I am lonely.
It feels almost wrong somehow to confess this. I wrestle with my feelings of loneliness in the wake of people telling me “You have Jesus! How could you be lonely?”
I pray over my loneliness. I do not run from it. I no longer set it upon a shelf and stare at it, wishing it could be something else. Instead, I grapple with it. Take it inside my hands and speak life into it. There’s three ways I could deal with it and I am daily presented a choice of how to respond.
- Pretend it doesn’t exist. Here, I coax myself into believing I am not lonely because yes, I have Jesus! Amen, hallelujah, he’s my satisfaction! While pretending to adhere to truth I ignore what hurts.
- Try to get rid of it. I acknowledge it’s real this time and I convince myself that if only things were different in my life, it would get better. If I could change some things, put myself out there, tried a little harder–maybe life would be different and loneliness would be gone… As if this deep, internal ache is some circumstantial thing.
- See it for it is: a sacred space where a very real Jesus meets a very real need.
The third option is perhaps the scariest, but it is the most necessary for healing. I realize this path is not just good for loneliness, but literally every possible thing we as humans face inside this big and hurtful world. Whether it be fear or courage, weakness or strength, sadness or joy–they are all gentle invitations to see Jesus move in our lives.
So I acknowledge need:
I am lonely.
But I profess truth:
I am loved.
They do not cancel each other out and they are both necessary for growth. When we profess truth without acknowledging the need, we diminish the power of truth. What is it changing? How powerful is it against lies? We don’t know, because we won’t let ourselves go there. We will never know the brightness of the light until we’ve fully encountered the darkness.
When we acknowledge need without professing truth, we are stunting growth by focusing on all the reasons we shouldn’t move forward. We mourn our weakness without ever giving God room to show up strong on our behalf; or, most accurately, we are so focused on our weakness we fail to see how God has already shown up strong on our behalf.
Today, I take my loneliness from its hallowed shelf of discontent and I hold it my hands and I pray into it. Why is it here? What is it showing me? Although it is the most uncomfortable, I sit with it. And I speak love.
I wrestle on this weary, narrow road. I look at my desires, my deepest longings and I see they do not match what the world tells me 23-year-old women should be desiring. My vision and heart for my life is altogether different that what is presented in society and I am lonely. I keep my eyes glancing over at a path that’s well-worn, well-praised, and well-advertised. It is enticing. Yet, my heart’s truest desire keeps me here, on this narrow and rocky path.
How do I walk the narrow road and will I ever find someone to walk it with me? I want to the way of Jesus. Eyes on him. Walking a lonely journey, praying for strength to choose Jesus over things of the world–no wonder there is tension. No wonder my feet are hurting.
Our broken world is selfish, wanting self-satisfaction and entertainment and happiness. I’ve tried it and found myself empty. It is only when I give that I am full. I am my most fulfilled when I am serving and caring for others.
Jesus, I am lonely and yet I am loved. Keep my feet steadily on. In this world increasingly hostile to your heart and those who love it, keep my eyes on you.
Though I am lonely, I am hopeful.