Have you ever found yourself in a cave? Not a real physical cave, but a cave of despair, despondency, and loneliness. Where the darkness seems to just swallow you up and everything seems to be closing in around you? Where you have an unexplainable ache that resonates in your chest…a dull, constant feeling that follows you around all day long. Sometimes even taking your breath away. There could be a crowd full of people surrounding you, you could be married, single, have a house full of kids, or be the most popular person on social media and yet still feel the deep pain of being lonely.
I remember like it was yesterday being that person. About 8 years ago, I was abandoned and left with five young kids to raise. Thankfully, my parents took us in. My dad and mom were incredible human beings. My dad became a fill-in father, provider and protector for two years while we lived there, adding so much value to all of us.
But tragically, he fell out of our attic and died within 24 hrs from a brain bleed on my parent’s 48th wedding anniversary. He had sold the house just a few days before in hopes to find a better floor plan. My mom instantly became a widow and was immobilized wondering how were we going to survive and where were we all going to live.
God, WHY? This is too much for me to handle. I am husbandless, fatherless, and now a homeless mother of five children! What am I going to do?
I knew I wasn’t really “on the street” homeless, but at that moment I felt like I had nobody to turn to, nowhere to go and nowhere to live.
I remember driving around my neighborhood in such agony, crying and banging on my steering wheel. I could barely breathe. A taunting relentless fear and hopelessness gripped me stronger than anything I had ever felt before. It was the first time in my life when I felt I needed something tangible, a drug, alcohol to get drunk, a man to embrace me, whatever and whomever to numb me. I didn’t care anymore. I just wanted the pain to go away. I felt stuck in the valley of the shadow of death—the death of my dream of being married for life, the death of my dad and the only Godly male role model that we all had. And the death of having the comfort and security of a home to live in. All this added to the fearful thought of being forced to take care of five young kids completely on my own was more than I could bear. At that moment, the luring temptation to run away from God was fiercely strong.
I was at a crossroads. I could give in to the thought of somehow escaping my pain and run far away from everything and everyone. Or I could face it head-on. Loneliness was probably the hardest to overcome. I couldn’t seem to get over the deep ache of not having a tangible hug, a listening ear, or Godly advice from a man, a physical human who I knew loved and supported me. Whenever I would see couples together and even fathers and daughters together it was so tormenting, making me feel very lonely and sad.
Do you know why I felt lonely? Because I didn’t fully understand the reality of God’s presence in my life. I couldn’t grasp the fact that God is literally with me all the time. I began to realize after studying God’s Word and reading a few books that there was a big difference between feeling lonely and being alone.
Loneliness is a state of mind. It is a complex and usually unpleasant emotional response. It can make you fearful, anxious and hopeless. Being alone is a physical state of being. When you’re alone you’re forced to realize all the things you don’t have, sure, but you’re also forced to realize all the things about yourself that you didn’t know. Being alone is taking the time to really think about who you are, what your passion is, what your wounds are, and why you are even on this earth.
Loneliness will kill you. Being alone will make you come alive. Embracing your alone time is a chosen power. It can reveal yourself to yourself.
Some books and practices teach that you can be alone with yourself without God. But I have found the opposite to be true. When I am alone without God, a deep loneliness and hopelessness engulf me.
I loved what my pastor would say when I was a little girl, “Learn to get alone until you’re not alone anymore.” I didn’t realize how profound that statement was until I was faced with real loneliness. Do you know the more alone that I get with myself, while I empty every negative thought and feeling out of me and surrender it all to Him, is when I am most aware of God’s presence? This is so baffling to me because chaos, fear, sadness, suffering, and loneliness could be consuming me, but His presence gives me such an unexplainable comfort, peace and an inner knowing that everything is going to be OK.
Hey folks, our problems arise when we choose to be lonely, instead of putting our trust in the reality of His presence! God is real. He is alive. The Bible is true. He is not some pretend infinite object. Get to know Him and all that He is. His comforting presence can be with you all day long.
I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5b ESV)
My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. (Exodus 33:14 ESV)
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your Presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Psalm 16:11 NIV)
When you are alone, you can choose to be lonely or you can be happy, content and at peace in God’s presence. It is a powerful presence that no man, no drug and no thing could ever replace. The most incredible thing is, the more I am in His presence the more healed and whole I become. I realize how unique and special I really am. And miraculously, I no longer feel lonely.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe wholeheartedly in marriage, community, deep friendships and that we all need each other. But If we could really learn to be alone, we would all become the unique, whole person He has called each one of us to be. And we would also learn to love better and connect deeper with others in the most profound way. In fact, I believe there wouldn’t be any more divorces, marriage problems or even suicides, ever!
Do you know that God wants us all to learn to be alone whether we are married or not? How freeing and refreshing it would be if married people got their deepest needs met first from God. What a huge burden would be lifted from our spouses who seem to always be trying to fix our problems. And what an awesome joy it would be to have two married, godly, sexy, whole, unique, not needy companions on the same team, walking alongside each other, celebrating each other’s uniqueness, all the while fulfilling the call of God in each other’s lives. Wow! I think there would be a
revival in America.
As an unmarried person, how freeing it would be to not need a husband or wife but to be so whole and complete in who they are that they can choose whether or not they would want to get married. Yet while being unmarried, they would still be the unique, unashamed, special person He so longs for them to be!
Today, I can tell you that learning to be alone has been the reason that my children and I have been able to survive and thrive over the years. It hasn’t always been easy but He has been a good father to us.
True happiness and true love can only be obtained by knowing God. He will not take your happiness away.
So my question to you today is, what will you choose?
I would like to encourage you all, married or not, to embrace and enjoy “being alone.” Turn off the radio, the TV, social media, or whatever it is that is keeping you from facing the real YOU. Allow God’s presence to fill you, heal you and change you so you can truly become the unique, whole, special person He has called you to be.
Erica Marie Foster has a passion for encouraging mothers. Through her transparent writing, speaking and coaching, she boldly shares her fierce love for Jesus and her children. She uses the Bible and real life stories to help mothers live with faith, freedom and purity so that they will embrace the call to love and raise their children to know God. Erica resides in Ohio, and is a single mother to 5 children. In her free time she loves to write, sing, spend time with her family, play sports and be outside enjoying God’s creation.
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