Thursday, September 14, 2017

Alone

What does it mean to be alone?  This is a lesson I am just learning - at almost 50 years old. 

I have spent my life with people - serving people, working with people, in relationship with people, helping people, learning from people - yes, my life has been spent with people. 

There have been times of loneliness throughout the years.  I remember times in high school and college when I felt like I was alone.  Sometimes even in a crowd of people I felt alone.  It was a feeling that I did not like then - and I still do not like today.  It seemed that these times of "alone-ness" were short lived, and I quickly moved back into the world with fervor.

But over the past few months, I have experienced a loneliness that is gut wrenching.  It is quiet, yet it screams at me.  It is solemn, yet full of extreme pain.  It is constant.  So what is the difference?  How is it that this era of loneliness is causing so much more difficulty?

Here is what I am learning.

There is a loneliness that is a result of missing contact with people.  It could be just a break in connection locally, or it could be that you are far from the person(s) with whom you want to connect.  It could be a quieting of your soul when all around you is chaos.  When you feel like you are the only one who sees the chaos and you have no power to make it stop.  It could be a positional loneliness that comes from being away from people - especially the people you want to be with.  This loneliness is hard - but typically is short lived - as you reconnect with the people you miss, or you build relationships with new people who (for a period) take the place of the ones you are missing.

There is a deeper loneliness that comes when you are excluded from something/someone.  For example, people at work plan an activity, but you are not included, or your friends decide to do something and somehow you are not invited.  Being on the outside - even if unintentionally - causes us to ponder why it was that we were not invited.  It makes us think that there is something wrong with us - something ugly that others do not want to be around - even if for just a short time.  As a part of any group, whenever one is left out - for any reason - this monster of deeper loneliness raises its head.

There is a loneliness of heart when you feel like no one in the world understands what you are going through.  When you feel like you cannot tell anyone what is going on and if you did, they would not understand.  When you think that the difficulties of life are exclusively yours - no one would be able to comprehend what you are dealing with, nor could they empathize with you.  This is a much darker loneliness of heart.

But there is a loneliness that tears your heart out and stomps on it.  It is the rejection of people that you love, who, for whatever reason (valid or not), have decided that you are not worth the effort to move toward.  You have crossed the threshold of being wanted/valued/desired, and now you are discarded and excluded from relationship.  You are there - but you are not there.  You are looked at, but you are not seen.  You say something, but you are not heard - and what is heard is not accepted as valid because it comes from you.  You used to have a position of friendship, but that has been reclaimed, and now you are a stranger.  You are alone at the deepest level - alone and rejected.

Here is what I know.

My Savior experienced all of these forms of loneliness on my behalf.  He was the creator of the universe - yet rejected by His own creation.  He had an infinite and eternal connection with His Father (and the Spirit), but for my sake, He was considered "sin" and therefore was prohibited from relationship with His Father.  He knew loneliness that I cannot comprehend - and He chose it.

As I experience loneliness in my life - typically it is not a choice (sometimes it is the result of my choices - but not the intended consequence).  I would chose connection, belonging, intimacy, relationship - I would not chose to be alone. Yet Christ did - for me!

When loneliness comes - and right now, it is all over me - I must turn my eyes to the one who experienced the same feelings and difficulties, and did it perfectly. He entrusted His life to His Father who is sovereign over all.  So that is what I must do as well.

God help me to not turn inward and feel sorry for myself.  God help me not to turn outward and try to fill the void of loneliness with other things.  God help me to turn to You and find my true satisfaction, connection, intimacy in a genuine and real relationship with you.  You have never failed me - and I know that even in my loneliness you are doing something amazing.  Help me to see with Your eyes, hear with Your ears, love others with Your strength, and move through this with joy.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

FOCUS



As I look into the heavens,
I see beauty up above,
I see power from a Mighty Hand,
I see a God of Love.

I look down to the earth below,
And see the beauty there,
I see a Master Planner’s work,
And know that He must care.

Then I look inside and see,
My heart of hurt and pain,
I see the failures of my life,
And sadness then I gain.

I see a proud and selfish man,
Who cared for none but him,
Who hurt the others that he loved,
And found himself in sin.

I see a broken wanderer,
That wants to fix the past ,
But the depth of hurt was much too deep,
He is learning that, at last.

I look at the heart of this broken man,
That longs to love and be loved,
And wonder why he is so alone,
When he has a Father above.

So I turn my gaze back to heaven
And talk to the God who loves me,
And remind myself of His wonderful gift,
That He gave me at Calvary.

I think of the righteousness He's given,
To someone I know doesn’t deserve,
And respond with a heart of thanksgiving,
And seek with my life just to serve.

I know that my Father in heaven,
And the Spirit that now lives in me,
Is moving within all my moments,
To make me what He wants me to be.

So today I will rest in His loving arms,
That He stretched on the cross for my sin,
And glory in His salvation,
And know in the end I will win.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Untitled



Food tastes like plastic,
Colors lost their hue,
The world is losing wonder,
Because it seems I’m losing you.

I get up in the morning,
Wishing for a sunny day,
Hope as I would for brighter things,
The sun just goes away.

The aching that my heart now feels,
Goes deep into my bone,
I’ve known hurt and pain in life,
But I’ve never been alone.

I now know hurt deep in my soul,
Like none I’ve ever known,
I wish my heart of beating flesh,
Could somehow turn to stone.

I guess I’ve learned I’ve caused such pain,
In ignorance and pride,
I wish I could undo the past,
Believe me, I have tried.

But now I walk through life alone,
With pain and much regret,
The road I’ve paved with selfishness,
I wish you could forget.

I cannot say a single word
That undoes what’s been done,
I cannot do enough good things,
That clears the path we’ve run.

I’ve hurt you and pushed you aside,
But you walked through all of it,
And now it seems it is my turn,
To spend time in the pit.

I know you are not trying to,
Tear apart my hurting heart,
I think that you a reeling still,
From the pain I did impart.

So I will eat the plastic food,
And walk in colors grey,
And wish again for joy to come,
And take the dark away.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Walking - Day 12



Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into His presence with singing! Know that the LORD, He is God! It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name! For the LORD is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations.



Oh, the earth cannot help but proclaim the greatness of our God.  Very naturally (pun intended), the earth calls out the creativity and majesty of the creator God.  Without effort, the birds and animals point us to the heavens.  Without doing any work, the rocks, and trees, and waterfalls, direct our attention to a designer.  The world sings the praises of an amazing artist by causing us to look closely in awe and wonder.

It has been 12 days of walking now, and every day is different, and every day is sweeter.  The slow pace, the pausing for reflection, the focus on God and His glory have all been wonderful for me.  Today was no different, but again I was joined by my lovely wife. 

We went out to dinner at the CafĂ© on the Corner (atop Lookout Mountain) and then took a short drive to the parking area for Glen Falls.  We had never been there before – and it was not disappointing.  We walked down the half mile trail to the small pool and the falls that fed it.  The sounds of the waterfalls, the birds, and the wind through the trees made our stay there very enjoyable.

We eventually found a spot and made it our resting area.  We stayed for about 30 minutes or so, but we really did not want to leave.

Psalm 100 says, “Give thanks to Him; bless His name! For the LORD is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations.”  It is so easy to do this when you are sitting at a waterfall, resting with the one you love.  It is so easy to be reminded of His enduring love and faithfulness when things seem like they cannot get any better – when life is “good”.

I was reminded of Steven Curtis Chapman’s song, “The Mountain” while I was there.  I would have loved to stay in that moment for the rest of my life, but we both knew that we needed to head back to “real life”.  God is always good – in the valley, in the pain, in the heartache, in the difficulties of life…  But the mountain experiences remind us of His Goodness!

God, thank you for your faithfulness and love, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to see it on the mountain.  Help me to hold your hand tightly as I enter the valleys of life.