Here’s your defining moment. What do you do? Here are a few responses I had to consider:
1. Identify your triggers. What brought his visit on? Is it something you can control? For instance, are you flipping through old photos on FB? Watching a chick flick that gives you that empty romantic ache? Or maybe your mind was going down a path that it shouldn’t. Yeah, don’t tell me that we aren’t guilty of that. I’ve lived my life far too long to let you convince me otherwise. Be willing to ask yourself some difficult questions. If your trigger is one that continually depresses you and sends you into a tailspin-kick that thing to the curb. Whether it’s something you personally fanned into flame, or a circumstance out of your control, listen up, the next point is for you…
2. Change your attitude towards him. Isn’t it interesting how quickly we try to hush the ache when our loneliness is one of the more effective tools we’ve been given in our “emotions bank” to discern what’s going on in our own souls? Imagine Mr. Loneliness as a spotlight. He often exposes some of the darkest places in our hearts. Our neediness. Our steady relationship with insecurity. Our tendency to replay rejection moments like it’s a bad highlight reel (ohhhh more on that in a later post. Chord. Struck.). If he would never show up, often those emotions remain unchecked and unrealized. So stop shoving him in the closet, people. Put him to work.
3. Take time to really listen to him. Okay. Hit the jackpot. Now that we know your loneliness is an emissary-a courier of sorts-it’s time to figure out his message. Here’s how I imagined it that crisp, spring day. As I stared at the lake, felt in my chest the steady growth of that familiar ache, I realized something. Loneliness doesn’t just show us old residue from past hurts and present disappointments. He shows us a huge gaping hole that’s right in the center of our heart. Every time he pops up, he’s actually there to show us the same exact thing. We have a need. And His name is Jesus.
That day as I thought about loneliness and all it’s negative connotations, I couldn’t help but think of how it was one of the most beautiful visitors I’d had in a good long while. Reason being? He pointed me straight to my Jesus (He’s your Jesus too!). That day, my loneliness looked like a bright neon sign with an arrow pointing straight to heaven that flashed “JESUS. JESUS. You need JESUS.” I don’t know that I’ll ever get that image out of my mind. You know what happened with my loneliness after that? He quieted down. Because when Jesus is given the invitation to fill up that big gaping hole in our hearts, Mr. Loneliness starts to realize that you just may not need him anymore.
Listen, sweet friend, I do want to say this. I have lived through a very painful, consistently lonely season. I truly know what I’m asking you to test out is very difficult. The betrayal you’ve felt is real. Your wounds have cut deep. But I promise you, there is an aching sweetness to be found when you offer your injured heart up to Jesus. He cares more about it’s safekeeping than you could ever imagine. I KNOW He does.
Isaiah 41:13 contains a gem. “I…hold your right hand.” Isn’t that just about the sweetest thing? I have tears welling up just like a little schoolgirl. Those moments when you stretch and then ball your fist up… because your hands just feel empty. I want you to take a moment right now and look down at your right hand. Imagine the most beautiful, strong hand you’ve ever imagined laying palm-to-palm upon yours. Feel the weight of it. The all-consuming warmth. He then laces His fingers with yours, looks into your eyes and whispers, “Don’t be afraid. Not alone now.”