Loneliness has reared it’s ugly head once again in my life. I’m not sure if its the fact that the skies have been completely gray for the past week and a half or if it’s hit me once again that I have absolutely no friends in the small town where I live. In all likelihood, it’s probably both.
So what am I supposed to do? God created me with an outgoing, highly social personality. He knows that I groove on situations that involve a lot of people and A LOT of talking. And that’s the reason that I can’t seem to figure out what I’m doing in this rinky dink town where everyone seems to know who I am, yet no one wants to know me.
Before my husband left his last position to plant this church five years ago, I had a great group of friends. I was always meeting someone for lunch or coffee, or catching a movie, or hanging out at a park. I really miss all that. Since we moved here, my social calendar has completely evaporated and it’s been quite depressing. The only time my phones rings is if someone from the church wants to ask me a question about something that they could’ve read about in the bulletin the previous Sunday but didn’t. Actually, I’ve really struggled with feeling sad and empty and forgotten.
Last year I even tried taking an anti- depressant thinking that if I’m going to be here, in this horrible little town, that I should at least be kind to myself and medicate the sorrow away. However, that was a complete disaster. After filling the first prescription, I became a mommy zombie and could barely function. Too afraid to try another prescribed drug, I opted for a natural supplement alternative that has really seemed to help me balance the stress and keep myself together.
But honestly, I don’t know how much longer I can take all of this. Thankfully, things aren’t “bad” in the church as they once were. I don’t feel the hurt by church people like I did even six months ago. Instead, I feel remarkably stronger in the Lord. Yet in spite of all of that, I still feel like a square peg in a round hole.
I see my husband struggling more and more each week just to put a sermon together, when all of the years I’ve known him, preaching has been a delight. Lately, he’s even let some things slide in dealing with people in the church; which is totally unlike him. It appears to me that he’s really not motivated to do anything as far as the church anymore. And I know he feels guilty for feeling that way. I see how the repeated phone calls, emails, and appointments from and with church members have seemingly drained all his joy for the Lord’s work. He, too, is very outgoing and social and I know he misses having friends to hang with.
I imagine that a lot of ministry couples experience this. So, what’s the answer? How do we survive? I think a key is found in Psalm 100. Check it out:
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
I truly believe that the key to getting through the tough, lonely, depressing times can be found in resolving to live a joy-filled life in spite of our circumstances. Well, since we’re Christians, that should be easy, right? No, not really. So, how does one go from living in the doldrums to basking in the joy of Christ? According to the psalmist, we’re called to rejoice, to serve the Lord with gladness and to come before Him with singing. That type of mindset is choosing to meditate on God’s goodness and faithfulness to us in the present and the past and can help bring about a positive, necessary outlook. When I choose to focus on my lack of friends and frustration in the ministry, I find myself getting more miserable with each passing minute. Yet, when I choose instead to listen to praise music or hymns on my iPod, it has an uplifting effect, that will literally get me singing and can turn around even the worst of days. I believe with everything in me that He is the Lord who made us, calls us to Himself and bestows His goodness on us. So maybe the answer to finding joy in the difficult times is following the advice of Psalm 100. Rejoice, serve with gladness, and give Him thanks and praise because He is good, even on the days when life isn’t.
Lord, please teach me to rejoice in You, especially on the gray, downer days. Help me to find my strength and song by dwelling on Your incredible faithfulness in my life; that You would even contend with a sinner such as me. Make my heart, to sing Your praises not only in my words but in my feelings and actions. Praise to You, Oh Lord. In Christ's name, Amen.