Scripture: Isaiah 41:8-13
Key Verse: Isaiah 41:10a
During college, one of my friends stumbled upon a personality quiz called enneagram. She told me that it would help me to understand why I respond certain ways in various situations. (This is also the same friend that convinced me to take the love languages test and did an amazing job of supporting me after giving her my results.) So, I took it. The test labeled me as a type two enneagram with wing 3 attributes. Now for those of you who have never heard of this test type twos are known for their drive to connect the world and to be seen as helpful. Their biggest fears include being unwanted or unloved. This was spot on for me. I thrive most when I am helping others and I feel the worst when I don’t feel wanted or loved. As you can imagine, for myself and many other type twos around the world, loneliness puts us in a really bad place. Now, this isn’t to say feelings of loneliness aren’t hard for most people. But, I think, when your life is wrapped up in human connection, feeling alone can send you to a really dark place. However, today I have come with a word from God that will hopefully help us cope with feelings of loneliness. That’s right I said cope. This isn’t one of those “pray and watch it disappear overnight” devotionals. This is a devotional that will aim to give you practical steps to as you cope. It also serves as a reminder that God sees you, so you are never alone.
When I started talking to my therapist about the things I was learning about myself through the lens of my enneagram type, the first thing she told me was that she was proud of me. I was honestly shocked. But, she explained that the fact that I was willing to acknowledge the rationale behind my interactions would make me stronger and help me in my healing process with depression. That made me think that maybe I should think about the root of my loneliness. In order to cope with something, it can be helpful to figure out how you originally got to that space. This part may take a while because for many of us it can be painful. It may mean sitting and thinking about why past relationships (familial, friendships, romantic, etc) ended in a particular way. As you are doing that work, no matter where you are in the process, you can repeat the promise of God to yourself that He has not rejected you (v.9).
When you are doing this work, it is normal to feel even more alone. My therapist told me that making peace with the past is one way to move towards healing. However another way to move towards healing is to ground yourself in simple truths and affirmations. Verse 10 of Isaiah 41 reminds us that we do not have to fear because God is with us. This means that we don’t have to fear the emotions that this work brings up for us. We don’t have to fear people hurting us again. And most importantly we don’t have to fear being alone. Even if you are alone physically, we have the Holy Spirit who is our comforter (John 14:16-18). It is almost like loneliness is the mind’s way of playing tricks on us.
Last but not least, one of my new favorite ways to cope with loneliness, courtesy of my wise mentor Dr. Ken England, is to immerse myself into hobbies. I will watch my favorite shows alone and laugh and give commentary aloud as if someone is there. I have been doing research to find hobbies to do alone and in various locations. I know many people who go out to eat alone or to the movies alone to treat themselves to a good time. I have not gotten to that level of comfort with myself, but maybe one day I will. Dr.England also gave me two plants to care for, which has definitely helped me tap into that type two desire. It is easy to forget that self love is the greatest love after loving God of course. The Bible tells us that we must love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39). So if we don’t treat ourselves with compassion and nurture our growth it will be very difficult to support those around us.
God loves you. He sees you. You do not have to fear if you are in a lonely season. I know that it is hard. I am living through it and fighting it daily. But, I have learned that we can find comfort in serving a God that will always help us (v.13). Today I want to challenge you to cling to God and then treat yourself. Take note of how you feel because the journey has just begun.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for this day. Thank you for never leaving me or giving up on me. Lord, as I learn to cope with my loneliness help me to cling to you. Help me to take risks and learn to love myself apart from others. I need you God and I can’t make it without you. As I begin my journey towards renewal and peace, I aim to put you first at every turn. Let your will be done. In Jesus’ name, amen.