Being alone stinks.
Anyone who has had to be alone can attest that my choice of the adjective “stinks” is a grave understatement… but you get the idea.
There’s something about being alone that is unsettling even for the most stable of us human beings.
When we are alone, the parts that are still to be healed, loved, and resurrected are undeniable. Whereas, when we are surrounded by people and busied with our many activities, it is all too easy to suppress our deficiency.
Because of this, most of us just avoid being alone in the first place.
We seek out people at every turn. If we are introverts or have trouble connecting, we seek out activities that we believe will foster connection. This only exacerbates our troubles as we replace organic relationship with forced homogeneity that comes about only by claiming allegiance to the same football team.
Those of us who do this are typically the most afraid of being alone.
Making an activity the primary source of our enjoyment rather than the people we engage with, helps us skirt around the pain that inevitably follows when a person hurts us.
And they always do.
With priority set on the thing that fosters community rather than the people (who are the life of community), we can go about our activity as though nothing ever happened, simply finding other people to do said activity with, when we are hurt.
This is what is happening when people “church-hop”.
I used to do this type of thing all the time. The activity was drinking. The activity was dancing. The activity was going shopping. The activity was even sex at one point.
All of these things became crutches in my life instead of things that I could enjoy in a healthy way while building relationship.
My activities were a replacement for authentic human interaction.
I suppose one could not blame me, given all the trauma I had experienced. However, I choose to take a higher road and evaluate where I may have been in sin.
Doing so has helped me to uncover:
1) The selfishness that lay beneath my desire to avoid loneliness, and
2) The toxic actions I carried out in attempt to accomplish this impossible feat.
My selfishness was the driving factor for manipulating people into staying around me, while simultaneously being the the very thing that hindered my ability to connect with them!
Some would say this is narcissistic behavior. Perhaps if I had been tested during that time of my life I might have flagged as mentally unhealthy and, in fact, narcissistic.
All I can say is that I have recovered and then share my reflections…
I am grateful to have learned the importance and the art of being alone.
No longer do I react to my emotions, which still encourage me to fill quite time with things rather than introspection and theological reflection that enhances my relationship with my Father.
No longer do I view lack of activity as inherently “boring.”
Rather, I embrace a simpler lifestyle. I have found that all my needs have already been met in Christ.
This quiet time “alone” has proven to be a gateway into a place where I know I am never alone. A divine paradox that I treasure more than any other moment. A place where I can just be with my God.
It is, after all, this connection that gives life to every other relationship.
Each human connection I steward is precious to me, but I am first and foremost a disciple of Jesus… and my Savior has a peculiar, yet perfect, way of dealing with His disciples.
Jesus spoke many things to the public.
Many good things…
He told stories that revealed the incredible power of our Father and His divine kingdom.
He told tales of people who honor the Lord, giving everything they have… like the woman who had but a fraction of a penny yet gave it to offering at the temple, nevertheless.
But these things are not explained so openly.
It is when Jesus is alone with His disciples that He explains all these things to them.
I could learn the entire Bible inside out.
I could have every story memorized. I could have every chapter and verse roll off the tip of my tongue and possess a superior command of Scripture…
Still, none of this matters unless I am able to sit “alone” in the presence of God and hear Him by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
This coming weekend, I will begin a 21 day journey of fasting and prayer, corporately with my church. I so look forward to this time with my Lord!
I would like to invite all of you join me in this fast, as you are able.
You will never find anything so fulfilling than the realization that all you need is God Himself.
That He is not only the Provider, but the Provision!
Fasting draws us deeper into this truth.
God is always capable of meeting you where YOU are. He did that very thing when He went to the cross and died for our sins as Jesus Christ. But during a fast, we are able to reach out and draw closer to where HE is.
God needs nothing but Himself to exist.
As we relinquish things we rely on for comfort and even sustenance, we move into divine territory.
We express our deepest desire to know and be known by God. We put our words of faith into action and proclaim that He IS all we need.
Will you consider doing this with me? I promise it will change your life. It has for me! Fasting and prayer is the very thing I was doing when I received the unshakable faith I have now.
Whatever you decide for how you connect this year, I pray you have been blessed by my reflections and that 2018 is a year of joyful communion for you; with God and with each other.
Be well my friends.