I honestly can’t remember the last time I was lonely. If I had to guess, then it would be sometime before I was born again. I live a life filled with solitude, but I’m not lonely anymore. It’s strange and wonderful to even contemplate this, because I’ve known crippling loneliness in my life. But it’s just gone now. I once wondered how it was possible to have the primary relationship in life be with God. How could that be fulfilling? How was that even possible in the practical? Yet here I am – no husband, no children, no BFF – and not only am I not lonely, I am actually quite content. How in the world did that happen?!
Hello Love, Good-bye Lonely
‘And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.
Mark 12:30 NKJV
I didn’t even know how to obey this first commandment a few years ago. I chose it, committed to it, and prayed that He would give me a heart big enough to love Him that completely and exclusively. I’m sure I have a ways to go, but He is absolutely doing a work in my heart on this score. If He wasn’t, then I wouldn’t be anchored in Him the way that I am. And loneliness would still be my steady companion.
Instead I find that the closer I get to Jesus, the easier it is to be not just content in my solitude, but quietly joyful. And it’s easier to deal with people, too. The more I look to Jesus as my sole Source, the less I look to others to meet my needs. After all, it isn’t comfortable to spend time with people when you’re deeply in need of them. It’s nerve-wracking and scary and exhausting.
Lonely Seeking Love
I remember when I first came to work for Shulamite Ministries. There was such an easy camaraderie in the Body, an effortless intimacy that brought to mind a family without all the painful baggage. I thought that it was the result of everyone having known each other for at least a decade, and sometimes I despaired that there could ever be room for me when I would perpetually be a newbie in such an established group. But I was seeing relationships as the world sees them: Effort x Affection + Time = Intimacy.
I believed that the easy companionship of the church was born of conventional means, and I’m so happy to report that I was very wrong. The effortless unity had nothing to do with years of friendship, generational commonalities, similar likes and dislikes, or any of the other myriad ways that we usually form relationships with each other. This was entirely the work of the Spirit.
What I see very clearly right now, however, is the centrality of my individual relationship with Jesus, and its effect on my unity with other people in the Body of Christ. When my primary relationship is intact, then there is no hindrance to the flow of the Holy Spirit. If I’m wrestling with the Lord and resisting Him, the Spirit is hindered. And if I’m out of the Spirit entirely, then just forget it.
The unity that I witnessed for years – and now experience firsthand – was born entirely out of each person’s First Love. When Jesus is first, strife born of misplaced need, expectation and obligation is eradicated. I am free to love and be loved without difficulty. It’s the most amazing real-time miracle ever!
Truly Lonely No More
I don’t think it’s coincidence that the deeper my relationship with the Lord, the truer and more effortless my relationship with others in the Body, and the more difficult it is to remember what it is to be lonely. I’m no longer alone, and I’m being trained and disciplined to take my need to the only One who wants it and can meet it. I am so encouraged by this!
And if you’re a lonely person, I want to encourage you to keep choosing to love God above all others, talk to Him honestly about everything, and turn to Him again and again until it becomes the most natural thing in the world. He’s very real, He’s very present, and He’s so much more than just ‘enough.’ He’s everything.
Thou wilt show me the path of life; in Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
Psalm 16:11 KJ21