Sometimes I feel lonely, even (perhaps especially) when I’m around people.
Curling up by myself on a rainy day with a good book and a warm blanket doesn’t feel alone; it feels nourishing. When I say “alone” I don’t mean physically alone but personally alone. Alone around people. It’s happened to us all. Sometimes others don’t care enough to connect; sometimes they do. At times others listen and understand (at least as well as another person can). But even good friends and family who love us get distracted by other concerns and miss (or misunderstand) the longings in our hearts. Sometimes people observe our loneliness but don’t do anything to alleviate it. Instead of support, we get silence, inattention, indifference, perhaps scorn. The intensity varies, but whether left alone by friends or deserted by foes, all of us know what it’s like to feel lonely.
Jesus often faced loneliness, particularly as He neared the cross. He felt Judas’ phony lips brush His cheek – but, as we all know, physical touch can still leave us lonely. He watched His disciples scatter to save their own necks, looked at Peter as the cock announced Peter’s third denial, endured the Pharisees’ mocking blows, suffered as soldiers just did their job – one more Jew, one more crucifixion, one more criminal. Even the Father left (Mark 15:34). Did God – Father, Son, and Spirit – feel lonely back then? Absolutely.
How about now, God? Do you still feel lonely? Let me ask my question more personally – do you ever feel lonely around me? You must, for I leave you alone all the time. My excuse is flimsy: I feel free to ignore you because I know you’ll be there when I return.
I get sad, sometimes mad, when people take me for granted or forget I’m there, but I’ve felt free to take you for granted. I don’t often consider how deeply I impact you. For you have feelings too.
What triggers my distancing from you? A lot of things. “Urgent matters” distract me and I plunge into problem-solving without considering your input. Pleasures fill my awareness and I enjoy them without thanking you. Fears urge me to rush to protect myself and forget that you are vigilant to guard me. Unmet desires blind me to your promise to meet all my needs. My list goes on and on. So many things call me to think I can handle life without you.
You reliably stay near me, Lord, but I don’t stay near you. When I think about how inconsistently I draw near, I have trouble meeting your gaze. But look I must, for only then do I see your ever-present kindness that melts my self-centeredness and draws me towards you once more.
Forgive me, Lord. Forgive us all. Teach us to notice you. Move us to stay aware of your presence. Train us to stay so near that you never feel lonely around us.
Does God Ever Feel Lonely Around Me? Does He Ever Feel Lonely Around You?
© Lynne Fox, 2017