Breaking the stronghold of loneliness

Once you allow loneliness a place in your life, it can color the way you see everything else — including your relationship with God.

Once you allow loneliness a place in your life, it can color the way you see everything else — including your relationship with God.

{Guest post: For more on this writer, see bio at end.}

I often feel as though all of my stories begin this way: When I was 11, I lost my mom unexpectedly …

But then again, so much of who I am started that weekend. I denied the effect losing her had on me for years and honestly didn’t even admit it to myself until I went to medical school and began to be faced with the topic of death on a daily basis.

Losing someone close to you at a young age has such a lasting impact because it takes years to even fully comprehend what you lost. The grief comes in layers, a fresh wound revealed at each milestone.

I grieved when my dad remarried. Not because he remarried, but because I was forced to finally accept that she was never coming back.
I grieved when I graduated high school and she couldn’t see the fruits of her labor and all those years she taught me and impressed upon me the value of education.
I grieved when I would come home from college and I couldn’t tell her all about what I was learning and experiencing.
And I grieve now, that I can’t share with her who I am today, tell her my desires for the future, and know her as an adult child has the opportunity to know their parents in a new and deep way.

And the impact went further than grief.

I was impressed from that moment on how fleeting life can be and how unimportant most of the things we tend to value in life are. I could never stand pointless small talk.  Relationships that were anything less than lasting and loyal seemed shallow. I had no use for parties or fighting to keep up with the latest trends. I valued meaning and I never felt like I fit in anywhere. (Of course, it didn’t help that I’ve always been a huge nerd and would rather talk about the latest topic in science than who’s on this season of “The Bachelor.”)

And somewhere along the way, I allowed loneliness a place in my life.

I long to get married but have yet to find my partner in crime. And I’ve had more than one experience of being left behind by friends I thought I could trust or who drifted apart due to unavoidable life circumstances. (That’s not to say I haven’t had wonderful people in my life.)

But once you allow loneliness a place in your life, it can color the way you see everything else.

You see someone drifting away and feel that pang of desperation to avoid another loss. You experience rejection and begin to feel less than, unimportant. It happens enough times and you begin to wonder if there’s something wrong with you and you’d rather hide than be alone with even yourself.

I learned to fill my free time with distractions rather than let my mind wander to the feelings that would arise in the silence. I cried out to God for a friend, for a mentor, for a future husband. When it didn’t happen, I fell further into the cave loneliness had created for me. It progressed to the point that I was afraid to even go before God. I felt lost and unworthy. Unclean. For almost a year, I let the stronghold of loneliness keep my relationship with Jesus distant. I went through the motions but feared entering His presence.

Until He came to me.

I was sitting in church, and the pastor was preaching on Hebrews 9. He was discussing the tabernacle and the many levels that were required for God’s people to access His presence prior to Jesus’ death.

“The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing.

This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings – external regulations applying until the time of the new order.

When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. …

For this reason, Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance – now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”

(Heb. 9:8-12, 15, NIV)

Prior to taking communion that day, the pastor challenged us to spend time being real in the presence of Jesus. He had made a way for us, a perfect way for us to enter directly into his presence without the imperfect ritual and ceremony of the old covenant.

So I did.

Tears filling my eyes, I confessed how consuming the feelings of loneliness had become and I asked God why after all this time he had not brought someone into my life to relieve this burden – the mentor, the partner, the friend.

His response? “It’s me.”

I was brought to my knees in that moment as I realized that I had been looking every way sideways for relief but had failed to look up. He had made a way for me to have that relationship with Him, and I had neglected it because I longed for imperfect relationships with those physically present. I let feeling ‘less than’ prevent me from entering the presence of He who is everything.

For me, loneliness entered my life when my mom died, like an unwanted shadow that I’ve never managed to permanently shake. For others, it may have been other losses, a harsh rejection, an unwanted move to a new city, depression, anxiety. If you can relate to this story, whatever the reason loneliness entered your life, never forget that He made a way. Enter into His presence. You are worthy. Not because of who you are, but because of who He is. It’s Jesus.

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About the Guest Writer

Callie Cheatham is a Texas A&M and Corps of Cadets graduate who loves to learn, travel, and dabbles in photography. She is now a third-year medical student and officer in the Air Force with plans to go into Family Medicine. Having learned the lesson many times over that you can never know what God has in store for you, she cannot wait to see what adventures lie ahead.

 

 

See all the Guest Posts from this Summer Series:

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Once you allow loneliness a place in your life, it can color the way you see everything else — including your relationship with God.

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3 Comments on “Breaking the stronghold of loneliness”

  1. Sweet Callie. You hit a nerve with your words. It was a nerve that needed to be hit, too. OUCH! What the enemy has meant for destruction, God is using for great good in your life. Thank you for being so transparent!!! Having prayed for you and your family for these eleven years, it’s wonderful to hear from you some of the answers to those prayers! Looking forward to hearing and watching all that God will continue to do in and through you!

  2. Callie, so proud of you and the godly woman you are and are becoming! I remember those days when your Mom passed all too well and I grieve with you that she wasn’t there for you and Ben in those special moments in your lives. Anita and I didn’t meet till our early to mid 30’s and so we know what it feels like to long for a life partner and it seemingly not be a part of God’s plan at the time. Jeremiah 29:11-12 always meant a lot to me during those days. We love you and look forward to seeing how God is gong to continue using you in the lives of others just as He has with this post!

  3. You have written so much truth here! The crazy thing is, a person can be in a room full of people and still feel that loneliness. But, as you reminded me, when we are fully aware of God’s presence, we can spend days with minimal human contact and not feel alone. Thank you for sharing.

You have something worth saying!