken inside.  I am not hiding but I am choosing that what is inside of me will not always control what you see.  The other thing that is inside of me is Jesus.  So, I began to understand that this war within is A Mind Thing.  The chemical imbalance is inside our brain, and our mind and brain work hand in hand.  The scripture above says that Jesus will keep in perfect peace those whose minds(thoughts) are steadfast.  If we can in that moment of the spiral down think of Jesus not a scripture(it might be too much) but just his name and paint the picture of him right there in that moment the perfect peace already within us will begin to rise up. The peace of God is within us no matter what the lies from depression tell us, the peace of God is there for us to access. Oh how he longs to give it to us when the sadness blinds us to the truth. It might be a mind thing but the more we surrender our minds to God slowly with discipline the mind thing becomes A God Thing.

 

Prayer: Lord Jesus my mind belongs to you.  My thoughts belong to you.  When the struggle with depression and anxiety overwhelm me, please help me to remember that if I stay focused on you that you will keep me in perfect peace.  Lord Jesus remind me that you are with me and I am never alone.      Amen

 

 

 

The God That See’s You

Genesis 16:13

Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me”. She also said,”Have I truly seen the One who sees me?”

How many times have you been placed in situations  where you  found yourself questioning if God could see you? Uncertain times where you were asking God, “I’m I seeing you, is this you at work right now?  It does not feel right, this can’t possibly be the God that sees me.

I think at some point in all of our lives , we have desperately searched for the confirmation that God can see us, especially during the times when it feels like our world has fallen apart right at our feet.   We just want the assurance that the one who knows every detail about our lives from beginning to the end  sees us in every situation and under every circumstance. Just like he provides for every living creature we want the assurance that he will provide for us.

Often times when I have been facing hardships in my life, I have found myself asking God if you see me, then why are you allowing this to continue in my life.  There are some seasons in our lives that we must walk through and the benefits that will come out of it are far greater than what were facing in the moment so instead God graces us with the courage and the strength to walk through it.  In Jeremiah 29:11, God says to us,”For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord,”They are plans for good and not disaster, to give you a future and a hope”. God is well aware of what you are facing but he also knows the plans he has for your life and no matter what it feels like his plans are not to harm you, his plans are to bring an offer to  you  for a future and a hope.  The beauty is that you get to choose his future and hope over what seems like a future and hope.  Even if it is only a tiny bit of hope, you must grab it and hold it with everything within you.  Allow yourself to see Gods hand on your life.  Settle the issue within yourself that he sees it all and he knows AND he is at work.  YOU might not see it, you might not feel it but God is working on your behalf.

One of my favorite scriptures that I love to read is, Psalms 23:6, “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever”. (NLT)  

Just as God sent an angel to let Haggar know that he saw her, he is allowing things to happen in your life even in the place that you are in to let you know that he sees you and you are not forgotten.  He wants you to know that his goodness and unfailing love is pursuing you all the days of your life.  Oh brave one that means that no matter what you do Gods unfailing love is in hot pursuit of you.  There is nothing too bad that you have done to stop his unfailing love.  It cannot fail, which leads me to believe that it is perfect.  Gods love is perfectly fitted for every individual person. It is true that he loves us all the same but different because our needs for love is different.  What might feel like his love to me might feel like punishment to you so his love is perfected to fit you.

I pray that this post will serve as a reminder to you that God sees you.  He has had his eye on you from the very beginning.  When you were being formed in your mother’s  womb in utter seclusion, God was watching  your unformed body.  He took every part of your life and laid it out before himself before you were created.  I can only imagine what he was saying as he was putting the pieces of your life together.  God might have been thinking all that you would need to get through this and through that and little grace here and whole lot of love here.  You are seen oh beautiful one and you are so loved.

Prayer:  Father thank you that you see us.  You see every area of our lives and you love us with an unconditional love.  There is nothing we have faced or will face that you did not see.  Remind your daughters today that they are seen and loved deeply.  Heavenly Father help us to walk in the depth of your love for us and towards others.  Lord let that love permeate every single area of our lives.  In Jesus name, Amen.