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

Who I Am

I’m a people-watcher. When we go out, I love to observe people… how they act, what they say and the expressions that play across their faces. And to be truthful, I sometimes eavesdrop. I can’t help it… If I’m in the grocery store and someone is talking on their cell phone within my vicinity, I’m going to listen. Because that’s what my ears are made for… hearing what people say. It was Thursday, though, that I felt pretty upset by my people observation skills. Because within the span of a couple of hours, I received more ugly looks than I can count. Oh, for various reasons, which lead me to believe that I must be the worst driver in history. One man looked at me so angrily, he even shook his head in a curt way, as if I were going to plow right over top of him and his two daughters. This happened as I was pulling away from a drive-through window and I can assure you I was not going to run him over. I stopped as soon as I saw him, which was at least 10 or 15 feet away. At any rate, my feelings were hurt. And the look I received didn’t produce any loving vibes toward the man. In fact, I felt quite the opposite… I felt attacked and that the situation (or the ugly look) was uncalled for. At any rate, I’m getting off track here.

The point is, I love to watch people. Especially teenage girls. I think this is probably because I was uncomfortable in my own skin growing up. When I was young, I always wanted to be somebody else because I was not happy with who I was. And I wonder about the young girls I see today. I wonder if they’re comfortable in their own skin, or if they want to be somebody else, too. I would venture to say, it’s the latter. Because what I notice about packs of young girls, is that they look the same. They wear their hair in a similar fashion, their clothing could be interchangeable, and they talk alike. They usually prefer the same music and have the same affectations. Basically, they prove the saying, “You are who your friends are.” And I believe that saying to be very true. I think you do become like who you spend the most time with. Because I lived it out for most of my formative years. When I was in my early twenties, a person pointed out to me that I was like a chameleon, changing my personality to fit who I was with. At the time, I felt anger at the observation, but now that I’m older I see that it’s true. And even now, I find a residual trace of longing within me. See, I want to be liked. By everyone. And so, I may feel out the crowd, and may or may not say something, depending on who I’m with. And so this behavior begs the question, “Am I still uncomfortable in my own skin?”

You know, the Bible is filled with conversations between God and His people. I can scan the pages of Scripture and eavesdrop on conversations that took place long ago, and not even feel bad for doing it (unlike recently, when my ears perked up at a restaurant as I listened to the four women behind me). And I think that in doing this… searching God’s word, that is… I will come to feel comfortable in my own skin. I think the more I listen in on conversations of old, the more I will find out about who I am today. Because what God had to say to His people, and what He felt for them so long ago, hasn’t changed… because He is the same. And so, through a conversation that took place between God and Moses, I learn a lot about God… and a lot about me. It’s through their banter that I find out just who I am to God. This is what I overheard:

The LORD spoke to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. And Moses pleaded with God, “Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight.” God answered, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. For you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.” Moses went a step further… he asked that God please show him His glory. And God allowed it. God said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock and so it shall be that while My glory passes by that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with My hand…” And so, Moses rose early in the morning to meet with God on Mount Sinai. God descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and He proclaimed to Moses His very nature. (Exodus 33)

God spoke to Moses. He stood with Moses and revealed things about His nature to him. Because they were friends. God said, “I speak with him face to face, even plainly, and not in dark sayings; and he sees the form of the LORD.” Numbers 12:8. See, Moses spent time with God. He had a real relationship with Him, and took the the time to know God and what He cared about. And what was important to God became important to Moses. And isn’t that how it is for us today… with those that we have intimate relationships with? Don’t we spend time with our friends, talking to them and listening to what they have to say? Don’t we care about what they do? And so, from this conversation between two friends, God and Moses, I see this is exactly what He wants from us today… our friendship. In addition to everything else that He is to us, He wants to be our friend. And it’s here in this truth that I can become comfortable in my own skin. It’s here that I can find my identity.

You know, I feel for the young girls I see today. Because I remember. I know how hard it is growing up, and wanting to be liked by everyone. I know what it’s like to run after everything or everyone searching for an identity. Because that’s what I did for so very long. I just didn’t like who I was. Even today, there are things I wish I could change. But you know, I have a good Friend and He has my back… He has me covered. He loves me and cares about what I do, and He knows me by name. It’s in God that I find my true identity. And if I ever forget… if I begin to feel insecure and that I don’t measure up, He will comfort me. He will remind me of just who I am… in Him.

The Engagement Period

“But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10:6-9

I remember the days before my wedding. A lot of preparation and excitement and eager anticipation. And the day of, I wanted to look my best because I was soon to be joined to the one I love… as one flesh. In the early days, before we were even engaged, he was the one I wanted to be with. ALL THE TIME. At work, I thought about Him. As soon as I got home, I’d call him and arrange a time to meet. I’d shower and prep and fly to him and not leave him until I had to. We talked about everything and I would hold his hand. I would shower him with kisses, and hug him as tight as I could. I clung to him afraid to let go. See, I held fast to the one I loved.

Then came the wedding, and days of bliss followed. But then, reality set in. I realized that a relationship with the one I love took a little work. It was not all sunshine and roses. In fact, many days were like thunderstorms and thorns. We had to adjust to each other. And honestly, there was a time or two that I didn’t know if we would make it. But thankfully, we’re together today… our bond stronger than ever. Our relationship has endured the test of time, and I cannot imagine being apart from him. For He’s my husband… we are as one.

So… what about God? He tells me that He is my Husband. Can I honestly say I have felt the same about Him? And what about Jesus? The church is the bride of Christ, which makes Him the Bridegroom. So have I eagerly run to Jesus in the same manner I flew to my earthly mate? Have I wholly devoted myself to Him, as I have done with my tangible husband? As I burned for my fiancé so many years back, have I been overtaken by an all consuming fire for Jesus? Because the reality is, this is our engagement period and I should be consumed by Him. This is the time for getting to know Him. And until that glorious Day when He returns, it will continue to be the time for getting to know Him. I should be pursuing Him every bit as much as I pursued my husband if not more so. Because I made a commitment to Him when I received Him into my heart. For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I committed to Him until that Day (2 Timothy 1:12).

You know, Jesus is there waiting for me to turn to Him. The fact is He is my first Love, but over time my heart grew cold. Because I allowed myself to be seduced by the world and all she has to offer. See, the world beckons to her lovers every day and if we’re not careful, we’ll be unfaithful to the One we’re betrothed to. Because the lure of status, the demands of self, the desire for material gain, and the cravings for earthly pleasures are hard to resist. “For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…” 2 Timothy 3:2-4.

God demands our loyalty and undivided love. We should love Him with all our heart and all our soul and all our mind. But is all of our heart available to offer Him? The fact is, most of us have been wooed away by other lovers. Most of us are actively committing adultery against the One who loves us the most. That means we’re harlots. And God has stern words of warning for harlots. However, His mercies are new every morning. Each day we have another chance to be faithful to the One who is Faithful and True. We simply must choose to nurture our relationship with Him by giving Him the attention He so deserves. This is the only way we can get to know Him… the relationship.

For quite some time now, I’ve been on a mission to know God and what He requires and expects of me. But now I see that I’ve been going about it all wrong. Because I’ve been trying to work out a formula to follow God’s commands. So dogmatic have I been about my regimen, I’ve left no room for the spontaneity of a relationship with Him. And because I’ve forgotten the simplicity of relationship, walking and talking and listening, I’ve bypassed His love! Because I’ve been focused on the routine. And you know, love should be the foundation of our relationship. And it is on His part for I know He loves me. Christ is the proof of His love. But what about my love? How can I love Him with all my heart, and all my soul and all my mind when my love is limited, having been doled out on other lovers?

We’ve all heard, “If you love something set it free; if it returns its yours forever, if not, it was never meant to be.” You know, it’s kind of like that with God, because He leaves it up to us as to whether or not we’ll return to our first Love. The decision is ours to make. Will we return to Him? Or will we doggedly pursue other lovers… false lovers… lovers who offer unspeakable pleasures…. lovers we seek relentlessly and passionately, but never lay claim to. Although it’s our nature to turn from Him, we’re fortunate in that it’s His nature to call us back. Throughout the pages of Scripture He calls out, “Return to me…” And He does the same today. See, no matter what we do, God will always love us and He’ll always quietly call us back to Him. Although He sets us free in that He allows us to make our own choices, He will never utterly let us go. Because He remains faithful to the unfaithful. Because He loves us more than we could possibly imagine.

And so, I will rest in the prayer of Jesus. His prayer was that He would be in us, and the Father in Him… complete unity… like a marriage. My prayer is that I will forsake my false lovers, so that I may return to Him with my whole heart. My prayer is that through a real relationship with God, I will come to know Him. And in knowing Him, I will love Him… my Betrothed. With all my heart, and with all my soul and with all my mind. And today is the day to get to know Him… for it’s our engagement period.

I in them and you in meso that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” John 17:23-26

 

A Love Story

“I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your betrothal, when you went after Me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.” Jeremiah 2:2

He said, “I know you by name, and you have found grace in My sight.” So she asked Him, “Show me Your way, that I may know You. Please show me Your glory…” And so, He lovingly took her by the hand and led her through the valley, through the desert… His presence ever before her. He brought her into a bountiful country, to eat of its fruit and its goodness. But when she entered, she defiled the land. She committed two evils… she forsook her Love as she took to her bosom many lovers. She conceived and bore Him children of harlotry. He named them No Mercy and Not my People. He said to them, “Bring charges against your mother, for she is not My wife, nor am I her Husband!” He said, “Let her put away her harlotries from her sight.”

And so, He turned His face away from her for a time, as she chased after her many lovers. And although she pursued them, she never overtook them. Yes, she sought them, but she never laid claim to them. And so, she remembered. She said, “I will go and return to my first Husband. For then it was better for me than it is now.” And He took her back. Although she forgot Him and went after her lovers, He allured her back to Him. He spoke comfort to her. In that day, she sang… as in the days of her youth… as in the days of her early betrothal. And it became as it was before… she again called Him her Husband.

He betrothed her to Him forever… He betrothed her to Him in righteousness, in justice, in lovingkindness, and in mercy. He is the One who betrothed her to Him… in faithfulness. He lovingly told her, “You shall know the LORD.”

**taken from the books of Exodus, Jeremiah and Hosea

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.