Our Lonliness

Our loneliness is not a flaw.

We aren’t lonely because something is wrong with us.

We are lonely because something is right with us.

Our loneliness is the Triune God drawing us to Himself,

Our loneliness is God, our communal God in us, beckoning us to connect;

Our loneliness is God wooing us to Jesus

Leading us to know & to be known; to love & to be loved;

to befriend & to be befriended.

Loneliness urges the withdrawn self to engage.

It calls the private persona to become a real person.
It calls the impostor to get healthy by getting real.

Loneliness begins to fade when the image-conscious self-editor,
the retreater, the hider & the poser in us begins a transition
toward transparency.

But transparency can be fearsome & disorienting.

In the book, How I Lost Five Pounds in Six Years,
the writer gets honest & writes that
the reason he writes books,
the reason he does comedy
the reason he does everything
is because he is deeply broken & is desperate for people to like him.

We have an insatiable hunger for “likes”

Our desire for positive taps is a longing God put in us

This is our thirst to be known & loved, to be exposed & not rejected.

But competing with this is our fear of being cast out,
Our fear of being excluded, diminished & forgotten by the people we let in.

We’re surrounded by the insensitive who expose us to
Their constant judgment, which adds to our isolation & fear

We have reasons to assume the world is not safe
We become social chameleons,
We blend into the colors & textures of whatever environments we inhabit.
We have a chameleon fig leaf self for each situation

We have our work self,
We have our party self,
We have our church self,
We have our at-home self,
We have our Internet self,
We have many other selves that we “put on” to self-protect.

Like the chameleon, we are in chronic adaptation mode,
We are tweaking our external colors & textures to blend in
We want to belong & ward off potential predators.

This destructive strategy appeals to our frail & fearful hearts.

We want to be vulnerable,
We want to love & be loved,
But we are afraid to risk and expose/extend our true selves.

CS Lewis noted:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable.
Give a piece of your heart to another person,
and your heart may be wrung & possibly broken.
the only place outside of heaven where we can be
completely safe from all the dangers of love is hell”

How can we find healing for our ache of loneliness?
Where can we turn in our search for connection
Where can we find a safe space to know & be known?

It’s in Jesus’ & His true church
The church is not to be a social club for well-dressed posers;
The true church is a hospital for the sick & Jesus is the Chief Physician.
The true church is a detox center for addicts

The true church is not a place that retails therapy but pours out real therapy

Jesus’ real church is a purposeful, powerful, healing, safe hospital
for the sin-sick addict

The cure for addictions & we all have many is just turning
Number one: We turn to God
(Who alone can satisfy our every need & heals us)
Number two: we turn from idols
(addiction idols can never satisfy but multiplies our needs & destroys us)

The true church is not optional,
The true church is not shiny social club add-on to our lives.

The true church means joining our imperfect self to other imperfect selves
to form an imperfect community that, through Jesus, embarks on a journey
toward a better future together.

Our dream of community is discovered in Christ’s community,
His true church with all of its weaknesses & frailties,

Don’t be a destroyer of Christ’s community by dismissing the local church,
By dismissing it we become destroyers of Jesus’ first & foremost love.

Why are we so cynical of the local church.

We forget that the church at Corinth was narcissistic, arrogant, dysfunctional, litigious & sometimes adulterous, racist, and unjust.

But it received more redemptive attention & energy from Paul than any other
“New Testament” church.

It seems that as he beheld the wormy caterpillar that was Corinth,
he also envisioned the butterfly.
He seemed confident that He who began a good work in them
would be faithful to complete it.

How do we experience loneliness-slaying love in the midst of the imperfect,
messy community?

We’re to “Be kind because everyone you meet“
We’re to “ realize everyone is fighting a hard, hidden battle.”

As we limp toward transparency & community & friendship with our own
fears & insecurities, we recognize that we aren’t alone. We are all much afraid.

We all feel more insecure than confident,
We all feel more weak than strong,
We all feel more unlovable than lovely,
We all feel more irredeemable than redeemed.

When we see that we are not alone, we can reach out to one another.

Don’t underestimate the power of words.

While shaming words can take courage out of a soul,
encouraging & affirming words can put courage back in.

When you offer critique to another soul, do it gently.
When you offer encouragement to another soul, do it fiercely.

“But,” we groan,
there are some things that bother us about this community
there are people that we really don’t like.

But Moving toward people we don’t particularly like can give us our best opportunities to love.

Biblical love is neither a second hand emotion nor a sweet, old-fashioned notion.

Love is actually a battlefield designed to reshape us into the likeness of
the One who first loved us when we were not friends to him, but enemies.

God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

We love, not in a sentimental sense, but in the gutsy, costly sense,
because He first loved us.

We do not have the resources in ourselves to extend such selfless love.
We are resourced by another, by Jesus Himself.

Emerson once wrote,

“The blessing of old friends is that you can afford to be stupid with them.”

With Jesus, we can afford to be stupid with Him because He has taken
our shame away by moving our judgment day from the future to the past.

His death, burial & resurrection have established us as His beloved Bride,
as those of whom he is not ashamed to call his sisters & brothers.

We are & forever will be the cherished & kept daughters & sons of His Father,
who is also our Father.

We are not a consumer good to Jesus, therefore we are not consumed.

We are his forever family—fully known & fully loved; completely exposed
and never rejected.

We can befriend others because this Jesus is our Friend

adapted from Scott Sauls

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