sidewalk

Feeling Alone in a Crowd

 sidewalk

Have you ever felt completely alone and isolated? I’m not sure there is anyone who hasn’t felt the stabbing pain of isolation. It can come like a crashing wave when you wouldn’t expect it. Perhaps things are going well in your life and you can’t find a reason to feel alone, yet you do. Maybe you’ve taken a step of faith in obedience to God and now you feel like He has abandoned you. Or you may be struggling with depression or anxiety and feel like something is wrong with you. Whatever your situation is, loneliness is painful and can penetrate every facet of life.

For the past few years the theme of aloneness has been something that has reared its ugly head when I least expected it or wanted it. I have been surrounded by wonderful friends, strived to walk in obedience, jumped into exciting new adventures, and known a loving God, but yet I have still felt days of aloneness. For me, it’s led to seasons of depression, frustration, and honest questioning as to why God is plaguing me (okay… I admit I can be a bit dramatic sometimes). I’ve tried to make myself feel less alone with anything from over-dosing on people, food, or exercise. And yet those things still come up short in the end. “Well God, you don’t seem to be listening, so I’ll just fix this myself!” is typically the temper tantrum in my head. Even as I’m typing this I’m reminded, He is SO gracious with me – even when I act like a child.

Woven throughout the entirety of scripture we see person after person struggling, falling down, and questioning God in their journey to holiness.

Yet when I read God’s Word, I quickly find myself no longer alone, but in a sea of Godly, faithful people who can share in my pain. Woven throughout the entirety of scripture we see person after person struggling, falling down, and questioning God in their journey to holiness. We see few (if any) stories of a servant of God being loved and sharpened through comfortable situations.

If we believe that God is the God of everything, and sees every tear we shed and emotion we feel, and loves the core of us in a profound way, isn’t it safe to assume that God will use even seasons of aloneness for our good? Let that sink in. What if he has led you into this season and you will come out of it knowing and depending on Him in a deeper way? I don’t know your specific situation, but I do know that our loving Father may be using this season as a part of the promise in Philippians 1:6, “…He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

If we believe that God is the God of everything, and sees every tear we shed and emotion we feel, and loves the core of us in a profound way, isn’t it safe to assume that God will use even seasons of aloneness for our good?

In my own journey I’ve learned a few truths that bring me back to reality and remind me that the Gospel offers hope even when I feel isolated:

1)   In moments of aloneness it’s easy to feel like God has forgotten you.

The tapes in your head may be mocking you, and suddenly the truths you have always known to be true are shaky. “Does he really see me? If God cares for me why am I hurting?” The greatest encouragement I’ve ever heard when I’m in this state is this: Jesus was forsaken by God on the cross so you do not have to be. When Jesus was on the cross he cried out to his Father, “ My God my God why have you forsaken me?!” This moment of separation from God was part of the penalty for our sin. We never have to fear God’s absence because he is incapable of doing so. Jesus endured the absence of God on the cross so we would not have to.

2)   The enemy would love to use your pain as an excuse for sin.

It’s amazing the things we will rationalize to numb sadness. How do you self-medicate? Is it alcohol? A TV show? Complaining to people around you? A pint of ice cream? I usually notice that I’m attempting to numb something mid-ice cream bite or during the closing credits of a TV binge. My prayers lately have been asking God to convict me quickly before I engage in those behaviors. It’s not always natural for me to run to him. I have to consciously say no to my flesh in those moments. It also helps to have scripture ready to read (or memorize) when you feel the need to run to those medications (I have been running to Isaiah 58:11 and Psalm 42 lately).

3)   Allow the Body of Christ to surround you.

Bring a couple of your closest friends into your struggle. You may feel like you will alienate them or push them away but this is a beautiful opportunity to feel the love of God (that you are probably doubting) in a tangible way through His people. In fact, chances are they can identify to your pain on some level. Hearing you talk about your pain may be freeing for them to do the same!

We never have to fear God’s absence because he is incapable of doing so. Jesus endured the absence of God on the cross so we would not have to.

If you find yourself in a season of isolation know that you aren’t alone. While it can feel scary and hopeless at times, remember that God sees you, your pain, and the circumstances that have led to your pain, even when you don’t feel it. He has not left you to figure this out on your own. Stop trying to pull Him to you. Open your eyes and see that He is already there.

 

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Sarah Welles

About

Sarah Welles currently lives in Riverside, CA, serving as a Residence Director at Cal Baptist University. She has a passion for people and seeing lives changed through the practical application of the gospel in everyday life. Sarah loves a good cup of coffee, being active, and laughing! She is thrilled to be a part of this league.


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