I got saved right before my 13th birthday. I loved laughing, and I still do. But, I carried this weight of loneliness around, even though I was surrounded with friends. There was a void in my heart, and I didn’t know how it was to be filled, but I longed for it to be made full. I was so young; I don’t really remember what I thought about God. I remember always believing God was there and He knew everything about me. I always believed the Bible was true and that there was Heaven and Hell. Furthermore, I knew that God sent his one and only Son to die for my sins so that we could have eternal life.
The thing was it wasn’t personal. I was young, and influenced by the pop culture of my day and my peers in school. The girls at school loved talking about boys they liked, and experimented with wearing make-up and wearing fashionable clothes. I felt so pressured to be like them, so I could fit in, and be liked. Everyone wants to be liked. Maybe that would fill the void my heart felt. But, I had voices in my head that would cause me to go to sleep in a depressed and lonely state. I wasn’t good enough, and no one liked me. My parents couldn’t afford to dress me in the latest name-brand clothing, nor was I allowed to wear make-up at that young of an age. What I believed was just because I couldn’t be like the other girls at school, I must be less than, and unloved.
So why would God be any different? He hates sin, and I knew I was doing things he didn’t approve, listening to ungodly music that screamed condemnation. Deep down, I always wanted to be accepted and loved, but I just didn’t have an understanding of what the love of God looked like for me.
At the end of my grade 7 year in school, I clearly remember telling a girl at school, I was going to come back different in September. Seriously, I look back at my 12 year old self and wonder, where in my mind did I think I had power to change anything? But I was 12 going on 30, apparently. Anyway, I had plans that I would work the summer and be able to buy fashionable clothes and make-up and lose some extra puberty pounds I gained. In hind-sight, I shake my head at the vanity I had in my heart. Little did I know what God had in mind about my change.
That summer, I was working beside my recently born-again cousin, and due to the dreaded turtle speed of that most glorious cucumber machine, we had A LOT of time to talk. Seeing her conversion stirred me to ask questions, and since she was quite a bit older than me, and I didn’t have any older sisters, I really looked up to her. At 12 years old, every girl wants an older sister. God really used that time to stir in my heart a desire to learn more about him. Slowly over the weeks as we worked together, God was softening my heart to his love through the life of my cousin, seeing how she had made his love personal to her and had deliverance in her life. She got me signed up to do a mail-in home bible study, and at the end of one of the first lessons, the Holy Spirit very clearly met me. I stared at the page, convicted of my sin, but also by his welcoming invitation. There was a simple question, will I accept Jesus today? In that moment the Holy Spirit showed me I had to make that choice. I knew this decision would be life changing for me. If I prayed and asked Jesus to save me, I wasn’t going to be the same person. I knew that it was a very real thing happening in my heart, and just simply knew this was God speaking. I finally, after pondering everything for a while, knelt on my ugly pink carpet, and asked Jesus to save me. There weren’t tears, or a heavy burden lifted, but a simple calming peace, that I knew I had made the right decision to live for Jesus, and be his.
My testimony of being born-again is a subtle one, but very real to me. Since I was so young, and didn’t have much of an evangelical background, the mail-in bible studies were what shaped my faith, and I learned to develop a habit of reading God’s word daily.
So going back to school that September, I was a very different person. No, I didn’t have name-brand clothing, or allowed to wear makeup. But I had peace that I knew I was saved and going to heaven. My change was Spiritual, and I never regretted it.
It didn’t take long for the loneliness to return. I was looking to my friends to accept me and like me, but because of my convictions of certain things, they pushed me away. I was an outcast. This continued into high school. By the time I was 15, I had almost no friends you could say. I grew sorrowful over the fact that I wasn’t loved by my peers and that they literally shut me out of their lives, and to this day, I still don’t have an answer to that. It seemed wherever I turned, people didn’t really want to be around me, or have me join in with them on their weekend outings. But during this time, the presence of God became very real. Since I had no friends, God was literally all I had and could count on. And I am so very glad I didn’t give up hope. I was thankful God provided family as well, who were believers and could shine light in certain areas of my life. So although I felt alone by my standards, I wasn’t actually alone at all.
God eventually brought some childhood friends back into my life. Ones that I didn’t go to school with, but had at some point or another been friends with in earlier years. The amazing thing is that these friends serve God and we still, to this day, enjoy fellowship with one another. (See, God knows what he is doing.)
As my friends and I got older, they started dating and eventually married. I entered my 20s single, but a clear calling from God to go to college. At this point in my life, I was feeling lonely again, watching many of my friends enter relationships and get married and myself just hurting over a recent heart break. Again, God met me in this lonely season. I had some friends who were still single, but my college homework kept me more isolated than normal, simply just due to the fact that I needed to study in order to pass with good grades. Although I knew this time apart was necessary for my school, I also became aware that God was again drawing me closer to himself in this lonely season. I graduated, started working, and am where I am today.
All this to say that I am clearly seeing God’s faithfulness in themany different seasons of my life. Even now, at the age of 30, the loneliness still continues at times. Singleness has definitely been a struggle for me and at times its felt like I’ll never be good enough for anyone. See, the enemy can’t ever come up with anything new. He is so limited! But, I am realizing that God is sufficient in all things, and his mercies are new EVERY DAY (Lamentations 3:23). My desire to be loved has always been there even as a young girl, and it is sourced in my Saviour and Friend, Jesus, who longs to show his love towards us, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) During one of my lowest lows, God very personally gave me Jeremiah 31:3, “ The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: Therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” What God was saying to me here was that before the foundations of the earth were laid, he loved me with an everlasting love; a love that cannot be measured, and never runs low or dry. His love always remains full and satiating.
As I continue to grow in my walk with God, loneliness is still present at times, yet I am learning now more than ever that my abiding in Christ is what gives me strength. He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), and that he will come near to us if we let him (James 4:8).
Loneliness has never been a fun time, but no matter who we are we will all face moments as such. They are defining moments in which God wants to show himself in a powerful way in our lives. I would encourage you that if you are struggling with loneliness, be assured that you are never alone. Isaiah said it perfectly, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10. He wants us to draw near to him and he delights to show us mercy (Micah 7:18). Remember Jeremiah 29:11, and cling to it, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” He knows what he is doing. God is good at being God.