Last night I was feeling overwhelmed by loneliness, I had to remind myself: “I don’t have to live by my feelings.” This is just a feeling, and it too shall pass. I am not defined by this feeling. I do not have to make choices based on this feeling (aka, going crazy in my head). It is just a feeling, a natural part of life, and it will not last forever. And then I started asking: “What’s the treasure in this darkness?”
I escaped New York just in time, fleeing to the relative warmth and snow-less-ness (at least for now) of Ohio. Now I’m sitting here in the lobby of my hotel, because I can’t bear to be cooped up alone another minute, or I might go crazy.
It doesn’t seem to matter that I spoke this morning and will be speaking again tonight. It doesn’t matter that I’m an introvert who craves time alone to think and process. I’m also an introvert who needs to be with a few people I love, otherwise I don’t feel whole.
So I’m sitting here in a new situation:
Diamond sparkling on my finger, distracting me with its glinting, even as I feel so utterly alone.
It’s the craziest thing.
I guess in the back of my mind, I always thought a relationship like the one I have — where you’ve promised forever to each other, where I get to love and be loved so beautifully — would somehow take away the loneliness. As much as I knew in my head that it wouldn’t, I guess I still thought in my heart that it would.
I still do think it will, if I’m being honest. And it does help, it definitely does. But it doesn’t cure anything.
I’ve forgotten that loneliness is something you stare in the face and choose to walk through, because nothing and no one can take it away permanently. It’s part of the human experience, and its the experience of those walking through this earth looking for a homeland, created for somewhere greater than here.
Last night I was feeling overwhelmed by the darkness and loneliness. (Part of it, seriously, is just how dark hotel rooms are; I know they’re meant to be relaxing, but to me it’s just depressing; I need light!! Isn’t that called photosynthesis or something? The human version, anyway.) I called my mom to have her pray for me, but then found myself remembering back to when I felt lonely and sad almost every day, and couldn’t seem to shake it. It trapped me. And I had to remind myself:
“I don’t have to live by my feelings.”
This is just a feeling, and it too shall pass.
- I am not defined by this feeling.
- I do not have to make choices based on this feeling (aka, going crazy in my head).
- It is just a feeling, a natural part of life, and it will not last forever.
That started helping. It was definitely like a battle in my mind, but it started helping. And then I started asking:
“What’s the treasure in this darkness?”
Because if God could deliver me from something, but chooses not to, I have to ask — why? What does He want to teach me? What treasure is buried in this darkness?
A lady named Bonny Hoeflein spoke at my Rochester church Thursday night (you can hear her message here), sharing how jewels are shown on dark backgrounds in jewelry stores, because then the jewels shine all the brighter. She said anytime we’re in a dark season, we should be looking for the jewel that’s hidden there, the treasure God wants us to take away from that season.
I don’t yet have an answer to that question, but I have an inkling that it may have to do with the Lord drawing me closer to Himself yet again, without any distractions.
And then, of course, there’s the practical side.
I had to know myself enough, to know what to do when I started feeling lonely again today: Go where there’s more light (seriously hotels need more lights in the rooms), and where I’m not alone. Which is why I’m in my hotel lobby right now. Which is also why I love Starbucks so much when I’m on the road. (I’m so serious. It’s not just the coffee.)
If you’re in a season of life where you just feel down or sad or alone, I want to encourage you as well with these thoughts:
- This is just a feeling, and it too will pass.
- It does not have to determine the course of our life or identity.
- And then start asking, “Lord, what is the treasure you have hidden for me to find in this darkness?”
Side Note: It’s important to talk with a medical professional (and, if you’re a teen, a trusted adult) about persisting feelings like this. There may be medical treatments that can biologically help you.