Thursday, November 08, 2012
The itch of loneliness
I really need people. I was made to. We all were.
And yet we were also made to never quite fit in. Our souls are heaven bound, and so they never feel completely cozy here on earth. It's a paradox, isn't it? Though we struggle to feel truly known, we seek connection every which way.
That's why you're sitting here reading this.
That's why I'm sitting here typing this.
We all have the itch of loneliness. It's a vague mixture of healthy desires to connect and fears of isolation that push us out of our nests. We desperately long to be a part of a community, to fellowship. I suspect the only people who don't crave at least some level of connection are those who have been badly injured in a relationship that was supposed to be safe. Some of us have had bonds to others that were severed by sin, and it's left scarring.
But what I realized today is that I have a constant drive to reach out, to connect to others. This drive is so strong that many of my choices are governed by it.
Stop for a second and think about this. What is the real reason you spend so much time looking at your phone. Or on Facebook. Or online. Really. What is the reason? What need are you meeting?
For me, certainly I spend a good deal of time online or on my phone to get information: the weather, our calendar, directions, etc. But today I faced, and then accepted, the fact that I spend the most time on those types of media because I'm scratching that itch. I feel lonely, and the attempt at connection, even in the tiniest way, soothes me a little.
Loneliness can become an outright sickness of the heart particularly for moms, I've noticed. Have you? There's something about constantly meeting the needs of small children that leaves us feeling extra lonely, starving for some connection with other grown ups. And so we are driven to all the things that promise a semblance of relationship. Our phones, Facebook, even junky TV shows offer us an illusion of adult interaction. And I'm certainly not saying all those things are bad. I simply want us to look at what drives us to those things.
We need people. God created us to live in community. However, our heart's longing for connection can have us seeking it so fervently that we forget our closest friend.
You know how sometimes when you scratch an itch, it only makes that spot itch more? I think using technology to scratch the itch of loneliness can be like that. It never fully satisfies our longing, and often just makes us more unsatisfied.
The truest salve for our lonely itch is Jesus. (You knew I was going to say that, didn't you? You're so smart.) And sometimes I forget that. I feel that itch, and I go straight to my phone. Or I check my emails. Or I text somebody.
Well, connecting with my Maker, the Lover of my Soul, and my best friend is where I should go first. Maybe not in a 45 minute intense prayer session. Just a quick check in. Just as quickly as I may check Instagram. Something like, "Hey God. I'm missing you. I'm missing my true home. Be with me right now; know my heart, because I really need a friend." That's all.
Let's call it "refreshing" with God. Like when I hit the "refresh" button on my Instagram feed to get the latest posted information. It's simple.
What if you tried that today?
When you get that itch, try refreshing with Jesus first. See if it helps you feel less alone, more known, and more at peace. I'm going to try it. Instagram and Facebook can wait. Really, they won't miss me at all.
But sometimes Jesus misses me. And I miss Him. He wants to take all my itchiness away. And yours.
And while I'm here, thank you for being a part of this community. We need each other, and I'm grateful to be in fellowship with you.
One day, it will all be face to face. I can only imagine how awesome that will be.
Labels: stuff that hurts