Thursday, May 21, 2009

Lonely or Alone?

Yesterday a friend asked me if I ever intend to marry again. Immediately I answered, “Absolutely I do.” The reason I answered that way yesterday is completely different than the reason I would have answered “Yes” 6 months ago. Six months ago my answer would have been based on the fact that I didn’t want to be alone. Not the case anymore. It was funny that he asked that, because I’d been thinking a lot about that lately and had already actually started putting my thought on paper (when I say paper I mean my Note app in my Blackberry).

A few weeks ago I heard something on the radio about being single and Christian and it started me thinking about my motivation to eventually remarry. That started me thinking about the difference between being lonely and being alone. You might be asking, “Is there a difference?” I think the answer is…100 times, YES!

I think the way I looked at my loneliness before was based on the void of companionship and intimacy created when my wife left. When that happened I secretly hoped that I would move on quickly to fill those voids she created. I started to realize that no matter how much you involve yourself with one person and no matter how many people you’re surrounded by, even if they are people that love you, you can still feel alone. I’ve seen that happen first hand to someone I loved very much and it is probably one of the saddest things I’ve ever witnessed. Slowly, I began to understand how important it is to have that one rock solid relationship before you develop any other. I began to discover what it actually meant to be consumed with pleasing and following Christ. I also began to understand the importance of transitioning from religion to relationship with regards to Christ.

I realized it is harder to feel lonely when you invite Christ to come in and you actually build a relationship with Him. I have a friend that has told me a few times that it’s kind of an unfair arrangement between us and God. He put it this way: We get all of God’s love and grace poured out on us and He (in the grand scheme of things) gets nothing. It amazes me that even though we have absolutely nothing to offer God, He still loves us, pursues us and wants every one of us to be saved. Our goal should be to be so consumed by Christ that you don't feel alone and you stop searching for that person to "complete you". There is only one person that can complete you, Jesus. When you get to that point of realization, the only validation you need comes from Jesus Himself.

This is not to say that God doesn’t desire us to have relationships. On the contrary, fellowship among believers is essential to our growth. Some may be called to singleness (for the record, I don’t hear God call me to that), but many of us aren’t. What we need to accept first is this: the first and most important relationship is the one between you and Christ. Without that, every other relationship is surface level strong. A relationship grounded and tested in Christ is unshakable. His is the ONLY relationship that is unwavering, unshakable, unbreakable and sustainable. All others are subject to fail. God has promised us repeatedly that He would never leave us. In Joshua 1:5 God said, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.” In Matthew 28:20 Jesus told His disciples, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” He is the only one that can MAKE and KEEP that promise.

So you might be thinking, “Ok, I have Christ. I’m definitely not ALONE, but I still feel LONELY at times.” Open your eyes. I think (and maybe I’m way off, but this is what God has done for me) when God spoke in Joshua 1:5 He didn’t mean He’d be with us exactly like He was with Moses. Moses got to see God as a burning bush, a pillar of smoke and fire, God’s glory on the mountain, and the corner of his robe. Jesus’ disciples got to actually be with Him. Even though Jesus ascended, He sent the Holy Spirit to be our Counselor and Comforter. Once Jesus fills that void in our heart, the spiritual loneliness, the deep longing for companionship is gone. But I also think He takes care of the human and emotional element also. That is where community comes in. I think our pillars of smoke and fire today is the community of believers that God surrounds us with. It is this community that God uses to keep us accountable and speak love into our lives. This community (or our friends and families) are part of the promise God made to never forsake us and Christ made to be with us always.

When you have Christ you won’t be or feel alone. He will fill your heart and surround you with people that will love you. He did for me anyway. I think back and don’t understand how I functioned for as long as I did without that relationship. I can’t imagine ever going back.

So, do I hope to re-marry? Yes. I hope to find that woman that God has for me, so I can share my successes and failures with, that I can partner in my ministry with, that I can laugh and cry with and that I can share my love and life with. But all that will be grounded in and modeled after the deep and meaningful relationship that I have and continue to build in Christ.

I do have to apologize. I had about a million things flying through my brain. Because of that, I feel like this blog was all over the place. Really like its four different topics smashed together. Hopefully you get the gist.

Consumed by Christ,
Bruce