Monday, January 30, 2012

it’s not the alone, it’s the lonely.

I reconnected with my friend, Mary, for lunch a few days ago.  It was delightful.  She is a dear friend with a delightful personality, fun stories, and has depth of insight and faith.  It’d been awhile, so we caught one another up on our lives.  We shared the joys and the struggles of being two awesome, single women.   We paused for a moment and she said something profound.  “Ya know, I can handle being alone just fine.  It’s the lonely.  The lonely is what is difficult.”

She's so right.

There aren’t too many times that I get lonely.  I do fear it, though, now that I live on my own again.  It’s one of those lies that the enemy really tries to attack me with.  “You’re alone and always will be.”

Friday, I woke up with the same high fever I took to bed with me.   I rolled out of bed and went to the clinic, hoping it was just strep throat and would be dealt with by a few minutes with a doctor and antibiotics from the pharmacy a few isles away.  The PA looked concerned after seeing my 103 temperature and seeing that I couldn’t seem to grasp a deep breath.

She sat down and looked me in the eye.  “You have a really high fever and I’m concerned you have pneumonia.  I’m going to send you to an urgent care to get a chest x-ray.”  She continued on with how she’d call ahead for me and told me she just wouldn’t feel comfortable sending me home without getting checked somewhere else.  She printed out directions for me and sent me on my way.

I walked out to the car in shock.  I was scared.  I’d only known old people or really sick people that got pneumonia.  Some of them even died from it.   Then it happened.  The lonely set in.  “I have to go to this scary doctor and get x-rays by myself.   I don’t feel well.  What if I hear his directions incorrectly?   What if I have to go to the hospital?  I’ll be there alone.  Even if I don’t, I’m going to be home by myself for a few days.  My mom is 600 miles away.  I hate doing this by myself!”

Well, a few days later, I now know a few things that maybe we both can learn a little bit from.

1.        Being lonely is terrible.  It is not the way we were intended to be.  God designed us to love and serve one another.  We weren’t designed to fly solo.  Think of shut-ins in your community, people who live alone, moms who spend long days with young children.  Be someone who invites others to come to your house or invites yourself to theirs.  Let God use you to love the lonely. 

 2.     I am not alone.  Neither are you.  In times like these, or even just regular days when the imagination gets going a little too quickly, it’s really easy to let the enemy trick us into believing we are.  You are not alone.  This is a promise that God has made to you over and over again in Scripture. 

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  Deuteronomy 31:8

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
   Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
   if I make my bed in the depths,[a] you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
   if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
   your right hand will hold me fast.  Psalm 139:7-10

We train our hearts with God’s truth so that it trusts His promises instead of our feelings.  You are not alone. 

3.     Stop being lonely.  I hate it when I catch myself saying “I’m getting used to being alone.”   I get really frustrated with myself when I realize I’ve thrown a huge pity party for myself, but still think to invite no one.  What I’m getting at is, if you’re lonely, reach out to someone.  I know there are people I could’ve called that would’ve come with me.  I’m too prideful to “inconvenience them.”  Guess what?  People usually don't mind being inconvenienced to help a friend.  I’m embarrassed that I’m not strong enough to take care of myself and all of this on my own, but guess what?  I’m not.  So, lonely people out there, let me hit you with something hard.  Ask for help.  Tell someone you’re lonely.  Let someone love you.  You aren't a bother or a chore.  Fight your fear and invite someone in to the messy parts of your life.  They can help with the clean up and I guarantee it won’t feel nearly as lonely once you do.  Life is so much better lived that way—in messy, real, beautiful, loving, chaotic community.

So last night a dear friend, Tabitha, asked me what she could do to help and instead of saying, “oh, nothing.  I’m fine.”  I told her.  I would love meals and company.  Today, she and two of her kids came over.  They raced up and down my hallway as she made me food that will make me healthy again.  My house was loud and filled with coloring pages and crayon marks and I loved it.  It was crazy, awesome love (and really good food, too).  Great medicine for my soul.

Because really, we’re all sick with something.  We might as well get honest about it and ask for help.  Things aren’t so lonely that way.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

waiting in faith.

I love being in Nicaragua.  No matter the location, people are very interesting to me.  This is especially true here in Nicaragua.

There's a woman named Rosa Laura.  I spent some time with her last year.  She is a strong woman of the Lord.  She captures what it means to pray without ceasing.  She lives in huge faith.  We visited her on Sunday afternoon at her home.  I was giddy to see her again and catch some of her contagious strength in faith.

She told us three stories.  All three were about waiting.

The first..
Rosa Laura told us that her son had a dream 3 nights before we were visiting her.  He told Rosa Laura that he never had dreams, but he had one that a group of missionaries would be coming to their house soon.  She laughed when we walked in the door and said that she'd been expecting us and was overjoyed that we were finally there.  She said she was glad we would be coming because she'd been sick and needed some encouragement and company.  Talk about a welcome!  When she'd heard this dream from her son, she wondered if they'd be missionaries that she'd met before or new ones.  She told us it was a delight to see some she knew and meet some for the first time.  God had told her we were coming.  She was waiting for us.

The second...
Rosa Laura told us about a time not long ago that her husband was out of work.  She told him he must have faith in God's provision and trust that He would provide work.  He told Rosa Laura it was nearly impossible because they had so little to live on.  She told him "I have a lot of faith.  Faith enough for both of us.  God is going to provide."  She began praying when she couldn't sleep one night.  She said her prayers were around 4am.  She prayed in faith and waited for God to answer.  The wait was short.  By 6:30am that morning, a man had arrived at their house saying that he needed employees for his business and wanted to give Rosa Laura's husband a job.  She waited in faith for God to give a job.

The third...
A few months ago, Rosa Laura's son came to her and said that he was hungry.  She didn't have food to give him.  They were having a hard time while her husband was out of work.  She had to deal with a mother's worst nightmare--being unable to provide for your children.  She pleaded and prayed that morning.  She told God that she knew He was good and would provide.  She told God that she trusted Him.  She praised and worshiped Him even in this desperate time.  That afternoon, a woman arrived at the door asking if someone named "Rosa" lived there.  The woman said that earlier that day she was washing clothes and she heard God's voice say, "stop washing clothes, go get food from your store and take it to a woman named Rosa."  She did that very thing.  That afternoon, she carried a large tray of food to Rosa's house.  Her family could eat for another day or two.  Her eyes were filled with joyous tears as she told us the story.  She said "I knew He would provide.  I have faith.  God is good."  She waited for God to provide nourishment.

This woman isn't passive.  She prays incessantly.  She waits believing that what she asks for will come.  It's amazing how often it does.  It makes me wonder, when I wait, am I having faith in God's provision?  Do I actually believe in His promises to provide?  Just some food for thought...and a whole lot of faith from a woman who inspires me to believe wholeheartedly.  It's beautiful.

I pray God grants you stories in your life right now of His provisionf or those who wait in faith.  I pray that your faith would also be strengthened in hearing them, so that you may also wait in faith, knowing that God is good.