I have another remedy for loneliness!
It was during my lonely times that I had the time to mine talents from deep within myself.
I had no idea when I married and began the journey toward adulthood and through adulthood that God had given me so many talents. Now, wait a minute. I don’t have talents because of anything I have done. When God fashioned the one an only me, He placed some “jewels”- a little “gold” here and some “silver” there deep within my being. Growing up, I never recognized them, except for two – sewing with a bit of creativity tucked in.
So when Miss Lonely came to visit me and I experienced her presence for the first time in my life, I was living in NY. We had moved out of state, half way across the nation. I was ALONE! One day I took myself out for a stroll around the darling town of Ballston Spa where we had found an apartment, a place to live while my husband worked in Schenectady.
So— I strolled past a ceramics shop. Eyeing the display in the window, I decided to step in. Oooh. I was immediately hooked. The village ceramics shop became my go to place. It was there that I recognized how much pleasure it gave me to create. Watching a white piece take on color and be transformed excited me. I couldn’t wait to decorate my house and give away gifts. I met other women. Miss lonely be gone.
That experience led me to understand something about myself and others. We all have hidden talents. It is up to us to mine them from within and bring them out to the light where they will shine- giving us purpose and others joy.
Over the years I’ve pulled many “jewels” out from within. Today I am going to share one with you:
I realized I had a problem, three problems actually!
Problem #2- My “make-up” bag is ripping apart.
Problem # 3- I need a new make-up bag!
So…I gathered my yarn scraps and crocheted a new make- up bag. In so doing I began the very necessary chore of clearing out and cleaning up this mess of yarn.
What have I learned through my bouts of loneliness?. God took those times and ancouraged me to come forth as gold. I like that I can do “stuff”‘ I am not the best at what I do, but it gives me satisfaction, saves me a bit of money here and there and God has used these talents He gave me to build a bit of confidence into the heart of His daughter.
Look within, You may be amazed at what is hidden inside your heart and mind.
Next week I am going to show you my summer project! I cant wait to let you in on it.
Here I am, continuing to contemplate the topic of loneliness in the midst of LIFE happening:
Yes it has been a couple of weeks since I have visited you. These have been weeks filled with challenges
Maybe you remember that I stopped blogging on waiting because I felt I had been released from God’s Wait Room. I hesitated to write that on October the 7th. That I had been released… I know all too well that we are always in one of three seasons of life: Headed toward God’s Wait Room, in His Wait Room, or recently released from The Wait Room. So here I am back waiting… We have experienced a setback. God has not been set back, though. He knew all along that I need this next trip to lift these heavy waits. I am asking Him, though, to lift the weight from my loved one and allow a soaring freedom, a joy filling release to live a “normal’ life. “Help me help my loved one.”
Back to the topic: Remedies for loneliness.
This past Sunday our church bulletin asked for volunteers. I was especially drawn to the two days before Thanksgiving. Our local Rescue Mission has asked for helpers to serve food to the many homeless.
What thoughts cross your mind when you read a few sentences asking for help? I immediately looked at the dates and thought, “Hmmm, any other day I could go, but those days I will be preparing for Thanksgiving,”
Let me come clean here on this page. Thanksgiving is a time of major loneliness for me. Oh! My family and I celebrate Thanksgiving. I pull out all the stops. I decorate the house in as warm fall motif. I cook all the wonderful recopies my mother-in-law gave me. By now I have them all memorized! The guys in my household look forward to a day of chilling out and eating. They tumble into the basement like baskets full of puppies and along with their dad experience the happiest day of their life- football and food. We have always lived FAR FAR away from extended family, so rarely experience the “big family” celebrations that devine the holidays.
I, on the other hand, hang out in the kitchen—alone! And I don’t like to cook!
Don’t get me wrong. I have learned to overcome the sense of poor me all alone in the kitchen syndrome. I’m just saying… my guys are in the basement and I am in the kitchen.
This is where today’s remedy for loneliness comes in:
Serve! Step out of myself and into others’ lives. Serve them.
Serve the men in my life. They certainly bring me tons of joy.
Serve the needy in my community. There but by the grace of God go I.
Serve in my children’s schools. Teachers are so overwhelmed these days.
Serve in my church. Teach a Sunday school. Work in the nursery. Lead a Bible study.
Serve my friends. Take time to pray for them. Call them. Listen. Encourage. Laugh.
This year my Thanksgiving remedy for loneliness will be to prepare all my dishes ahead of time. They taste better after they have marinated for a while- right?
Tuesday or Wednesday I am going to serve food to Jesus’ favorite people, those who are in need.
Serving, (not because I’m good, but because it’s good for me)
This series on loneliness ( scroll down to October 9) began with a devotion I wrote for Proverbs 31 Ministries: http://proverbs31.org/devotions/devotion-author/van-walton/
Today I was already prepared to post my next thoughts on loneliness, until one of my speech students hijacked my blog. What she had to say in her speech blew me away. Her understanding and maturity, brought about by her own life’s hard knocks caused me to sit up and listen. This blog is dedicated to R. B. Today she is my hero!
I gave my students a prompt: Choose a quote that speaks to you. Memorize it. Weave it into your story and challenge your audience to change the way they live.
So R.B. began by asking us if we were familiar with loneliness. Of course many hands went up. She admitted she had also experienced loneliness.
Let me stop here. R.B. is a beautiful, much loved and respected young lady. She is hard working, honest, a good friend to all, humble, an amazing example of a Christian young lady and a true follower of Jesus. She not only speaks her beliefs. She lives them.
Looking in on her life, one would never imagine she had ever experienced loneliness. She has 3 siblings and lives within a large loving family.
After admitting that she is familiar with loneliness, she reminded her audience that the disciples feared facing loneliness after Jesus’ departure. In fact they went into deep denial concerning his announcement. You know the one when he said his time on earth was short.
R.B. told her story of a time when the announcement was made that someone in her life would be separating from her. The news she received crushed her. Then her mother read to her from John 16 reminding her that, like the disciples, she had an advocate and a friend who would guide her in truth during those times of loneliness when she would miss the one who had played a major role in her young life.
My young, yet mature, student convinced each one of us that she believed Jesus’ words. She learned to lean on the Holy Spirit and trust her Father in heaven allowing him to be her Daddy here on earth.
She invited the Holy Spirit to fill her empty places allowing Him to comfort her and give her counsel. She learned to depend on Him, just as Jesus had encouraged.
Loneliness is a debilitating emotion that crosses all lines. Adults and teens, men and women, rich and poor all understand the worthless and hopeless feelings loneliness presses into our hearts.
But Jesus knew and He did not leave us to suffer in solitude and seclusion. Read His words of comfort and believe:
“I didn’t tell you earlier because I was going to be with you for a while longer. But now I am going away to the one who sent me… It is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.”
The truth is, friends, we have a friend who will never leave us. He reminds us we are never abandoned, never alone. He brings peace and helps us pray. He prays for us when we cannot!
R.B. felt abandoned until she heard the truth. Let’s believe that God’s Holy Spirit is here to stay. He is our friend. We can turn to Him in times of need.
Here’s an assignment for you, to fill your time during moments of loneliness. Look up Holy Spirit, Counselor and Advocate in your concordance. Read what the Bible says about the Friend Jesus left us when He returned to the Father.
My morning prayers often include the following request, “ Lord, Show me one lone woman who needs a word of encouragement or a caring touch. If it is your will I will be Jesus with skin on and hopefully shine a little light into her life today.”
The encounters I have experienced as a result of this short prayer have amazed me. God uses me! He will use you. The result: loneliness is wiped away for a moment.
I’ve had divine encounters with grocery store clerks and stay at home moms. I’ve enjoyed long conversations with total strangers on airplanes. I’ve actually made friends with people God divinely appointed to cross my path.
I met my close friend in the ski chalet one winter day while our children were skiing. She had recently moved to town and begun visiting our church. We spotted each other. I recognized her. We greeted one another. I grabbed my cup of hot chocolate and we began to talk.
We stepped into each other’s lives at a time we both felt vulnerable to being alone. Our growing friendship filled deep needs.
Today 17 years later, we have both moved from the town where we met. She moved north and I moved south. That did not keep us apart. We’ve visited each other and talk on the phone often.
I thank God for answering my prayer the day he gave me a new friend to help combat my loneliness.
Sitting down to this blog I am reminded of two songs from my youth, “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by the Beatles and “One is the Loneliest Number” by Three Dog Night.
Both songs sing about loneliness. One song addresses the loneliness of being in an audience. It is a relief to be in a group of people being entertained. The other unashamedly points out the difficulty of existing in a state of one.
“One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do. Two can be as bad as one. It’s the loneliest number since the number one. No is the saddest experience you’ll ever know…”
Loneliness. I have felt it in crowds, in small groups, even where two of us are together but not connected or intimate with each other. Loneliness, whether a result of life’s normal course or a rejection is a “hard row to hoe. “
So what’s the remedy for loneliness?
Over the course of the next few weeks I’ll share some experiences I’ve had, how I pressed through solitude and its grip on my emotional health.
As a child, when I found myself one new kid on the playground surrounded by groups of happy and industrious children, I felt no shame. I simply pushed into circles of children, invited or not. It didn’t take long to grow up and become socially aware. You just don’t do that- push yourself, uninvited, into social circles. I learned how to look totally content and uninterested while sitting all alone.
Fast forward to the life of one in the middle of a neighborhood.
What’s a lonely wife to do when her husband walks out the door and goes to work?
I looked for work. Most of the time I sat at home waiting for the phone call.
I cleaned house. Most of the time it didn’t need cleaning. After all only two of us lived in a tiny apartment.
I planned, shopped for, and cooked meals. That didn’t take up most of my time.
I also felt God’s nudge. “Sit with me.”
Remedy #1 for loneliness. Become intimately acquainted with the Father:
I began to read my Bible, to become better acquainted with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. In Genesis I learned that God existed from before the beginning, that He is Cretor and Creative. Reading about all the various animals I realized God has a delightfully fun side. He loves beauty and is generous. I wanted to learn more about Him. I read on.
In the gospels I read the stories of Jesus. One year I spent reading the gospels over and over again. Toward the end of Jesus’ life He talked about the fact that He would not leave his friends alone, that He would send a comforter and an counselor to guide them.
I did a word search and study using my concordance, looking up all the verses about the Holy Spirit.
I bought a journal and wrote verses that intrigued me. I talked with God about His Word. I found an inviting spot in my home where I could sit with God, my Bible, my coffee or tea. I often chose inspiring music to listen to. Soon I found myself spending entire mornings with God, learning about Him, His world, His plan.
I’ve also stepped into Christian Book Stores to check out their resources. Often I left with a study guide that covered a particular book of the Bible or a certain spiritual topic. I look back on those days which came intermittently in my life, due to random moves, and am thankful for the personal retreats and spiritual growth I experienced during those times of loneliness.
While in bookstores my eyes were opened to the plethora of literature available to Christians. Reading Christian fiction, how to and self help books supplemented the education I already had.
Today we have a wide access to on line help. I encourage you to visit the Proverbs 31 online store. Every book offered is rich with truth and guidance for a fulfilling life.
Believe it or not I reflect on those days when loneliness had such a grip on me I thought I would sink into depression, and I feel a special warmth and comfort. I thank God for taking hold of me, turning my eyes on Him and opening up a world of good reading. I saw loneliness as a sentence to punish me. God used it as a retreat to strengthen me.
One doesn’t have to be lonely because one can always invite God into the mix and then there are two!
I’m in a season of life where God has called me out of His Wait Room, returned me to the playing field to live again. Yet, I know as I write these words, I contradict myself.
In this life we are called to work out in God’s Wait Room constantly- in order to stay in spiritual shape. I guess what I am saying is, even though, at this moment my heavy waits seem lighter for some reason, I am forever changed by my experiences in God’s Wait Room because of the amazing lessons learned as I waited. I may have learned how to lift the heavy waits of my current trials because they are now my normal or because I have released them to God or because prayer has been answered. That is the case in my life right now- Praise God from whom all blessings flow…
I do not, however, want to forget, lest I return to my former spiritually weak condition. So I review the exercises I learned from King Hezekiah who choose what’s pleasing in God’s eyes. (2 Kings 18:3-5)
-Remain faithful -Obey
-Trust in the Lord
-Cling to God –Worship continuously
–Tear down my idols –Dig deep into God’s Word –Surround myself with Godly people who will pray for me
I learned to develop a repetitious routine of the above exercises. As I rotated through each practice I lost track of the wait that was weighing me down. My focus on God’s strength, protection, and provision gave me what I needed to press through to the next moment, hour or day. Some nights I spent entire nights working through my routine. Sometimes I concentrated more on worship or found myself deep in God’s Word. Other times my prayers included a constant repetition: ”I cling to you Lord. Have mercy on me. I cling to you Lord. Have mercy.” Other times I would place my “wait” in God’s hands and pray for those who were praying for me.
I pray that my experience in God’s Wait Room has encouraged you. If it has, then my trials were not in vain and the wait was worth the while. If you find yourself lifting challenging waits right now, remember it’s our mighty God who calls us to His Wait Room. Don’t hesitate to reach out and grab hold of Him. Never let go and determine to cling as long as you have breath.
Friends, we have come to the end of this series- Wait Management. I hope it has been encouraging for you. You commitment to visit here and your comments have blessed me.
I hope to see you Wednesday when I’ll be posting about loneliness based my Proverbs 31 devotional: A Remedy for Loneliness.
The Lord is good to those who WAIT for Him, to the person who seeks Him. Lamentations 3:25
Return to your God, observe kindness and justice, and WAIT for your God continually. Hosea 12:6
Those who WAIT for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. Isaiah 40:31
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. WAIT for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes wait for the Lord. Psalms 27:13-14
Make me know Thy ways, O Lord; teach me Thy paths. Lead me in Thy truth and teach me, for Thou art the God of my salvation; for Thee I WAIT all the day…Psalm 25:4-6
Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, WAITING at my door posts. For he who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord. Proverbs 8:34-35
My soul, WAIT in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken. Psalm 62: 5-6
I WAITED patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He brought me out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. And He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Psalm 40:1-3
The LORD favors thosewho fear Him, ThosewhoWAITfor His loving kindness. Psalm 147:11
Therefore WAIT for me,” declares the Lord. Zephaniah 3:8
Indeed, none of those who WAIT for You will be ashamed. Psalms 25:3
For since the world began, no ear has heard, and no eye has seen a God like you, who works forthosewhoWAITfor him! Isaiah 64:4
Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us, And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we WAIT patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled. Romans 15:4
…but not in a manner worthy of imitating!
Before I go on, I want to thank you for your comments. They mean the world to me. It is when I understand that God has used my time trials for His glory, that my pain has not been in vain, that is when I can priase Him and understand the greater picture.
Of all the devastating stories in the Bible Job’s tops the list.
Job was a very rich man with a wonderful family. He owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys. Many servants servants worked for him. He was the greatest of all the men of the east.The Bible says he wasblameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil. I would’ve liked to have been his neighbor. He lived in Uz. Wherever that is I don’t know! Somewhere in the East. It seems his children knew how to have fun. His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 When the days of feasting had completed their cycle, Job would send and consecrate them, rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings according to the number of them all. It seems Job was a good daddy also.
You can read all about him in the book of Job. He is an amazing man. He lead an inspiring life.
Suddenly, in a series of devastating storms, attacks, and raids Job lost everything- his family and possessions. Everyone and everything except his wife and friends.
“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.’ Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.” (Job 1:20-22 NASB)
Wow. He had every reason to push back. He was left with nothing. Yet, his first response was to praise the Lord. Railing against God, doubting Him, walking away from our Father never gets us anywhere and really it doesn’t make us feel any better. I know. I’ve railed at God, screamed at Him, threatened Him with walking away, and doubted His ways. Nothing changed!
I’ll tell you one thing. There was nothing dignified about the ways I have behaved during the times I have had to wait out my storms or attacks from the enemy. I emerged frazzled, red eyed, with no direction.
Not so Job. He worshipped God and gave him all the glory.
Several years ago a radio announcement of horrible crash on a road in town kept many mothers’ rapt attention. We knew the busy road. It took many student drivers to school each morning. We hoped our worst fears would not be confirmed. Unfortunately a beautiful Christian young lady was killed in that accident. Phone calls flew back and forth reporting her car as being in the middle of the crash. Her mother heard the news yet had to wait for confirmation. I can only imagine the terror, the panic, the horror as she waited for confirmation. I am sure she prayed, “Let them be wrong. Don’t let it be my baby.” The moment came when she was told and her worst fears were realized. Do you know what she did? Hold on. You will cry.
She fell to her knees and raised her hands to the heavens. She cried out, “Blessed be the name of the Lord. He gives and He takes away.”
Breathe in. Breathe out.
There was another woman. She was Job’s wife. We don’t know her name. The Bible simply says Job’s wife. She is one I learn from- how not to wait.
Not only did Job lose everything, he was also struck with scabs and sores that caused him great anguish:
“The Adversary departed from the Lord’s presence and struck Job with severe sores from the sole of his foot to the top of his head. Job took a piece of broken pottery to scratch himself and sat down on a mound of ashes. Job’s wife said to him, ‘Are you still clinging to your integrity? Curse God, and die.’
Job said to her, ‘You’re talking like a foolish woman. Will we receive good from God but not also receive bad?’ In all this, Job didn’t sin with his lips.” Job 2:7-10 NASB)
We have a choice. We can fall to our knees and praise God or we can curse Him and die. We can follow the way of the foolish or walk in wisdom.
Father God. Oh how I long to be a wise woman of dignity. I know I am yours. I praise You for doing everything within your power to reveal yourself to me. No other God would show His love toward me the way you do. NO other God would go to such extremes to get my attention to teach me valuable lessons. Strengthen me Father to trust You. I want to fact my time trials like Your friend Job. Thank you for sharing His story. His life helps us in our unbelief to believe and praise you in every circumstance.
When was the last time you read the book of Esther? It’s only 10 short chapters of pure intrigue and drama. Why not read it sometime this week. And while reading it consider how obedient, disciplined, and perseverant she was.
Once again I read another story in the Bible that has less than redeemable qualities. A story that starts out questionably has a happy ending. Isn’t it the same with us. We find ourselves in God’s Wait Room under unfavorable circumstances. Feeling trapped, like prisoners in a jail or lost wanderers on a forest path, we complain, realize our plight and panic.
I’m amazed at Esther’s demeanor. Of course we aren’t completely privileged to her thoughts. Even though she does question her cousin’s plan she participates.
Short story: The queen of Persia humiliates the king and he deposes her. His advisors devise a plan to replace Queen Vashti and the search for the perfect young woman begins. The orphaned Esther is chosen among many to go to the palace to begin a year of preparation after which she will spend the night with the king. It turns out that the king loves her and choses her to be his queen. During this time a certain, Haman is chosen to be CEO over all the king’s nobles. His status is so elevated that all are commanded to bow to him whenever he passes by.
Mordechai, the older cousin who had adopted Esther, refuses to bow down, angering Haman who devises a plan to rid his nation of all Hebrews. When Mordechai gets the threatening news, he turns to Esther for help. Messages fly between him from outside the palace to her inside the palace walls. Finally Mordechai convinces Esther to approach the king.
We might think nothing of going up to our husband and asking a favor of him. Not so in the palace of Susa. No one was to approach the king unless he called for them, under threat of death. (Esther 4:11-12)
Meanwhile Esther waits for more instructions. Mordechai’s famous words return to her encouraging her to act. “Who knows maybe you were placed in the palace fo such a time as this.” (vs 14)
Convinced her time to act has come, she doesn’t’ rush to conclusions. She doesn’t run to the king. She doesn’t fly into a frenzy. She sends a message to her cousin asking that the Jews fast for three days. She also fasts with her maids.
In God’s Wait Room the Trainer, prepares her to be the agent of change. We don’t know how Esther decides what to do, but over a period of three days she uses her time to plan well. After the fast, she donned her royal robes and went before the king. He raised his scepter signaling her permission to approach.
Esther’s willingness to obey during her wait saves a nation.
Who knows why God has called you to a time out. Is it possible He is preparing you for a moment in time you cannot imagine or perceive?
Let this be our prayer:
Father God. I feel separated and pulled away from those I love. You have stretched me beyond my level of comfort by bringing me to this place to lift these heavy waits. I don’t understand. I don’t know what to do. What I do know is that you have allowed this circumstance in my life. Father God, I give myself to You. Give me eyes to see my dilemma from your perspective. Give me a heart that is willing to participate in your will. May I grow closer to You and may others benefit from this experience. Lord God, as others observe me, be the Light and the Strength they see in me, for your glory, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
I’ve had this poem in in files for many years. Thought I would share it with you today.
Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried;
Quietly, patiently, lovingly, God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate…
And the Master so gently said, “Wait.”
“Wait? you say wait?” my indignant reply.
“Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By faith I have asked, and I’m claiming your Word.
“My future and all to which I relate
Hangs in the balance, and you tell me to wait?
I’m needing a ‘yes’, a go-ahead sign,
Or even a ‘no’ to which I can resign.
“You promised, dear Lord, that if we believe,
We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
And Lord I’ve been asking, and this is my cry:
I’m weary of asking! I need a reply.”
Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate,
As my Master replied again, “Wait.”
So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut,
And grumbled to God, “So, I’m waiting for what?”
He seemed then to kneel, and His eyes met with mine…
and He tenderly said, “I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead and cause mountains to run.
“I could give all you seek and pleased you would be.
You’d have what you want, but you wouldn’t know Me.
You’d not know the depth of my love for each saint.
You’d not know the power that I give to the faint.
“You’d not learn to see through clouds of despair;
You’d not learn to trust just by knowing I’m there.
You’d not know the joy of resting in Me
When darkness and silence are all you can see.
“You’d never experience the fullness of love
When the peace of My spirit descends like a dove.
You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
But you’d not know the depth of the beat of My heart.
“The glow of my comfort late into the night,
The faith that I give when you walk without sight.
The depth that’s beyond getting just what you ask
From an infinite God who makes what you have last.
“You’d never know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that My grace is sufficient for thee.
Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true,
But, oh, the loss, if you missed what I’m doing in you.
“So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see
That the greatest of gifts is to truly know me.
And though oft My answers seem terribly late,
My most precious answer of all is still…Wait.”