I feel invisible. No matter how much I try, I just feel misunderstood-an outsider. It's as if no one hears me. Do they even care? These are the thoughts that pour from a heart sullied by loneliness.
Loneliness is determined by the perceived quality with which we are known. Contrary to common belief, it cannot be undone by simply increasing the number of persons with whom we relate or the number of interactions we have with those who are already in our lives. In order to tackle the giant of loneliness we must treat with both the quality of our relationships, as well as the factors influencing how we perceive them.
Quality over Quantity
If anyone had reason to experience loneliness it was Jesus: "He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him." (John 1:10, ESV). This Jesus who was consistently bombarded by the blind, the lame and the sick. This Jesus who struggled to eke out space and time to pray alone, because of hankering crowds. This Jesus was surrounded by that which He had made, served faithfully and knew intimately, but that did not know Him: a recipe for loneliness. Yet, Jesus manages to ride above the prepared wave of loneliness His circumstances would have prescribed because of His quality relationship with the Father.
Jesus was seen and accepted by the Father. We read in Luke 3:21 - 22 about the baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist. After praying, Jesus is alighted by a visible and physical embodiment of the Holy Spirit. (Luke 3: 21). The Holy Spirit, who came and remained with Him. (John 1:32 - 34). Accompanying this visible display was the voice of the Father: "You are My Son, My Beloved, in You I am well-pleased and delighted!” (Luke 3:22, AMP). The Father saw Jesus and publicly declared that He was in fact His Son- the Son in whom He was pleased. As daughters of the Most High God, we carry the same status as Jesus. (Romans 8:12 - 17). We are seen and accepted by His Father, who is also our Father. (John 20:17 and Romans 8:12 - 17). It is the Father who chooses us to come to safety in Jesus Christ. (John 6:44). And as we dwell in His Son, His declaration is the same: "My Beloved, in you I am well-pleased and delighted!"(Luke 3:22, AMP).
Jesus was known by the Father. In the parable of the Good Shepherd and His Sheep we see Jesus clearly defining the nature of the relationship between Himself (the true Shepherd) and those who are His (the sheep). (John 10:1 - 21). He declares that, even as there is perfect knowledge between Himself and the Father, so there is perfect knowledge between Himself and His sheep. (John 10:15). We are known, sisters. We are known intimately. There is no hair or thought that escapes His notice. (Psalm 139). You are perfectly known.
Jesus was heard by the Father. As His Son, He enjoyed frequent and intimate communion with His Father. He continuously walked and talked with Him. And He did so with solid and unwavering expectation that He would be heard. (John 11:42). In Jesus Christ, this too is our privilege. We are able to walk and talk with our Father, whether in high or low tide. (Hebrews 4:14 - 16).
Jesus was cared for by the Father. I am not quite sure how it happens, but we manage to reduce the greatest love story ever told into a mere contractual agreement. In our remembering and retelling, we cast out the passion that fueled the entire work-His great love. (John 3:16). Jesus was loved by the Father. (John 15:9). And the same love visited by the Father to the Son is given to us-fully. (John 15:9 and Romans 5:5). Beloved, you are dearly loved. (Ephesians 5:1).
God has set a high standard, which only He can keep. This is not a defect of the system-it is the point. Let's entrust ourselves to God and, in so doing, make room to enter into life-giving relationship with others. Relationship, where we have room to embrace grace together; where we can grow in seeing, accepting, knowing, hearing and caring.
Beloved, we pray that you come to have a life characterized by life-giving relationships. We've put together these 3 tips to help you sow into this crucial aspect of your life.
Resources for You and Your Church
Get access to the mental health awareness guide for your church here.
This guide includes the following:
Carolyn Sinclair McCall is the Founder and President of EarthBasic, a growing ministry, seeking to support women and children in cultivating loving, sustainable and Christ-centered responses to their self-care needs. She is thrilled at the call to extend the Be-held Community to include Be-Held Peace of Mind: a monthly publication providing Christ- centered mental health resources that raise awareness about mental health issues, end stigma around mental illness and point persons to hope in Jesus Christ.