Loneliness and Longing for God

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day.  It seems people either love the day, if they have someone to spend it with, or hate it, if they have no one to spend it with.  My whole life, I’ve been in the latter category, often deigning to just ignore the holiday and treat it like any other day.  Still, it’s one of the days of the year on which, despite my efforts at apathy, I am haunted more vocally than normal by the question, “Will I be alone forever?”

Really, I feel ridiculous for even thinking this.  To call myself “alone” is absurd, considering how many beautiful friendships the Lord has blessed me with and the loving family that surrounds me.  Not a day goes by when I do not see someone I love, who loves me.  But still, my heart cries, “I am alone.”

I’ve become more aware of this cry in the past year, as the Lord has been working healing on my heart.  A couple months ago, I finally admitted and accepted the truth that I would dearly like to get married at some point, and that I would love to have a family of my own.  This was a huge step for me.  Now, though, having confronted the desire, its presence is more clearly before me.

At this time in my life, I’m surrounded by friends who are entering new relationships, finding men and women they love, and getting married to amazing people.  I am thrilled for them.  I am overjoyed.

But at the same time, a voice inside me keeps asking, “Am I good enough for anyone?  Will I ever find someone who I can love and be loved by?  Will I ever have a share in that great adventure?  Or will I be single forever?”

In the midst of wrestling with this struggle, there are two main things I have learned:

1. The best reaction to my unmet longings is to throw myself into the arms of the Lord.

In my Old Testament class, my professor used to say over and over again, “This life is characterized by relentless difficulty.  This is to drive us to God.”  So far, I’ve found it true.  When I’m lonely or despairing of my future, the temptation is great to seek respite in the oblivion brought by stories.  I’m hurting, so I’ll watch an action movie.  I’m longing for romance, so I’ll watch a chick flick.  I’m lonely, so I’ll curl up with a fantasy novel and lose myself in another world.

All those things only temporarily help avoid the real issues.  It’s only when I put my drug of choice (stories) aside and come honestly before the Creator that any healing takes place.  Sometimes it hurts more.  Sometimes nothing feels any better.  Sometimes the pain leaves.  Regardless, I’m always reminded of these truths: That the Creator is my Father, that my Father cherishes me as a beloved daughter, and that His love for me is greater than I can ever fathom.

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!”
~1 John 3:1

2. My desire is an echo of God’s desire for relationship with us.

I long to be desired by someone.  I long to be pursued, to be sought after and known through persistent seeking.  I long to be cherished and valued.

God longs for the same things.  Over and over, He calls out to us in His word, “Seek me!  I want to be pursued by you.”  Coming to a Jerusalem who did not receive Him as her Bridegroom, Christ wept as he cried out, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how often I have longed to gather your children together…but you were not willing.  If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace” (Matthew 23:37; Luke 19:41-42).

As John and Stasi Eldredge point out it Captivating, God’s first and greatest command speaks of this longing: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (p. 30; Mark 12:30).  “Love me with all of yourself.  Put all of who you are into trying to know me more,” He seems to say.

In the sermon on the mount, Jesus addresses the things that we do pursue: Money, clothing, shelter, and food.  His response to our striving is, “Seek Me first.  Make Me your priority, the center and foundation of your life, your every waking and sleeping moment, and I’ll take care of everything you need” (Matthew 6:19-34, paraphrased).  How great is His longing for us!!

The other night, when my loneliness was particularly strong, I lay in bed praying before going to sleep.  As I prayed, my desire to be sought after grew even stronger, and then without words God answered.  “I want this, too, My daughter.  You long for someone you do not know, but I long for the people I made.  O! that My Bride would desire Me!”

“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
~Jeremiah 29:12-13

Whatever you are going through right now, I urge you to seek comfort in God our Father.  He longs for you, He loves you, and He is the only thing that can satisfy.

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