This has been a lonely year. There, I said it. I think I had a hard time admitting that, lest others think I was asking for attention or being needy. Maybe I am imposing my thoughts on others. Maybe I equate lonely with loner, which has a negative connotation. But for whatever reason, I have had a hard time sharing my heart with others, especially all the yuckiness that has been brewing in my heart. And so I haven't really said much. For some reason, it is easier to write what I'm feeling than it is to say it to another person.
Just the other day, I ran across a post from Sarah Clarkson's blog, Thoroughly Alive. Although she is probably half my age, I have come to respect and appreciate her sage insights. (Sarah is the author of Journeys of Faithfulness, which I reviewed last year. I highly recommend it, by the way!) Anyways, she shared about how her ideals and dreams have often led her down lonesome roads, something that I have experienced as well. As homeschoolers, we feel a bit of that already. With the adoption, I have felt it even more. I have often asked God why He has me walking on these unbeaten paths where no one else in my immediate circle seems to walk. I have often felt like the girl from the other side of the tracks who stands watching from the sidelines at the "in crowd" and wishing someone would invite her in. In my heart, I have asked God, "Why couldn't You have made me 'normal'?"
At times, I would, as Sarah writes in her post, just lift up my chin and convinced myself that I'm okay, that I can find ways to be happy alone. But at the same time, I too have found a chill creeping into my heart, a jadedness towards humanity. They wouldn't understand anyway, I would tell myself. I found that as I hunkered down to make the best of the chaos of my life this year, alone, another voice---and not a very nice one either---took its place. You are alone. This is your own doing, you know. If you didn't adopt, you wouldn't be in this place. You'd be just like everyone else. You might actually have friends.
And I believed it.
The more I listened to these voices, the tougher and colder in heart I became. But with it came an anger and bitterness that ate away at all that God had been doing in me in the past few years. I even felt abandoned by God, or worse yet, that He was punishing me.
Ironically, the very thing that God used to get me out of this pit was people. That, coupled with the courage to be as honest as possible, has been His tool for reforming my cynical heart. Interestingly, I found that far from being disinterested, there were people who truly cared about---and not only that, really heard---what was going on in my broken heart.
Not only that, as I began to share deeply with others and even (gasp!) cry, I found that I wasn't the only one with burdens I couldn't carry alone. Maybe others didn't bear the weight I was carrying, but they had loads of their own: an unexpected diagnosis of cancer in a loved one, marital problems, difficulty with a child, or the weight of caring for an aging parent. But like Sarah, I found that when I made space for others instead of hiding away alone, and daring to share what was in my heart, I found the healing and help I really needed. Not that they could change my circumstances, but simply by enfolding me, God has used others to remind me that I am not alone. I am beginning to learn that even though sharing my heart and letting others in to the secret places of my soul is risky, not doing so is giving in to fear.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in our affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."--2 Corinthians 1:3, 4 (ESV)
But even more importantly, I am reminded that we all have a burden we carry. When I look up from my own little world, I am reminded that as I pause to listen to others, I can also help to ease their burdens. Ironically, that act puts my life in perspective, takes my mind off myself, and reminds me of the consoling ministry of Christ. Yes, God is our ultimate Refuge, but He uses us to minister His grace to one another. I pray that God will help me to not only to share my heart but give others a safe space to share theirs, for that is how community is built.
I love how Sarah ends her post:
"I will not allow the fearful voice of my own heart to dictate a solitude God never intended. I realize now how much of my turn to loneliness was fear. My heart stayed in her own little house because she was afraid another would not have her. Now, I will send her abroad. I will pack her a basket of kindness and send her in search of another heart, roaming the fields in search of a last crumb of love. I would rather she ache with desire than turn to the starvation of silence again. I will send her out until she comes home with another and they sit down together to feast."
Amen, sister. May we go out with courage to invite others to join in the feast that we have in Jesus, and in doing so, help each other move towards the healing and wholeness He offers in abundance to us.
How has God used community and communion to help you grow and heal?
Linked to Fellowship Fridays.