My earliest memories involve feelings of loneliness and longing. Born with a highly sensitive personality, my little spirit was continually bombarded with all the feelings of life in our sin broken family. Even when I was too young to actually know and understand the facts of what was happening under our roof, I felt it. I sensed it.
Mama was busy with all of the needs and cares and work of having seven children. She didn’t have the time, nor perhaps the ability, to delve into the deeps of her own emotions, much less mine. Daddy, while perhaps a bit more in tune with my flights of fancy and imagination than my practical mama, found someone that took him away from mama and us kids.
The combination of my sensitive spirit and the secrets that lived in our house and in my little heart reinforced my feelings of isolation, loneliness and longing to be really heard, really seen, really known, really understood. I didn’t know who to turn to and so I’d lay in bed at night and talk to Jesus about it all. He was the one to whom I poured out all of my little girl worries, fears, longings, hopes and dreams.
Still, I always wished for a flesh and blood best friend, a bosom friend that I could tell anything and everything to. I had many good friends through my growing up years, but never one that was a confidant to me. So through my youth and into my teens and then on into college, Jesus was still the One I talked to about anything and everything.
I started dating my husband in my freshman year of college and as we got more serious I trusted him enough that I told him all of the things I’d never told anyone but Jesus. Once we got married, I thought it would always be like that moment. He would always be my willing listener, my eager comforter, my bosom friend and the cure for my perpetual loneliness and longing.
One year into our marriage and we were in the pastor’s office asking for marriage counseling. My husband wasn’t doing his job, in my opinion. He wasn’t meeting all of my needs. I still felt lonely and misunderstood. I was eager for our pastor to straighten him out, for him to tell my husband that he needed to do a better job of filling up my emptiness. Instead, the pastor turned to me and said, “If another human being could meet all of your needs, then you wouldn’t need Jesus.” Those words became life changing for me. Those words drove me back to my First Love, to my Bosom Friend, to the One Who had always been my Willing Listener and Eager Comforter.
I know now that loneliness was a gift from God that drove me to His heart. I have an intimacy in my relationship with God that I don’t think I would have had if I had found a bosom friend or soul mate who fully understood my complicated “feel all the feels deeply” personality. I know now that my emptiness was never meant to be filled by anyone but Him. I know now that God fully and clearly knows me and understands me and, praise Him, unwaveringly loves me.
“For now we are looking in a mirror that gives only a dim blurred reflection of reality as in a riddle or enigma, but then when perfection comes we shall see in reality and face to face! Now I know in part imperfectly, but then I shall know and understand fully and clearly, even in the same manner as I have been fully and clearly known and understood by God.”(1 Corinthians 13:12, AMPC)
A recent survey reveals that 46 percent of us struggle with loneliness. I imagine that the majority of those people, think the cure for to their loneliness and emptiness will be found in a friend or a spouse. I once thought the same thing. That’s a lot of pressure to put on another human being. May I encourage you to let your loneliness drive you to the heart of the One Who created you, delights in the uniqueness of who you are, and loves you more than anyone else ever could.
Elizabeth Stewart is a passionate follower of Jesus Christ, a pastor’s wife, mama, nana, Bible teacher and mentor. She and her husband have three beautiful daughters, three great sons-in-law, and seven of the most wonderful grandchildren in the whole world. Together, they pastor a great church in Vancouver, Washington. She is passionate about home and family and thinks that being a mama and nana is the best.
Elizabeth describes herself as having a quirky personality. Being almost equally left and right brained, she is both creative as well as analytical and methodical. She is deep and contemplative yet has a bizarre sense of humor. Elizabeth is a people person, who needs wide margins of peace, quiet and alone time. She blogs at Just Following Jesus, and you’ll also find her on Instagram and Twitter.
The Refined Series
Fire refines. First God, breaks our pride into tiny pieces. Then, He melts away our impurities in a crucible of affliction. Every fleck of fleshy fluff rises to the surface and is removed until we reveal His image.
This year, I want to stop fearing the fire and pray:
Lord, refine me through the flame.
For 2018, I asked God to give me a word to guide my year, and He whispered the word “Refine.” For 10 months, Bruce and I have been walking through the fire and trying to not resist the refining work He is doing in us.
I am a very slow learner, and recently it occurred to me I should step aside and create more space to listen and learn during this season. I long to sit down for a heart-to-heart chat with a wise friend who will remind me the fire has a grander purpose. Thankfully, I am blessed to know several women who’ve walked through the fire and emerged beautifully refined, and I’ve invited them to share their story here with the Wildfire Faith Community once a month.
God has promised that the fire will not consume us, but transform us.
Sign up today as a member of the Wildfire Faith Community and grab a copy of the Refined Manifesto our Faith Fuel Library.
If you are visiting from Elizabeth’s today,
welcome to my little space on the web!
Here you will find fuel for a wildfire faith to help you
- LOVE DEEP: Fervently extend God’s kindness and grace to pesky people.
- PRAY BIG: Go down fighting on your knees with fire in your bones.
- HOPE FULL: Stay tethered to a confident anticipation that keeps your heart ablaze.
- STAND STRONG: Rest courageously on God’s promises with red-hot resolve.
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