I’m going to be very real for a second. Probably the most honest and forthcoming that I’ve ever been on one of these posts, which is something I’m working on. I’ve dealt with what we’ll call “chronic loneliness” my entire life. But it isn’t something I’ve ever really addressed or talked with others about until this past week.
Our church held a “Restoration” seminar of sorts with guest speaker, Pete Keiper. Sunday night, I was not in that spiritual mood. I haven’t been in much of a church mood lately. Because church is about fellowship and community, and that is something I have isolated myself from. As life has gotten harder in areas, I’ve retreated, because it’s easier and much more comfortable there. Holding it all together seems a lot easier than telling people about your problems. Except for, it isn’t. It makes you feel miserable and sick. All of this is to say, I didn’t go the first night. But I knew that if I went, even to just one night, it would be life-changing. I wanted to be there, even if I didn’t feel like it.
I honestly wasn’t expecting anything major – at least not my first night of attending. I thought we’d get a good message and I’d have some things to work on, but by 8:30 or 9, I’d be on my way home to catch up on recorded shows on the DVR. WRONG. Pete talked about pain and how we all use different coping strategies. I realized that just a few of mine are: work, humor/sarcasm and perfectionism. Oh snap! We try to perfect externally what is messed up internally…Ah, that’s good. We have to pay attention to our pain and engage in what those emotions are telling us. Otherwise, we never deal with it and we just keep stuffing it down further and further. Oooh – you got me there, Pete. We have to be determined to start with the root of the problem, otherwise, he said, it’s just like cutting off the head of a dandelion. You think you’ve gotten rid of the problem, when really, they just start to grow back and soon, they’re everywhere.
He also mentioned the desert, and how it represents a painful experience. We get tired of trying to get to the Promised Land and we settle. He believes there are three reasons we wander:
Just like the womb is not the permanent place for a child to live, we are also constantly growing and life is a series of phases for us to evolve into. Every stage of life is a birthing experience. We have to be willing to be born again and again and again…. So, until Kingdom come, we shouldn’t get too comfortable in any one spot. But, the good news for us, is that God constantly uses our pain and our circumstances to revive our lives in a much bigger way, all for His glory and purpose. Pain isn’t optional, it’s a promise that we have…But, in the midst of that, we will see that God is a constant and He is ALWAYS there.
Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve always struggled with loneliness. I’ve always had a lot of friends, acquaintances and have been super involved. But, when I think about it, I’m really only known by a couple. That started surfacing and I went up for prayer after. Each night, God continued to break those chains. Normally, I’m not this open about what I’m going through – I don’t want the pity. I want God to use this crappy situation as an opportunity to let others in. The one thing people always bring up to me when they see me are the celebrities I’ve met and the places I’ve traveled to since they’ve last seen me (and that I’ve posted on Facebook). I’ve been blessed to do a lot, but on an average day, after work…I’m just lonely. I feel stuck. I’m tired and worn out and don’t feel like socializing or being with people. But, this was more than just a once or twice thing. This was a soul matter. I’ve worked more to ignore it. I fill those quiet moments with entertainment (music, Netflix, concerts and so on) and other noise, so I wouldn’t have to deal with it…Until God intervened this week and said “enough is enough.”
Tuesday//The Power of Expectations
Expectations misshapes our lives. We make it look good on the outside, but meanwhile, the inside is just crumbling away. Everyone has their own set of expectations for our lives, including ourselves.
Stress: What you feel when the external expectations exceed the internal resources to meet those expectations.
WOW. We’ve all experienced when stress and expectations go wrong with abandonment and loneliness, because we feel that we aren’t good enough or our people won’t be impressed with our performance. Guilt and shame start to set in, and there are a whole lot of shoulds that sink into our brain. Acceptance was the main reason we started, and yet, somehow we find ourselves lonely and isolated.
He used the analogy of a tour at Universal Studios. Looking from the outside, you see these beautiful sets that they can turn into just about anything they want it to. Midwest? New York City? You’ve got it. But, when you look inside, most often, you see that it’s just an empty warehouse. You see that it isn’t really a house or a store. It’s just a really good facade that does the trick in front of the camera for filming purposes. That’s how most of us have become. We look just fine on the outside, but inside, we are a mess. We build our sets accordingly, and we can’t afford to get too close – intimacy becomes a liability. We want to be loved, and yet we isolate ourselves. We don’t get to know others and they don’t get to know us. It becomes more about the law, and it should be about G R A C E. It isn’t about achieving or being perfect or how successful we can become.
He just kept hitting so many points of the season that I’ve been going through recently. I couldn’t write notes fast enough. My jaw felt like dropping the entire time, because never have I related to a message more than that one.
I was sad to see the last night roll around, but alas, it had to come. The last night was all about identity and who we are in Christ. It’s not about performance or what we DO, it’s about the seed that God has planted in each of us. The shell of us doesn’t define who we are, and we have to be willing to let God break that. The shell just restricts us, and sometimes God allows circumstances, like pain, failure, rejection, and loneliness to come in so we’ll cling to Him. He will break your confidence in anything that is found in anything that isn’t in Him. We are God’s masterpiece…THAT is who we are. It’s in those crappy circumstances and moments that God can get us back on track to the original design of who we are in Him.
With election season coming up, Pete used an campaigning analogy, and said God is saying to us, ‘why are you campaigning? you already have my vote.’ How cool is that? The creator of the universe is already on our side. We don’t have to do anything else to get Him on our side. He just is. Once we start to see ourselves as God’s masterpiece, we will also start to see the others around us that way as well.
I wish I could say that because of these nights, I’m magically cured and will never have to struggle with loneliness again or know exactly what to do to avoid the loneliness at all costs, but I know that just won’t be the case. I’ve had great moments and already moments of relapse where the darkness tries to creep in. It’s a work in progress that will continue over time. Until then, I’ll remember that God is God and I’m not – that’s really where it all begins.
That’s all for now,