Sunday, March 4, 2012
Part 4 - Loneliness and Companionship
As humans, we need companionship and fellowship – but even human companionship cannot always meet our deepest emotional needs. There are facets of our personality that cannot be completely understood by others. Often, there are secret and hidden things -- those things we cannot disclose to anyone -- and we need the fellowship in which we can connect on that deep emotional level. This is where God comes in.
Despite how many or few relationships a person may have, there is still a part that no one sees. Human companionship can only go so deep, and can never reach the depths of another's very soul, and certainly cannot minister to the spirit of man. Only God can do that. Furthermore, how many of us are actually honest with one others regarding who we are? The truth is, many of us hide. We build walls around our hearts, or fabricate an image to please others. If you hide behind a certain facade, the feeling of isolation increases...the real you is unseen, hidden, intangible. It is reasonable to conclude that deep inside, you are alone.
Only God knows our heart. Only He knows the deepest part of who we are, because He created us.
“It’s a lot worse to be lonely in the company of someone you supposedly love than it is to be lonely by yourself.” - Jenna Jameson
I believe that loneliness is more common than is acknowledged. When people think of loneliness, what typically comes to mind is solitude and isolation....but a person doesn't necessarily have to be alone to experience loneliness. Even those who have dynamic social lives -- who outwardly appear successful and together -- can experience deep feelings of loneliness, far below the surface.
A person can be in a room full of people (not just strangers, but friends), and still feel a disconnect with others – unloved, isolated, misunderstood. The persona that a person projects is not always the real person. For those desiring intimacy on the deepest levels, human relationships can fall short. A person can still feel emotionally isolated from others, and this causes a sense of loneliness. God can fill that loneliness because He is the only one who truly knows a man's heart, the deepest part that no one else can know.
How many people are completely comfortable in their own skin? From my own observations, very few. Not many people are completely open about who they are. Most people put on an act, for the approval of other people.
When I was married, I did not lack in friends or relationships. My husband was very outgoing, and his family and friends were my family and friends. Surrounded by people, I was rarely alone. I was involved in various social activities, and had this entire life filled with people. I had this whole social life going for myself, but inside, I felt disconnected from everyone – even my own husband. Internally, I was desperately lonely, but externally, I was whom I thought everybody wanted me to be. I carried around many hurts, but no way could I reveal them to anyone. I didn't know how. I was completely alone, and much of the time, I wanted to be.
Emotionally, I was isolated -- but on a deeper level, a spiritual level, I was vapid, vacant, destitute...and didn't even realize it. I went to several psychiatrists, but to no avail. It felt like an emotional coping mechanism, but provided me with few answers. What I really needed were spiritual answers, to help me fill the deep emptiness and longing....the loneliness that kept me from reaching out, the level of discomfort I felt around others.
I realize now that much of what troubled me was spiritual loneliness – a loneliness that is experienced by every man apart from God. I needed God to show me how to accept and love myself. We are very complex creatures – a trichotomy of body, soul, and spirit. We aren't just a pile of body parts and emotions, but we possess a spirit that needs fellowship, as well. Truly, the only one who can meet that need is God.
The Bible says that those who do not know God are spiritually dead. When God created us, He breathed His Spirit into us, that we may experience fellowship with Him. It was for this very reason that He created us. If we are without that fellowship, we are incomplete, and we drift through life, unsure of our purpose and identity.
Hebrews 4:12 says: For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Within this personal trichotomy, the soul and spirit are intertwined. In our own understanding, we cannot really discern where the soul stops, and the spirit starts – their dividing point. Even so, God can, because He knows and understands the thoughts and intents of the heart. When our spirit is awakened by the Holy Spirit, our mind and emotions are also involved. God's Spirit moves on our emotions, and we feel His presence....and when His Spirit pierces our spirit, our soul is also pierced.
When our spirit communes with God, so does our soul -- but if we have no spiritual connection with God, our soul simply operates on emotions, apart from the spirit. We simply react to the stimuli around us, and our own mental state. If we experience negative experiences and emotions, we protect our hearts by steering clear of any emotional experiences. God created us with emotions, and it is in the framework of a relationship with Him that He designed us to feel and react. This verse tells us that God's word is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. It acts as a judge, telling us why we do what we do, and feel what we feel. The Bible is full of wisdom and insight concerning the inner heart of man. It says that the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it? (Jer. 17:9)
A person who feel empty and alone, may try and cope by filling his life with relationships. When I was 21, I was faced with the reality of my mother's death. In my fear and dread of being left completely alone, I made the decision to marry my then-boyfriend. The problem was, I was immature, uncomfortable with intimacy, and had a lot of emotional issues....although I didn't take any of this into consideration. My main concern was filling the massive void of loneliness that existed on the inside. I took on the role as dutiful wife, and for the most part, I felt alone in my marriage. I had companionship, yet lacked love and intimacy, and my marriage was marred by loneliness.
If a person feels separated from others by his/her emotions, human companionship will not absolve the loneliness. It will only magnify it, and you cannot fathom why you feel so alone. Companionship without intimacy is a lonely place to be, and being separated from God makes it even worse. A person without God will always use human relationships to compensate for the void of spiritual loneliness. Should those relationships fail, the person will often try to cope in various unhealthy ways. God must be at the center of a person's life in order for him/her to experience healthy human relationships. Without God, no relationships will be fulfilling. Colossians 2:10 tells us that we are complete in Christ. If we are complete in Christ, we will not need human relationships to make us complete.
Sometimes we don't even know our own heart...especially if we are living, and trying to love, apart from God. God created Adam long before He created Eve. Scripture does not indicate that Adam was lonely or empty in the period preceding Eve's creation. On the contrary, he had divine fellowship with the God who created him and knew him even more than he knew himself. The word “alone” here simply means without human companionship. Adam was complete in God, but there was still that need for human companionship, not only for procreation, but also for intimacy. We are not told how long God waited after the creation of Adam to create Eve, but even so, there was a period of time when it was just Adam and God, and I doubt that Adam was lacking any sort of inward fulfillment. His fellowship with God most certainly fulfilled him. Eve was created, not so much to fill a void in Adam, but to fulfill a need.
Adam was created for fellowship with God; therefore, this lack of fellowship with God can leave a person empty and void. A person can have a dynamic social life, but no matter how full the social calendar, so many people are still so lonely. There is a saying about being in a crowd and still feeling lonely. A person can have a million friends, and still experience deep and abiding loneliness. None of those friends is able to understand the deepest part of him, therefore, there is no connection there. Only God can fill that loneliness, because only God knows the deepest needs of man. The Bible says that we don't even know our own heart – so when we try to fill our loneliness up with things or relationships that we think will satisfy, the result is frustration.