(By Wanda Stutzman)
“I was so busy with college. Every waking moment was spent studying or maintaining my life. Relationships were pretty much non-existent. I was lonely and wanted to invest in other people, but I simply did not have the time or energy. How could I connect in my stage of life? I started texting several friends in the morning before I left for class. I asked them how I could pray for them that day. I read their responses and then on the drive to class, I would intentionally use that time to pray for their specific needs. It wasn’t much, but it helped take my focus off of myself and do something for someone else.” -testimony from my friend
I believe what my friend did with her loneliness is key to combating it. It is so easy to focus on me and my needs and wonder why nobody notices them instead of asking God to show us the needs of others in our lonely season. There are so many people around us that we can invest in! Sometimes loneliness can be attributed to self-focus or not being open with others.
I remember as a young girl being told I had to talk to the new girl at church. After several attempts to visit and get to know her, and getting only the minimum answers to my questions, I gave up. We need to be able to engage and reciprocate the conversations or no one will enjoy talking to us. In other words, take an interest in other people. Get to know them by asking questions back to them, not just answering their questions. Have real conversations with people. Talk about more than the weather.
Loneliness should drive us to Jesus. He created us to be relational human beings and it is not His desire that we are lonely. A season of loneliness can actually be good for us, but God doesn’t want us to stay there. He wants us to invest and be part of a community because that produces growth in us and the people around us.
Something I often say to my girls is “Control your emotions, or they will control you”. That goes for every area of our lives. When we feel sad or lonely, we can feed those emotions and let them run rampant or we can control them by “taking every thought captive”. (II Cor. 10:5) We choose what we put into our mind. We choose the thoughts that are allowed to hang out in there.
The truth is that we all need each other. We need to have people in our lives who ‘tell us how it is’. When we are not in a community, we set ourselves up for a lot of difficulties. I mentioned the experiment with the rats last week in the email. Even stupid rodents need community. How much more do we, created in the image of God? We need to be having real, heart conversations with people. We need people to hold us accountable, people we can pray with and pray for, people who will call out sin in our lives, or encourage us. We need to invest in other people, because when we invest, we often get more than we give, and it grows our faith in the process.
If you’re not at a place like I just mentioned, ask yourself why. Look around and ask God who needs you in their lives? Who needs someone to invest in them? Pray about this. Jesus wants you to grow and become more like Him. He will honor your prayers.
As believers, we are all on the same team. We are headed in the same direction. We need cheerleaders, we need prayer warriors, we need each other.