If you're someone who has struggled with feelings of loneliness, maybe this blog post will be an encouragement to you. Feelings of loneliness are a major problem for those of us who are learning how to live outside of the confines of religion. I've heard many free believers complain about the lack of face to face friendships and the loneliness that they feel. This leaves us wondering why there are some who are enjoying fellowship with like minded friends while we're all alone. At times, these thoughts leave us feeling like God has favorites and we're not one of them.
These are feelings and thoughts that I've struggled with at times but instead of dealing with them, I've pushed them down because after all God doesn't have favorites. We all know that. We've been taught that he's no respecter of persons. However, if we're honest, those feelings never really go away. They just stay hidden only to pop up again at a later date.
Recently, I've had two online friends send me emails in which they discussed their aloneness. As I answered them, it seems as though Father was reaching into my heart to reveal some things to me about aloneness vs. loneliness and where I stand in regards to these two experiences of life.
I have struggled with loneliness ever since I can remember. Of course, once I began to pull out of religion, those feelings got worse. At least while I was actively involved in the institution, there was a facade of relationship. However, as I began to distance myself from those activities, those relationships disappeared pretty quickly. This only resulted in intensifying the feeling of loneliness.
A few days ago, I realized that I haven't felt lonely in awhile. That surprised me since I probably now spend more time alone than I ever have before. The difference is that now these alone times are very enjoyable. It seems that Father is bringing me to a place of peace and contentment.
This all began about a year ago when a friend posted a link to an article about introverts. As I read the description, I was shocked to realize that I'm an introvert. Since I love to talk and am sociable, I've always thought that I was an extrovert. However, one of the main characteristics of an introvert is the need and desire for alone time. Well, that describes me perfectly. As I came to understand what makes introverts tick, I began to allow myself the freedom to be an introvert and to pull away when necessary in order to recharge with some alone time.
In January of this year, I started this blog. A couple of months prior to that I had connected with an awesome group of bloggers. The interaction through blogging and commenting on their blogs has become for me a very satisfying expression of the relationships that I had been seeking.
As I thought about the email conversations with my two friends, I knew Father was wanting me to "press into what I have." I have these wonderful online relationships that have come through blogging as well as through several online groups that I'm a part of. I knew Father was telling me to develop these relationships and not worry about the ones that I don't have. Wow! That has brought me great peace as I'm learning to let go of what I don't have in order to enjoy what I do have.
I've heard Darin Hufford say that Father answers the prayers of our heart and not the prayers of our mouths. An important reason why our prayers seemingly go unanswered is because what's in our heart is the opposite of what our mouth is saying. Darin has emphasized the importance of knowing what's in our heart and I believe the answer to my aloneness lies in understanding the desires of my heart.
The truth is I enjoy being by myself. I'm a thinker and can easily get lost in my own thoughts. Also, I love to read and be alone with a good book. Although I want fellowship with like thinking believers, the online relationships I've made have more than satisfied that need without sacrificing my need for privacy.
That's not to say that I don't jump at the chance to connect with people face to face. What it means is that I no longer desperately seek to find someone I can talk to or to spend time with. If the opportunity presents itself, I take it but if it doesn't, I'm at peace. Also, I'm now able to initiate times of fellowship without the desperation I felt at one time.
Even though I've prayed for fellowship with my mouth, I'm satisfied with aloneness because Father is answering the prayers of my heart.