You know what sucks?
Realizing you are depressed.
Realizing you are incredibly lonely.
Realizing that no matter what you do there isn’t really anything that you can do about it.
I think I’ve always been somewhat lonely and depressed my whole life. That isn’t to say that I haven’t and don’t have some very good friends, because I do, but they have always been conveniently just out of reach. I have always been an extrovert, I have always loved people, and would be completely happy having a social engagement every night of the week, and yet I have always found myself at the fringes of various social circles rather than at their center…. And it hurts. Now it needs to be said that the communities that I find myself to be a part of have been nothing if not welcoming, and in no way do I place any blame upon friends for not being inclusive or any such nonsense, but ‘circumstance’ has always seemed to be my enemy.
I think everyone craves intimate connection, I am no exception, sometimes I think I crave it more than others but that’s impossible to support. But I think its more than connection we are after… it’s a desire to be wanted. That’s what we seek.
See I am an initiator. I call people to hang out, but sometimes it gets old. I can’t tell you the number of times I have had the mental conversation with myself that says “Ben, you don’t have friends, and you can prove it. If you just stop calling people, inviting yourself over to things, and trying to find some friend that has time in their busy schedule for you, you will simply fade from their memories.” Because I didn’t want to just hang out, I wanted to know that my friends desired my presence, and so I would ‘test’ them. Now granted that test is totally manipulative and unfair, because people are busy, have lives, families, kids and all sorts of things… But that didn’t stop me.
I find myself in an interesting season.
I am 27 and am nearing the end of my twenties. I have the privilege of having some amazing local friends who I admire, respect, and whose company I genuinely enjoy… And they all have families and children. Young children. While I am still very single (which certainly doesn’t help the loneliness but that’s not the point of this) and with very little interest in having kids of my own…
Then alternatively I have gone back to school and am finishing my undergraduate degree after procrastinating for as long as humanly possible. Which means that the people who I interact with in my daily school life are easily 5-9 years younger than me, and at a very different stage of life than me.
This unique combination provides me with a lot of alone time, which I would prefer I didn’t have. I have friends that while I enjoy hanging out with them, I can’t pretend to be a part of the college social circles there is just too much difference there, and then I have friends who are busy raising families.
And of course, continually moving every couple of years doesn’t help the intimate friendship building process.
Do you know that feeling?
It is really hard admitting to yourself that you’re depressed. It is even harder doing so to the whole world… Especially when you have built a reputation for yourself as a carefree happy-go-lucky kind of person that’s always down to hang out. But eventually that reputation becomes a prison.
I went to the movies by myself today, and I have done it many times over the past few months on Friday or Saturday nights with seemingly nothing to do and nobody who I felt would be interested, or able to spontaneously go with me. And I was kind of throwing myself a pity party, until I realized that it’s all a bunch of Bull.
Loneliness is a lie. It is right up there with self-pity. Now you are probably reading this and are thinking ‘there’s definitely some self-pity in what you’ve written so far Ben, and you just said you were lonely so… either you’re lying or a hypocrite…’ And while yes, I am probably guilty of self-pity in a reasonable measure, and am still lonely, I still think it’s a lie and a choice and here’s why…
We are born with this hole… and we have had it since the Fall. This feeling of inexplicable isolation that can be absolutely overwhelming and paralyzing at times can be panic inducing.
The history of humanity can be summarized in people’s attempting to figure out how to fill that hole, and ill leave that to other people to philosophize about, but when I, or anyone, stop for a minute that terror lurks there.
My mind squirm about trying to find ways to make it go away. Anything will do really, even if it’s something destructive. Over the years there have been various addictions, porn, video games, travel, ministry, relationships, Facebook, YouTube, and the bottomless pit that is the internet.
No matter how much I fill my time with those things though I have always come up short, dissatisfied, and still lonely. Even when doing the ‘right’ things, when I would lay in bed awake at night I’d feel that loneliness.
Recently someone close to me was telling me about how no matter what our philosophy of ‘the one’ is, – (in reference to spouses). No single individual will ever be fully equipped to handle our emotional needs and desire for intimacy, regardless of how amazing they are, or how complementary their personality is to yours, and that’s purposeful…
We are designed to be lonely, nothing will ever quite fully fill it no matter how much we squirm, it’ll all only be a half measure at best…
Because there is only one that satisfies… and He is a perfect satisfaction, but he is Jealous for that affection.
He wants to be the desire of our hearts on the most practical level. He wants to be the ultimate source of pleasure and satisfaction we could ever have. He is the living water that we drink of and never thirst again…
But we don’t drink. We squirm. We stay lonely.
People talk a lot about theology, and someone I really love and admire once told me Theology can be summed up in two statements: What we think about God, and what we think God think’s about us. This forms our basis for every interaction we have, both with him and with everything/everyone around us. If we have a theology for him being loving and kind, that will affect how we interact with him, If we have a theology of him being distant, cold, and disapproving we probably will tend to not think He wants to be around us.
But Jesus has designed us with one thing in mind: To be perfectly loved, and reciprocate that perfect love, in the most intimate way possible.
The first commandment, “Love the lord your God with all your Heart, Soul, Mind, and strength.” Doesn’t really leave much wiggle room, but we still manage to squirm. We think ‘well love in this context is, serve, be devoted to, obey, (insert whatever emotionally dry activity here you want) But what if he actually means LOVE? Like a sickening annoying couple that just started dating, and can’t stop thinking about each other, texting each other, and the whole “no you hang up first” thing.
You know what I am talking about.
The Lord reminded me tonight, that that’s how he thinks about me all of the time… That eager anticipation, waiting for my call, my text, my acknowledgement of his affection, and the indomitable hope that I’ll return it. He is Giddy with the idea of spending time with me. And yet I Squirm. I’m still lonely.
I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me. Song of Solomon 7:10
But I am beginning to understand. He is my perfect companion, and I am His. I was designed before the foundation of the world for this exact role. It is my reason for existence, my calling, my destiny, my ‘Chief End’. It makes sense that I am lonely when I am not tapping into that. I was specifically designed with this one relationship in mind, Well duh, everything and everyone else falls short.
So why am I not happy all the time? Perfectly fulfilled, not lonely, not depressed, and overflowing with joy everlasting? I don’t know, I hope to be… I want to be… I know that I will be, but here is the kicker,
The lack that I feel in this season, the isolation, the loneliness, It shows me just how big the space He wants to fill is, and I am starting to have glimpses… When I push past the Squirm. His peace fills me, and stills my racing mind. It stops me from endlessly searching my contact list, for hours on end, wondering who I can call to hang out… He is calling me, and the phone has been ringing off the hook, I have just been distracted by all the noise.
He is always calling. I am just really bad at listening, and hopefully soon there will come a point where He is the instinctive first response.
And if you find yourself with nothing to do… hit us up for a movie or something.
God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing. Psalm 68:6