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Monday, October 25, 2010

LONELINESS


All the lonely people, where do they all come from?
(Ah, look at all the lonely people)
All the lonely people, where do they all belong?
(Ah, look at all the lonely people)
~The Beatles

Have you ever been in a social setting where many people surrounded you, where you had some logical connection to them and yet you felt alone?

I know I have.

Loneliness is complicated. While an easy definition might include isolation, without companionship, etc., the fact is loneliness is probably easier to describe than to define. In addition to broken or absent relationships, I would certainly describe loneliness as a feeling of being alone, rejected, or alienated in situations where relationships are possible. And that perhaps is the worst kind of loneliness of all.

One of my daughters has a very tender heart for the elderly. I have to wonder if, on some level, she connects with them and understands them in that unique way that is hers. And I know that God could use that to His glory and for her good as well. Recently, this dear child of mine felt very much alone in a social setting. Logically speaking, she should not have felt lonely at all, as she was surrounded by familiar faces. Yet, there she was, struggling with feeling left out, alone.

As her mother, I hurt for her. Recognizing that she was overlooked, I asked her at one point if she would like her brother to join her to keep her company. I couldn't just let her be alone in a crowd, kwim? When she welcomed his company, it confirmed to me the difficult and confusing feeling she was wrestling with (loneliness) but it also revealed the love that my children have for one another. He was willing to be companion and comfort to her, and she was willing to receive him as such. A truly beautiful thing to witness between my children.

Sadly though, I couldn't help her understand why she was excluded (I should note here that many innocent dynamics were involved, including my daughter's own God-given bent, so this is not a judgement of others but rather an acknowledgement of my young daughter's struggle with something we all face in life at some point). I couldn't make it all right for her either, no matter how much my "Mama's heart" wanted to rush in and fix it. I only know that she was hurting, and therefore it deeply hurt me.

I realize my daughter is wired uniquely, which impacts the way she relates to others socially. Yet within her unique wiring, she's intensely creative, passionate about her interests, able to laugh at herself like no one else I know (love that about her), and best of all, she's fiercely loyal. She's a really great person who has already had to face more loss and brutal reality in her life than most kids her age. And while I can't elaborate on that, suffice it to say that as her mother, I know it to be true. And she's a tough cookie because of it.

So, how do I help her? How do you help a child to understand that God clearly sees her worth, knows her intimately, and loves her just as she is?
How do I help her to see that He always holds her and her tender heart clearly in His sight?
How do I make her understand that no one's validation matters more than His? I desire for her to take her worth from God and God alone.
But it's so very hard because she simply does not yet understand the greater picture as I, an older and wiser person, can.
Just as I cannot see that bigger picture of my life as our great God and Father can.
So how do I make her see and understand all these things?
It's not so easy, I can tell you that.
Again, she's just a child.

I'm trying hard to teach her that loneliness can have purpose, that it can serve to draw us closer to God, to really depend on Him to meet our needs.
I want her to know that while she may not be an extrovert at this time, she must try to remain open to the possibility of God placing a new and dear friend in her life at any time, for she has been designed by Him for relationship.
I don't want her to build walls around her heart.
If anything, I want her to learn greater compassion for others who find themselves struggling with loneliness due to death, crisis, age, being orphaned, or social hierarchy.

I pray for my daughter, that she would be able to identify her God-sent friend when the time comes, and to not prejudge who it can or cannot be. I often encourage her to focus on her own strengths as a person, and to be ready to openly share the unique and wonderful person she is with others. But doing this does not come naturally to her. She must be reminded and must work at it.
She is smart, creative, passionate, funny, and so beautiful. She is, in fact, a great human being and I'm blessed to have been chosen (twice over) to be her mother.

Most of all, she is a princess of the King. Now that's worth.

Have you ever struggled with this kind of loneliness, the kind that sets in even though you're in the midst of so many other people?
Did you deal effectively with it? If so, how?

And what steps can we all take to see our way through?
Consider the following:

  • Be in the word.
    Make time for the one who will always be there for you, who has promised to never leave you nor forsake you. Build greater intimacy with Him by regularly seeking Him and resting in His promises. Are you currently experiencing a daily quiet time in the scriptures? If not, why not?

  • Purpose to see your glass as half full, because it truly is.
    The bible says, in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
    Have you been able to avoid self-pity? It can be difficult when we feel alone, but thinking on the blessings of God, recalling them, counting them, acknowledging them, and praising Him for them can help us fix our eyes on Him whose glory "far outweighs" our loneliness.

  • Bless another.

  • Instead of sitting back and waiting for your circumstances to change, determine to bless another. Just as my daughter loves the elderly and is glad to bless them by giving them her attention, so too can we bless another. Who better to recognize loneliness than someone who has personally experienced it? And so who better to find a way to bring encouragement to someone who needs it? A handwritten note, a meal delivered, an invitation to coffee or to run an errand. See the need and then commit to meeting it.


And moms, dads, and those who stand in the gap for moms and dads, remember to hug your daughters and sons too.
Validate them with your unconditional love, a living expression of God's gracious and merciful love for them as well.
Pray for them and purpose to point them to Him, always to Him, to find their worth.
Remind them often that their God has promised, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
For in the darkest of places in this world, He was, is, and always will be there beside us.

Psalm 24:18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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