The Gift of Loneliness

Monday Night Football was on the TV. The pizza box was empty. My coconut flavored La Croix was open but barely touched. The night was fairly young and my sight was set on a half dozen box of Krispy Kreme glazed donuts. Yep. The binge eating frenzy was in full effect and there was no stopping it now. My stomach said I was full, but my heart said I was empty. 

Dang, those donuts were good.

*VIBRATING TEXT NOTIFICATION*

Annnnnnndddd, the witty, flirtatious banter ensues with a guy I’m messaging with on Bumble – the latest and greatest dating app. *sigh* Yeah, he’s cute and kind of charming, but I’m sure he’ll fizzle out just like the dozens of others before him. I give this one another 48 hours max, but – hey, at least it makes me feel like I’m an active player in the dating game.

There, I sat in the aftermath of my binge, bracing for the mental beat down I would eventually give myself. This was the usual pattern. Binge —-> beatdown ——> determine not to do it again ——-> repeat.

I waited…. and waited…but this time the self-degrading thoughts didn’t come.

Silence.

Emptiness.

Numbness.

Well, this can’t be good. Am I so mad at myself that I can’t even speak to myself?!

Then I heard it…

The Voice: You’re lonely.
Me: No, I’m not. I still have my family.
The Voice: You’re in a season of loneliness.
Me: Nooooo, I have incredible friends here and back home.
The Voice: It’s okay to feel lonely. I’m here.
Me: Okay, okay, yes… I feel a little lonely when I think about being 34 and single, but then I quickly remind myself I’d rather be single than with the wrong person!
The Voice: Lacey, you can have the best family, friends, job, be happily single or married and STILL be lonely. The binging and need for male attention are just symptoms of the greater issue… loneliness. You’re seeking people and food to fill a need that only I can.
Me: *eats the last donut*

The Voice was right. I had been lonely. Terribly lonely.

Life hadn’t gone how I planned. I was in a new city. I missed my mom. I missed my family. I was heartbroken from a guy who said he loved me and then ghosted me out of nowhere. And, now here I was feeding the emptiness in my heart with food and flattery.

However, that lonely night, among the literal trash from of my latest binge, the conversation with The Voice gave me a new perspective. I could either wallow in my loneliness or reframe it to be a gift from God. Thankfully, I chose the latter.

I made the decision to use it as an opportunity to…

Make the most of my time.
I realized boredom was a breeding ground for loneliness, so I decided to create the action. I went to concerts. I read a lot of books. I started a blog. I explored the city. I joined a small group at church. I ate with good people. I took group classes at a gym and became friends with my classmates.

Minimize my pain.
I had to quit replaying painful events in my mind. I also made a conscious decision to forgive the people who hurt me. I stopped building walls of bitterness and start building bridges of forgiveness.

Confront my fear of love, vulnerability, and intimacy. Head on.
Here I was lonely, yet scared to death to let anyone in! I had to be vulnerable with God so He could heal my heart. Once I did, it allowed me to experience Him in the sweetest, most intimate way, which then allowed me to be vulnerable with trusted friends again.

Quit focusing on myself and emphasize the needs of others.
If someone needed a hot meal, I signed up to bring them one. If a friend needed help in their garden, I was there pulling weeds right there with them. If someone needed a house or dog sitter, I’d make myself available. If they needed an actor in an Easter production, I volunteered.

God draws close to those who are lonely and provides for them. – Psalm 68:5

It’s been a little while since my journey through that season of loneliness. While I’m thankful to be on the other side, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I grew in more ways than I ever thought possible. In fact, I’m convinced God used it to set me up to know Him better than I ever have before.

Of course, I can’t say I don’t ever have momentary lonely feelings (don’t we all?), but I can say I’ve recognized my triggers.

• I know if I’m aimlessly scrolling social media or dating apps late at night, that’s a trigger.
• I know if I’m replaying hurt from my past, that’s a trigger.
• I know if I’m not making time with God a priority, that’s a trigger.

So, let me ask you… Do you know what your triggers are?

Just as The Voice said to me, let me remind you… it’s okay to be lonely. He’ll use it for your good.

That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. – Romans 8:28

The God-shaped hole in our hearts will never be completely satisfied with anything less than Him. No man, no woman, no situation, no amount in your bank account, and even Krispy Kreme donuts will do the trick. They’ll always leave us wanting more. We are insatiable creatures. That’s why Jesus referred to Himself as living water in John 4:14… In Him, we will never thirst again. We no longer have to use people, sex or things to fill our hearts to satisfaction. He is the living water our hearts long for!

Could a season of loneliness possibly be the exact thing we need to reconcile our lonely hearts with our need for Him? It sure was for me.

So, to all the lonely hearts out there, be encouraged…It’s just a season. It will pass. I can’t promise it will be brief. But, I can promise it’s a gift wrapped in grace fit to carry you through safely to the other side. Only when you accept it as His goodness and embrace it with gratitude – Then, and only then will you sense His closeness and see HE is truly is everything you need.

God’s given you everything you need for this season in your life. If you don’t have it yet, you don’t need it. – Pastor Steven Furtick

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