One of the biggest struggles for me when I’m lonely is allowing my thoughts and my emotions to wander. I used to believe I had no control over my emotions, but eventually I began to see how closely-knitted my thoughts and my emotions are and how Satan loves to wreak havoc in that area of my life.
Recently I attended my nephew’s birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. (That alone should result in extra jewels in my Heavenly crown in, y’all.) I arrived a few minutes late, and my brother had already ordered pizza and drinks for his family. Another family was there also and had ordered enough food for their family. That left me to fend for myself.
Trying to decide whether to buy an entire pizza for one person or to uncomplicate things and order a salad nearly brought me to tears. Suddenly I felt like I didn’t belong, like everyone else had someone to care for him or her but me. It was ridiculous, I know, but it’s how I felt. That it even bothered me to the extent that it did was a sign that something was up.
It took a few minutes and the Spirit’s prompting to remind me to think on that which is true, pure, and lovely: I knew my brother’s heart. He had never given me any reason to doubt his love for me. In fact, my brothers and their families are exceptionally good about making sure I never feel left out when we’re all together.
As I stood at the counter trying to make my decision, my brother walked up and apologized for ordering before I got there. In the chaos of 6 kids, an arcade, and a big (creepy) mouse, he hadn’t had time to gather his thoughts to even consider that he was leaving me out. My emotional world returned to its proper balance and I was able to focus on more important issues like skeeball domination.
I snapped out of this funk pretty quickly, but there are countless other times I let situations snowball into an all-out assault on my contentment. If I’m not careful, I could spend countless hours considering how everything in my life points to the fact that I’m oh so alone and no one could possibly ever understand my plight unless they, too, have walked a long, arduous road of singleness.
(And just in case the sarcasm is lost here, this post is not about depression or any other mental health struggles. I’m solely speaking to those of us who have a flair for the dramatic and who can host a dang good pity party, if given the opportunity.)
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8, ESV)
Paul’s directive to the Philippians isn’t some sort of poetic verse about beauty, yet I’ve spent the better part of my life treating it as if it were simply nice words to warm my heart.
There are times in our lives when the Lord strips away every single thing so all we can possibly do is press harder into Him. Jeremiah, Elijah, Paul—there are many Biblical examples of God using loneliness for His glory.
But if we’re honest, many of us just want to wallow in our unmet desires because, well, it’s much easier to say we can’t control our emotions. And I guess that is mildly true because in and of myself, I have little control over my emotions.
However, through Christ, I can call upon the Holy Spirit who empowers me to take my thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) and to replace them with ones that are pure and true, like Paul exhorts.
Most of us do a pretty good job of identifying the enemy’s craftiness in the “big” things of life, but we remain completely deceived in the “little” areas—the ones that plague us daily and cause us to believe that we’re just wired that way and can’t be changed.
Either the Gospel has the power to transform all of me or none of me.
I’m all in.
Photo credit: zilverbat