You are not alone!

When I was nineteen, we were three. There was Shannon and Gracie and me, and we were always together. I loved them fully, and when they were with me… I was never lonely. Because I had my best friends. And I can’t remember if it was when I still lived at home, or when I joined the Air Force that we gave each other pet names. Shannon was pretty much the leader and was christened “Wise One.” Gracie, who was petite and quiet natured, became “Little One.” And me? For reasons I can’t recall, I was “Lonely One.” I had forgotten that till just this morning. Loneliness… it touched me then and it’s touched me now. And so I see, this must be a recurring pattern in my life.

I am convinced that there are no accidents or coincidences. I fully believe that we find ourselves in circumstances over and over again… until we get it. And so, rather than sweep this unwelcome feeling under the rug by filling my life with as much activity and business as I can possibly manage, I want to understand this feeling. Why should I be lonely? As I contemplate the last two blogs, it’s apparent that I am. I am once more that vulnerable young girl of nineteen… once more, I am “Lonely One.” God has brought me to a place where I am surrounded by silence. In more ways than one. I work from home, and rarely get out amongst people. And as time passes, the once frequent voices of old friends have almost completely hushed and stilled altogether. And then there’s God. I haven’t been hearing from Him lately. And so, loneliness has nestled down into my heart once more… I am utterly, “Lonely One.”

You know, I don’t think we’re made to be alone. God Himself is three in One. He is Father, and Son and Holy Spirit. He said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” And after man was created, God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is like him.” After Eve made an appearance, man said, “This one, at last, is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh; this one will be called woman, for she was taken from man.” It’s Genesis 2:24 that says “This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh.” And so, there was Adam and Eve… and God Himself chose to fellowship with them. He walked with them in the cool of the garden.. they were three.

I believe it was after I met my husband when I began to refer to myself as, “Lonely One No More.” See, we became one flesh, and for quite some time I was filled. But, as time wore on, I had bouts of loneliness. First, we moved away from family and it was just us. We did make friends at first, but when one moved turned into another, and then another… well, new friendships waned. My husband worked long hours and was away most evenings and weekends. My karaoke machine became my best friend, as I had a party for one just about every Friday night. My telephone was my other best friend because I made frequent calls to those I loved and missed. We were three, my Karaoke machine, my phone, and me.

Loneliness began to fill my soul as the years marched on. And so, today I’m surprised that I find myself here. Because I am in my homeland… surrounded by family members. I have a wonderful husband and a beautiful child. I have been blessed. And yet, “Lonely One” is etched on my heart. And this time, I want to know why.

Here is truth. In all the years that I spent away from family and loved ones, I was never, ever alone. Because what Jesus told His followers holds true today… “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17. I have the Spirit with me and in me today, just as I did all those years ago. And all those years did not have to be forlorn. They could have been magical! There could have been so many special moments for just God and me. I could have shared hours of intimate fellowship… with God. But I chose not to. And I think that’s why I find myself here today. Thus the silence. I believe God wants me to know… I do not need to be lonely. He wants me to take the truth out of my head and let it seep deep into those lonely black holes of my heart. And it’s not just me that needs to know this. For we are not alone. That means you are not alone!

I have a choice… I know when the dark times are coming. I can feel them hovering on the outer edges of my contentment. And I can do one of two things. I can invite loneliness to my pity party for one (and whether I acknowledge it or not – both God and my husband are in attendance anyway). Or, I can cancel the party. I can ignore what God is telling me, or, I can let the truth of what He says settle into my heart. See, my husband and I are one flesh. And I have the Spirit of the living God residing in me. And so, I am not alone. God, my husband, and me… we’re three. I can be “Lonely One No More” if I want to be. And you? Only you can answer that. But if you have God the Father through Jesus the Son, then the Spirit of the living God is in you, too. That makes you two, and two are better than one.

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

The Way

I’ve lost my way. Today, I can’t remember why I’m doing what I’m doing. It was just over a month ago that I was sure about blogging… about God & me. I wanted to tell the truth. The reason? Well, I felt that God wanted me to. And I felt so passionate about Him. I wanted others to know that He is right there waiting… just waiting for those to seek Him. I was passionate about God, and I couldn’t help but pour out my heart… in a blog. But, as time moved on, I got side-tracked. Too much!! I love God and His word, and so naturally, I love books about His word. And so, I became overzealous. I had (and have) too many things going on at once! I just finished Behold… The Man and the Courageous Bible study for couples. Meanwhile, I was reading/am reading The Prayer of Jabez Devotional, The 5 Love Languages of Children, Journey devotionals, Proverbs 31 devotionals, and The Resolution for Women. In addition to these spiritual helps, I recently added in Facebook, new blogs to read and a new email account. And let me not forget… the Bible. I pour through God’s word and sometimes there are so many truths jumping out at me, it’s almost too much to absorb. My Bible has so many verses underlined, and so many circles and stars and yellow post-its, that I can’t remember why I starred something to begin with. I’ve been diligent about searching God’s word… but for what?

You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. John 5:39

Yes, that’s it, I want life. I want the abundant life that Jesus promises. And because I want to live, I think adding in more spiritual helps will help. But I’ve accomplished quite the opposite. In actuality, I’ve simply become very busy, thus the abundant life has been sapped right out of me. But this is nothing new. It’s what I always do! It’s a pattern in my life. I start off beautifully, for God. But then, I interject myself and screw things up. I just can’t seem to help myself. I began blogging for God. That’s the truth. But I felt I knew just how it should go. The plan was for me to follow my old journals. I thought that as I stumbled across truths or God moments, I would blog about those. Easy, right? And so, God’s way became my way. And the fruit of my way was extra work and writing. Because I tried to stick to a format formulated by me. So much of that writing ended up in the trash folder… because I lost my way.

When I began a blog, I started off at the right place. Because I had a real and intimate relationship with God. I spent time with Him… just God & me. But as I crept closer to the edge of His glory, I started doing extra stuff. I crammed too much into the time that should have been just us. But the time with God should be simple. Because with Him, nothing else is required.

But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 11:40-42

Yes, Mary knew the truth. Mary simply sat at the feet of Jesus and heard the Word. She didn’t let anything distract her as she listened intently. Because she knew that Jesus was the one necessary thing. She knew that He was that good part that would not be taken from her. And this is what I’ve forgotten. This is how I’ve lost my way. Because I added too much in. I haven’t been able to listen closely to God, because I’ve been listening to too many other things. All good things, just too much. Recently I realized… less is more. But so quickly, I forgot this wisdom. Less is so much more, especially if that one thing is sitting at the feet of Jesus.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6

What do I want? I want God the Father. But I’ve been missing Him. I’ve crowded Him out of my life. Oh, there’s so much out there… so many helpful things. But the truth is, we need only one thing. We have God’s Word and we have His Holy Spirit. If we can remove all that’s unnecessary so that we can hear what is necessary, that one good part, then we’ll find our way. If we quiet ourselves before Him, we will remember why we do what we do.

It’s so simple… or it should be. If I can just sit still and be with Him, I will remember why I began writing in the first place. I simply need to return to that relationship with God. Yes, it’s clear. I have to go back the way I came. And all I have to do is follow Jesus, and I’ll find my way. Because He is the way.

Daddy’s Hands

1979 (or thereabouts)

The stage was set. My father was in the kitchen with all his friends. My brother and I had a new joke, and I wanted to tell it in front of everyone. I was confident of walking way with loads of laughs… confident of being successful. And so, I walked into the room and approached the easiest target. I asked, “Do you have a quarter?” I could hardly contain myself, ready as I was to deliver the punch line. My father’s friend said, “Oh, sure, sure..” and reached deep into his pocket for a quarter. But, I didn’t get to finish the joke. Daddy jumped in. He spoke sternly, and told me to never ask anyone for money. He sent me to my room, and I was humiliated. I had to walk out of that kitchen, crushed and unable to look into the eyes of anyone I passed.

As I lay in my bed, I could hear my brother pleading my case. “But Daddy, it’s a joke… she was going to say she didn’t need the quarter, that she had a nickel for a pickle.” Not too funny, huh… but to a small child, it was a knee-slapper. I laid there, crying and embarrassed, and so hurt that my Daddy yelled at me. And the worst part about it… everyone saw. Daddy came to me afterward. He hugged and kissed me, and said he was sorry. He didn’t know it was a joke. So our relationship was restored. However, the damage to my ego lingered. I didn’t want to see anyone for shame.

March 22, 2013

The stage was set. I wrote a blog that I thought was really great. I mean to tell you, Friday’s blog moved me. And so, I felt on top of the world. Friday, I left my house fully confident. I felt successful and purposeful and ready to take on the world. But things changed quickly. I went to my son’s school for an Easter egg hunt. I was there for about two hours, and by the end of the day I just had a really bad vibe. I felt like someone didn’t like me. And it bothered me. Because I’m one of those people that just has to have everyone’s approval. Yes, I’m a people-pleaser.

I left the school feeling somewhat down, and then moved on to the next chore. I had to pick up a document, but the person wasn’t very nice. In fact, he was downright rude. I sunk a little lower. At the Post Office, the person at the counter was on the phone the whole time. She took care of me, but did so while handling a personal matter. I sunk a little lower. My next chore was to drop off some of my paintings at a local shop (to be sold consignment). I had to tell the owner how much I wanted. By this time, my confidence was shaken, and I felt like crying before I even reached the door. I was embarrassed to ask for anything, because why would anyone want to pay the amount I wanted.

So what happened? The confidence I felt at 12:00 was gone by 4:00. And as the evening progressed, I had a sinking feeling that God wanted me to see something. I was pretty sure that I was being chastened because the feelings I experienced were very similar to feelings I had just over a month ago. In February, there was no doubt about it… God disciplined me. But this time, I wasn’t quite sure what I had done wrong. But the feeling persisted. And as the weekend marched on, I became more and more withdrawn. For some reason, I felt humiliated, and crushed… and unable to look into the eyes of anyone I passed.

Today 

God is my Father. His word says so… but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15. In my Bible, I have written out “Daddy” below the word “Abba.” Because that word for father is personal and intimate. If we have Jesus, we have been adopted into the family and are in fact children of God. And so, as His child, I have that privilege… I can call Him, Daddy.

And just as my Daddy corrected me so long ago, my heavenly Daddy does the same today. See, what we do reflects on our parents. I don’t think it matters what our age is. Long ago, my Daddy was mortified that I asked someone for money. He was embarrassed. Not only that, he wanted me to learn from my mistake (or what he thought was a mistake). My Daddy corrected me because of my actions, for sure, but also because he loves me. That’s what daddies do. And today is no different. My heavenly Daddy was not pleased with my behavior last week. He knew my heart. He knew I was proud. And so… He chastened me… because He loves me.

“My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the LORD loves He chastens…” Hebrews 12:5,6

We’re all individuals, and we’re all at a different place in our relationship with God. Some may know immediately when they do wrong and God corrects them. Not so with me… I find that God’s discipline is subtle. Chastening is not as easy for me to identify as when I was a little girl. See, my Daddy often used his hands when I did wrong. There was no room for misunderstanding. But God’s hands are not down here to literally spank me, so, His methods are different. For me, a spiritual spanking may take some time to figure out. This past weekend, I readily identified how I felt… lack of confidence, insecurity, shame, embarrassment… but I didn’t immediately know the reason why. And so I had to think about what precipitated those feelings. Then it became clear. My heavenly Daddy gave me a spanking, so to speak, because I was acting in an unbecoming way. My actions reflected on Him, and I needed to be corrected.

I want to close with the words of an older song called, “Daddy’s Hands,” by Holly Dunn. I first heard it at my cousin’s wedding as she danced with her Daddy. Tears flowed down my cheeks as I witnessed father and daughter moving across the floor. My uncle held her tight with his work-worn hands. I think of my own Daddy’s hands, callused from years of house painting… weathered from years in the garden. And now, I think of my other Daddy’s hands… those hands that came down in human form. I think of the hands that are scarred by nails… the ones that bled for me. I’m all grown up, but I’m still Daddy’s girl. And those are the hands that hold me tight. Daddy’s hands discipline me. But I know…there’s always love in Daddy’s hands.

“Daddy’s Hands” by Holly Dunn

I remember Daddy´s hands, working ’til they bled.
Sacrificed unselfishly, just to keep us all fed.
If I could do things over, I´d live my life again.
And never take for granted the love in Daddy´s hands.

Daddy’s hands were soft and kind when I was cryin´.
Daddy´s hands, were hard as steel when I´d done wrong.
Daddy´s hands, weren´t always gentle
But I´ve come to understand.
There was always love…
In Daddy´s hands.