July 21, 2013

My Old Nemesis

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:34 pm by Broken & Brave

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.”

Psalm 62:5

As many of you already know I have recently finished writing a book about my journey (not yet published), my faith and all the incredible and miraculous tales of God in his faithfulness. I share many stories in transparent detail in this book, which was both easy and hard to do. I am an extremely guarded and private person by nature. I have always been that way, somewhat because of my temperament and disposition and somewhat because it is safe.

The Lord continues to “wreck” me for his Glory on a daily basis and has been doing so for close to twenty years now. God has taught me that if He is to truly use my voice then I must be willing to be transparent with people. Now, I have always been a very genuine person, this is not about being fake or phony, just private. I don’t say anything I don’t believe, just to please another. I am a horrible liar, so I try to keep it real, I just chose to refrain from saying anything for most of my life. Honestly, on a lot of levels I think this may be worse than any of the other options I mentioned. You can imagine what a stretch it is for me to share so candidly in my blogs and facebook/twitter posts, when I had little or actually, I had NO interest ever blogging or opening social media accounts. God had to deal with my heart and show me how he desired to use these vehicles as a microphone for the message of hope he has placed in my heart.

Hope.

Such a little word, but the very essence of human existence is hinged on it. God continues to show me how he wants me to share with even deeper intimacy the details of my heart, as to impart a measure of his hope through me into you. The story I am about to share is one of my deepest and lifelong struggles that God used, as only he can, to infuse my heart with a deep connection to Him, His hope and the Peace and Comfort I access daily. I share because I know God wants me to, but I will not lie and tell you I didn’t weep over it. It is a struggle that only a few people know of, yet I somehow know that many people face as well…

I have a life long nemesis called loneliness. I have battled an intense feeling of being alone my entire life. My first vivid memory of that moment the feeling washed over me, complete void, alone, was when I was about 4 years old. I was sitting in the family room on the sofa of our home. I lived in Long Beach, California with my family (Dad, Mom and baby brother). The weather is gorgeous in Long Beach, so it’s hard to recall the time of year, for it is always nice there. I remember it was a typical sunny day with comfortable climate. The front door was open and only a screen door shielded my clear view of the front yard. I loved our home in Long Beach and to this day have the warmest memories of life there. This house had lots of big windows. My room alone had three windows all lined up. Gorgeous. There is something beautiful about a house with lots of natural lighting and this home had it in abundance.

The screen door view from the front door was typical. The television was on and I was watching cartoons. No one else was in the room with me. I know my Mom was home, but do not recall what she was doing. Maybe she was cleaning or making dinner in the kitchen but whatever she was doing, she wasn’t in the same room with me and I couldn’t hear her. It was quiet, aside from the noise of the television. As I sat there I had the feeling come, deep and uncomfortable, uncontrollable feeling of isolation. A void. Alone. I recall looking away from the television to the front door. Light from outdoors poured into the house across the entry floor, but not a person in sight. I was so little and had no way of understanding what I was feeling, I just felt it and it was overwhelming. My eyes panned the room and my ears listened for evidence of another, I wanted desperately to not be alone. I wanted the feeling to go away. It is the kind of loneliness that has fear attached to it. If you have never felt alone this way, I am grateful for you, but I believe it is a feeling or awareness that is all to real for many people. People like me.

It is a feeling that is hard to explain. Everyone has felt alone at some point in time, but this is a loneliness that has a certain intensity to it that is beyond explaining. The best way I can describe it is a deep hole in my heart that cannot be filled. Utter void. When I reflect back on my childhood and youth I’d say that loneliness was always present, like a dull ache, but it had bouts of intensity that usually only lasted a day or two maximum then it would ease away. Sometimes the intense feeling of alone would only last an hour or even five minutes. It was never the same. The only certainty is that it was always there, I could feel it.

Loneliness is a strange thing because you don’t have to be alone to experience it. In fact, many people may be surprised to know I have had a battle with it. My entire life I can get along with people well, I had friends. I knew a lot of people and even today, I know a lot of people from all walks of life. In high school I’d say I was well liked and was probably considered popular. I was involved in clubs and I was a cheerleader all through high school, captain of my squad senior year. People would tell me I was nice. I could blend into any clique on campus, but never really felt like I belonged to any of them. I felt like I was a friend to everyone, but friends with no one. Loneliness.

Because of this life long battle with loneliness I had a tremendous fear of being alone. I hated being alone and avoided it, yet at the same time I was very aloof and kept to myself. This is because loneliness usually travels with his close companion, “rejection”. Some of my deepest feelings of loneliness as a child came with rejection from my closest female friends. See how Satan works? The rejection from the friend would hurt to a level that I would isolate myself a bit and not allow anyone in close to my heart which would in turn feed the spirit of loneliness. I hated being alone, yet I would only allow people in so deep, which only reinforced the power of loneliness in my life.

As I got older God began to pull me in close to his heart and he taught me that I am never alone. He began to nurture my heart and stroke my hair as though he were saying, “There, there my sweet one, I am with you and will never let you be alone.” I began to learn that wherever I went God was there too. It was in my time reading the Bible and praying, meditating of Him, who He is and who I am in Him, that he healed the wounds of rejection and I began to not be so afraid to allow people in. I was introduced to Derek Prince Ministries and I read Derek’s biography and identified with him on so many levels. In a lot of ways I felt his life was my life. He, too, battled loneliness since his young childhood. God really used his testimony to help me understand to a deeper level my own struggle. Frequently when you struggle with something for most of your life it can be hard to see clearly because the struggle is such a part of you. Hearing someone else testify to it can make one more objective about what is happening and the subjective is removed.

Loneliness was still a battle, but I was learning to recognize the onset and deflect it. My relationship with God grew to such a place that I would experience extreme comfort, peace and closeness to God that equaled or even surpassed the extremity of my bouts of loneliness. There is a knowing within myself that there is a deep, the deepest, part of me is reserved for God alone. Even my husband can testify to you that he does not have all of me, for I am God’s first and my loyalty to him (God) is unyielding. I learned a developed a strategy to ward off the loneliness when it came…worship. I would press in to God. I learned to replace, little by little, all the things I tried to fill myself with, to avoid loneliness, with God. Things like television. Early in my married life my husband was gone a lot, all but six weekends our first six months married. I would leave the television on so I didn’t feel alone. If I was home, the TV was on. I didn’t even have to be watching it. I used it as background noise. This was one of the first things God corrected. I had to learn to not need the TV on to feel comfortable alone.

Prior to being married I always had a boyfriend. I guess to avoid being alone. I didn’t make it a goal to always have a boyfriend, I just did. Just before meeting John I ended a year plus long relationship because I decided I wanted to give God my whole heart and if I were to have a relationship it was going to be from God (This guy I dated was great. Everything I thought I wanted when creating the “ideal” person in your mind. He was the kind of handsome that was “man pretty”.  He was incredibly humble. He was from a prominent family, educated and extremely musical. I “felt” emotionally, socially and intellectually satisfied in this relationship, but still I would be with him and experience that alone feeling. I did not have spiritual wholeness because first off, he wasn’t a Christian. Second, I can’t be satisfied by placing hope in a person, it must be in God! I had yet to draw truly close to God when I began dating him but I knew I could never let myself marry him no matter how much I thought I loved him. So, I ended it.)

I had begun to press into God with my every circumstance of life. I cleared out all of the “clutter” and got serious about my courtship with God.  What is it to “press in” to God? It is to search for him. Let us say you have a friend or family member you need to speak with urgently and are trying to get a hold of them. You call their home phone. Next you call the cell phone. You text. You email. You search high and low, all places and avenues you can think of until you get a hold of them. You don’t give up. You need to speak to them urgently…I mean now. This is how we must seek after God. Too many people casually look for God and when nothing happens they say, “huh, nothing? I don’t get this worship and fellowship with God thing.” They do not get it because they need to push in. Now, sometimes the push isn’t necessary, God just shows up! This is my favorite and I confess I am very spoiled this way. God just shows up to fellowship with my soul continually. I at times maybe take it for granted. I don’t want to take God for granted. I want to seek him with all that is within me.

I feel his favor dispense itself all over me. Too much for me alone to contain, so it spills over onto others as well (are we not called to be filled not only with the Holy Spirit, but filled to overflowing?). Despite how far I have come and how close I know my heart to be to God, to this day I still contend with that old nemesis. It may be that it is my thorn, sort of a check and balance to keep me pressing in and depending on God rather than myself? I have hope to believe that there will be a day that I am totally free and this old nemesis that wants to pierce me with an intense feeling of lonely will be ancient history, never to plague me again. Free, indeed.

God has placed a lot of hope in me. I am a person full of faith for the miraculous and impossible. I lean on my spiritual eyes not my physical eyes (though I must contend with my natural eyes daily). I like to refer to myself as a “night vision specialist” full of belief to the unseen promises of God that are not evident in the tangible. We serve a God of hope who never disappoints and is capable of filling any void in your heart that is either empty or filled with things that don’t truly satisfy. I want to be a living, breathing example and conduit of hope, infusing into others quickly what has taken me nearly twenty years to learn. With God’s help, this will happen.

Don’t lose hope. You are on the right track. We serve a God of hope. If you battle loneliness or intense feelings of being alone, be comforted to know that when you place your hope in God and focus your mind on him, then you are never alone. Go to him with perseverance and make your request known to God (Philippians 4:6-7).

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

He will show himself faithful and to be a God of Comfort. I cherish my trials, not for the trial itself, but I am aware of this:

Because I am familiar with the intense sting of loneliness I am also aware of the intense blessing of Comfort. His comfort is better able to flow through me to comfort others (as I know I am called to do) because I have a compassion and empathy that flows from understanding.

Do not be afraid to believe your life could be different or could change. Your future is inside of you…waiting to be unleashed.

“We should not let our fears hold us back from pursuing our hopes.” JFK

~Nicole

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