Saturday, April 19, 2014

How God used loneliness and fear to draw me back to Him.

These last two weeks have been filled with gut check moments for me. I'm not sure why, and I wish I could turn the clock back and not go through a few of the moments I've walked, but I know I can't, and I know it's all for something.

I have to believe that it's all for something.

Loneliness and fear are two of the most powerful forces I've come to know over the years. They can be paralyzing, gut wrenching, and life manipulating. Both have encompassed much of my last 2 weeks.

I've had to look both in the eye, and I have to admit, it's still up in the air on which one of us will flinch first.

What's unusual about the two is that fear draws me to God, but loneliness seems to drive a wedge between us.

These last 6 years without a mom and also being divorced has left a gaping hole in my desire for daily interaction with someone who knows me intimately. There is something quite powerful in intimate relationships. For a person to know the secrets of your soul, the hurts of your heart, the whispers of your dreams is special, and I absolutely believe is a gift from God's gracious hands.

I didn't really appreciate it or fully understand it until it was missing.

And most days, I hate it...I curse the fact that it's missing.

I hate desiring it or needing it or wishing to the depths of my being that I had it.

But one learns to navigate through it, to live within it, to keep walking and telling God on the days it hurts, that it hurts.

And then, a moment comes when you get a taste of that sort of friendship again and you start to truly realize how much you miss intimacy.

So, your heart opens up a bit, pieces that have lain dormant for a long time begin to awaken, and your heart beats a bit differently than before.

I didn't ever think I'd let myself walk down that road again. The path I took before was not a good one. It was full of pain and disappointment and an emptiness I don't ever want to feel again.

So when I found myself in a situation, looking down a road that could lead to something, I had to decide if it was worth the risk.

My loneliness had hit an all time high where my relationship with the Lord had suffered. It had become hard for me to even open my Bible. I talked to God all the time about it...talked at Him, but I couldn't read His word. Something about loneliness made me hurt in a way I couldn't reconcile, it had started making me angry at God. I knew there was a wedge between us, and I kept telling Him about it, but it stayed there.

There were times I would just take my Bible everywhere, in and out, back and forth, lay it next to me as I slept, but only opened it on Sunday mornings.

There were other times I just opened it and laid my head in it.
I couldn't read it.
I knew it wasn't going to tell me what I wanted to hear, but I knew I wanted God, needed God, but I just couldn't bring myself to listen to Him.

I read it at school, I spoke it over others, I looked up things I needed to know for a lesson or a friend, but never for me...never for just me and Him.

So, when a moment came when there was a chance for me to choose a road that might not be so lonely, I decided to take it.

In spite of fear, in spite of anxiety, in spite of all my memories, I chose to walk it.

And the most powerful lesson in all of it is I realized I didn't really know how lonely I really was until, for a short while, I wasn't lonely.

God made us creatures of community. He made us to be people who see and listen, who feel and grieve, who engage and press on, who encourage and love.

And for years, I didn't do any of that. My heart was numb, I kept it locked up, and my community was small and my intimacy with others was very limited.

And for 5 years now, God has worked on my heart, has shown me love in more ways than I could recount or write in a year of posts. He's shown me the incredibleness of friendship and vulnerability, of transparency and depth.

He breathed life into my heart and made it pump anew.

And as hard as loneliness is, I'm grateful God has turned my heart from one that was numb, into one that feels...and feels deeply.

I'm grateful I crave intimacy, that I desire a partner in life, that I truly believe life is better with family and people, friends and loved ones, a table filled with laughter and a heart full of love.

A friend of mine met me at Starbucks last night. As we talked and caught up on our lives and she shared some hard stuff she was dealing with, she asked me what I do when I feel like I just want to quit, when I'm weary, when I feel like things aren't going to change...

I told her, all I ever know to do is to take the step in front of me; to take that next step that you know you should take.

To get up, get dressed, and go do it.

In 5th grade we memorize Philippians 3 and a good chunk of 4, and perseverance and moving on and straining forward are key pieces in that text.

In any race, there are valleys and there are mountains that one must go through and go over, and the only one who makes it to the end is the one that keeps moving, keeps going, keeps taking that one step right in front of them, no matter it be the valley or the climb. They keep going.

In my loneliness, all I knew to do tonight was to come read, spend some time in God's word, and listen to His let His truth wash over me.

Yep, I've reopened His word. I started to listen again.

As my loneliness seems to place a wedge between us, fear drives me towards Him, and 2 weeks ago, I had the rug pulled out from under me (technically, it was the treadmill) and fear entered the picture in a mighty somehow, in God's mysterious and gracious way, He used both loneliness and fear to get me back to Him.

For nearly a week now, fear has driven me back into His word. God began reminding me that I was bought with a price, that the word of the Lord endures forever, that I've tasted the kindness of God and I'm precious in His sight. He's called me out of darkness and into HIs marvelous light. That he who believes in Him will not be disappointed, that Jesus died for me, once and for all, and to cast all my anxiety on Him, because He cares for me...and all that is written within this book is the true grace of God and I shall stand firm in it.

For two weeks I've doubted, questioned, cried, and begged thinking that loneliness and fear were going to grip my life and steal it of a joy I've been able to experience for many years now...

But tonight, in the secret place spent with Him, His goodness revealed that maybe, just maybe, they were just tough climbs I needed to take to find Him again, to be reminded that in His presence loneliness and fear begin to wash away.

"And we have joy in our troubles, knowing that troubles produce perseverance, and perseverance, produces character, and character produces hope; and hope does not disappoint because the love of Christ has been poured out within our hearts." Romans 5:3-5

"So we have the prophetic attention to it as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your heart." 2 Peter 1:19

If you are lonely tonight, may you take that step closer to Him whose goodness is revealed in that secret place of His presence. (Psalm 31)

My prayers are for you.

In Him,