Friday, June 6, 2008

Being alone

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.


amy said...

Aida, excellent blog, just wonderful. I appreciate your pointing out again Darin's teaching of really looking to see what's in your own heart. I intend to write a book on Christians as introverts someday. In the meantime, I'd love it if someone beat me to it, because I could certainly be well served myself by such a book!

lydia joy said...

Hey Aida,
I can so relate to this process of dealing with aloneness and I can appreciate your thoughts and your struggles. One thing I am learning is now that I am no longer in a "legalistic" or "religious" church and not many of my "friends" stayed my friends....I have a much greater friend in Him, and He fills my lonely's been a great opportunity to get to know God, my Father, my Friend in a more initmate despite the struggle to fill the fellowship need in my life, which I believe will happen again, I am grateful to have more time, and not even so much by choice, to spend with God....!
Don't you love that He knows our hearts so deeply that He answers our hearts cry......!!! Grace to you!

Karen said...

Another great article...grace upon grace! thanks Aida. I think the subject of lonliness and aloneness ties into allowing yourelf to embrace yourself. I was always afraid to do that. In fact, I was in a mode of rejecting myself. So..I had to continually look outside myself to know that I was ok, and if I didn't get that I felt alone and afraid. Thanks to Father and people like all of you, today, that's no longer the case=) Every time I connect here and on FBN, my heart is just overflowing with thankfulness for the freedom I have found. thank you...K

Aida said...

Thanks, Amy. What Darin teaches about re-connecting with our heart has really helped me so much and I'm finding that it's impacting every area of my life.

Why wait? You've got so much wisdom. I think you'd write a great book. I couldn't put all of the details in my blog post but you've also been very instrumental in helping me to grow freer as an introvert.

Lydia, what you said is so true. As believers, our hearts are crying out to know our Father more intimately. Yet, when he answers our prayers by giving us more alone time, we don't recognize what's happening and begin to feel sorry for ourselves. I never made the connection. Thanks for pointing that out. That new understanding will definitely change how I view my alone time.

Karen, I'm so glad you're finding freedom. I agree. I believe embracing ourselves with all of our faults is one of the first steps to freedom. Father wants us to know that we're not old worms crawling around in the dust but we're beautiful butterflies that were meant to soar with him.

I think you're right. People don't like alone time because they don't like themselves. I believe as we grow more comfortable with who we are that we'll learn to enjoy our opportunities to be alone.

I'm so glad you're finding encouragement here. I've enjoyed getting to know you.

All really great comments. Thanks for sharing, everybody.


Nicole said...

Aida! Wow, you are incredible, you and I have some many things in common. This post touched me so much! I have been lonely and I have shared stories with you where I have lost friendships, and finding contentment with what Father has provided here in our blog community! It is completely what I need as well! Father has really opened up so many opprotunites for true friendships right here! I love you Aida and miss you so much!

Love, Nicki!

Aida said...

Nicki, I'm glad you were encouraged by this post. Loneliness is one of the hardest things we have to deal with as free believers but isn't Daddy good to provide us with what we really need? This is an awesome blog community and I'm so thankful for all of you.

I've missed our conversations too. Maybe after you've settled into your new home, we can talk again. I know you're busy.

I love you too,

Joel Brueseke said...

A few days late here, but I'm playing 'catch up' after a few days out of town. :)

I can relate to all you've said here, as well as what everyone's said in the comments.

And even within the institution, I experienced a ton of loneliness. I mean, I would talk with people all the time and I'm sure I seemed like a sociable person, but it was hard to connect with people on a heart level when so much of the conversations revolved around what was happening within the institution! I could be in a congregation of 600+ people and still be all alone.

But like you, I haven't felt that type of loneliness in quite a while. I've been able to connect heart to heart with people outside the walls, and that's really where I'm feeling fulfilled these days.

Aida said...

Joel, I noticed your blog seemed unusually quiet. I'm glad you're back. I hope you had a good time while away and didn't get the shakes from being away from your computer for so long. LOL

I couldn't agree with you more. Loneliness has nothing to do with how many people surround you. It has to do with your heart. I never imagined I could feel so connect to people that I've never met in person but when it's a heart connection anything is possible.

Father has blessed me with so many online friends that at times it's hard to keep up with all of you. What a wonderful problem to have!

Loneliness stopped being a problem when I became truly thankful for what I have rather than stressing over what I don't have. From the comments that were expressed here, I see others have made that same decision and are also expereiencing freedom from loneliness.

Free Spirit said...

Hello Aida,
I came here through a link on another blog (maybe Joel's ?). I just want to say that I find myself wanting to get to know you better. Being that you're a grandmother, I am always looking for women who have more experience under their belts to learn from, when it comes to marriage and children. I have 4 children of my own, and I always seem to benefit from hearing from people like yourself, who've been down a few roads I on, not the least of which, now, is the road out of religion's grasp on my life.

I, too, can appreciate this post on aloneness. It seems like all of us who choose to walk away from religion, don't know it at the time, be we're also walking away from "friendships" that can't bear the strain of disagreement. I'm gaining so much encouragement, as I meet new blogging friends who are on similar journeys into truth.

Thanks for your post!

Aida said...

Free spirit, thanks for stopping by. I enjoy making new friends and I would love to get to know you better too. I don't know how much wisdom I have to share with you since I feel as though I'm still muddling through life but I'm certainly having more fun doing it. I'd still love to get to know you and I'm sure we can mutually encourage one another.

I bookmarked your blog so that I can go back and look it over. I've heard of Enya but never listened to any of her music. I really like what I heard on your blog.

It's true as we walk away from religion, it's hard but often our "friends" will walk away from us. Once we stop relating around activities, it seems like we no longer have anything in common.

I just love the neat group of bloggers that I'm meeting. Like Joel said, even though I haven't met any of you face to face, there's a heart connection that is real and very fulfilling.

Bino Manjasseril said...

Sorry I am just catching up my reading. Few hectic weeks at work and changes in my schedule kept me from reading many of your posts. But I am glad I read this now. This is an excellent post and I can see one very interesting thing: You and I have a lot of things in common. I too like to be alone, at least few minutes in my own world, preferably with a book. I can be totally lost in my thoughts. There is no other refreshing thing than this in my life. And like you, I too am learning to be contended with my current situations such as not being part of any local fellowships. I love our blog community. This is my primary source of encouragement and learning. So I would encourage you to keep doing what you are doing...

Aida said...

Bino, I understand. Since I was on vacation for almost a week, now I'm playing catch up and it's hard because I don't want to pass up any of the blogs that were posted while I was gone. I'm sure there was a lot of good stuff written. I hope your work has calmed down some.

I do like to be alone although right now I can tell I'm having trouble adjusting back to quiet after the constant excitement at Disney World. I think it'll take me a few days to get back to real life.

Apparently we are alike because like you I find it very refreshing to be alone with a good book. Alone isn't stressful anyone since I'm no longer lonely.

Like you, I've found this blog community to be very satisfying. Hebrews 10:25 says to not forsake the assembling together. As far as I'm concerned, we assemble together through our various blogs and I feel very fortunate to have found all of you.

Thanks for your encouragement. I don't know if I would have entered the world of blogging if it hadn't been for you and Joel encouraging me.