I’m playing “Name that Feeling” again. It has been over 6 months since I moved from California to Virginia. When I realize that it’s already been half of a year it’s surprising. I’ve been gone quite a chunk of time! I’ve been here long enough to call this home. Gulp. The novelty of this experience and this area has not worn off, but the truth that I’m here to stay has sunk in. And the loneliness that comes with leaving your people and investing in new people has sunk in too.
But loneliness, ironically, is not a feeling that stands in solitude. That’s why I’m playing “Name that feeling”. Imposters have been trying to keep my loneliness company.
I’m realizing now that I have to be careful with what names I allow to associate with my loneliness. Disappointment is definitely not a good companion. I have been disappointed. Disappointed with the effort it takes to stay in touch with far away friends. I’ve gotta tell you, the spirit named Disappointment has childish and selfish expectations. I need to own my loneliness rather than blame it on others. Disappointment becomes a poor excuse for wallowing in loneliness.
Another sidekick I’ve been tempted to allow to hang out with my loneliness is Unloved. Gratefully, I can quickly dismiss that fellow as a lie because the truest thing about the people that I shared life with in California is that they have loved me well. Their love deserves the dignity of being trusted. I sure do not want my friends expecting me to prove my love for them after years of loving them. But Satan likes to keep Unloved in his arsenal and poke me with it every now and then.
I knew when I moved here that I would have to face the reality of being dispensable. I knew that life would move on for my California friends and the feelings that would come from moving would be mine to experience alone.
And yet another crony that whispers in my ear is Insignificant. Insignificant likes to tie itself to the rather humbling Dispensable. As much as I fooled myself into believing that I was comfortable with dispensable being a reality of the human condition, my pride has still been hurt by it. Because, I’ve been wrongly interpreting dispensable as a verdict on whether I’ve had impact in the lives of others. The wonderful truth is that having a positive impact for Christ is present perfect. Our past has present consequences. Praise God! But geographical distance does limit us in sharing our lives. Generally, we just can’t have the same consistent impact in far away friends’ lives; nor they in ours. There are exceptional relationships; but they take exceptional and intentional effort.
There’s another dangerous champion of Loneliness. It may seem like the definition of loneliness but it is not. This deceptive fellow is named Alone. Ah, I’ve reached the crux of the matter. Loneliness naturally comes and goes and challenges us to rise up with courage and fix our eyes on Jesus. The truth is we may feel lonely but we are never alone. Like all painful feelings, loneliness can only be redeemed by the One who is Truth. Jesus will never abandon me. For in him I live and move and have my being. I am not alone. And neither are you.
Look at the gang of thugs I’ve just busted! When we’re lonely we can be attacked by imposters named Disappointment, Unloved, Insignificant, and Alone! The only way to fight these liars is with truth. I disappoint, but that doesn’t make me a disappointment. Friends disappoint me but that’s not the truest thing about them. I am not unloved. You are not unloved. I am not insignificant. You are not insignificant. We know all of this is true because our creator was not content to leave us alone! We know this to be true because of the loving lengths Jesus went to rescue us. We know it is true because of the One Jesus chose to leave to always be with us: our comforter and guide, The Holy Spirit.
If we make these truths buddies of our thought life, and choose to not associate with what is false, we’ll have the strength to do whatever it takes to triumph in seasons of loneliness.*
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39
*I’ve been lifted out of loneliness when I talk it out with Jesus, worship, choose gratitude, step out into the passions He’s given me, choose to love and serve others. (Taking unneeded naps and eating ice cream in excess haven’t proven as helpful).