Tonight I went to church, as I am prone to do most Sundays. I happen to attend the church where my brother pastors, Natomas Vineyard.
There is something hilarious and surreal about listening to your big brother teach. Then again, we both listened to our dad do the same thing our whole lives so I suppose, for me, there is something surreal about listening to someone OTHER THAN a relative teach.
Tonight my bother taught on loneliness. A very poignant subject and one that reflects the inner most thoughts and feelings of so many people. Yes, even people who go to church. If you think that people who love Jesus are never lonely, never depressed and never in need of encouragement, you are mistaken my friend. If you are interested in listening to this teaching, click here.
As people shared their thoughts on loneliness, times they had felt it and what that meant to them, it became very clear to me that I was lacking a memory in which I felt lonely. I am talking about an aching, deeply emotional feeling inside of you.
On one hand that is a terrific thing. I have always felt needed, wanted and I have always been surrounded by friends and family. I have always had purpose.
As I listened to examples of why someone felt lonely I felt equal parts of blessing and shame come over me.
Blessing because I have never moved to a new city. I have never gone to a school where I didn’t know a soul. I have never started a job and felt like an outcast. I have never met the devil of depression or the feeling of helplessness. Frankly, I have lead a charmed life. Therein lies the shame.
Why am I ashamed that my life has not fallen on hard times? It isn’t like I have received everything I ever wanted, yet I felt as though I must have been living in a fairytale. Still am.
I pride myself on being a good listener, a good sounding board. I like to talk through people’s problems and offer a workable solution. As most of my friends have told me, I missed my calling as a therapist.
Tonight I felt ashamed for not being able to share heartache from experience. I can do my best to imagine how someone must feel in their loneliness, but I cannot share in their pain, in their depression. I cannot offer my story, my experience to bring them to a place of happiness.
So I prayed. I prayed that God would show me the silent pain of loneliness. Not in a real way (although you never know) but in such a way that I can understand what a person who is lonely feels like. What thoughts go through their head. What the desires of their heart are. I want to hear their pain, know their struggle.
Most importantly I want to be a friend to the lonely. I want to listen, to love. I want to offer a haven in the eye of the storm raging inside them. I don’t know how, but I know that I will search harder and more diligently for signs of the broken, of the hurting.
I know that my charmed life is a blessing, but it is my crutch. Sometimes, it can be my curse. However, I am determined to turn this crutch, this curse into a blessing for those that have never known it.
I want to offer hope. Do you need hope?