The Lonely Truth

Loneliness is a disease! Did you know ‘lonely’ people have higher cortisol levels and less immunity to infections? Because of this, it is necessary for their bodies to work harder to pump blood. These folks also have increased trouble with self control and are prone to develop the obvious; depression leading to suicide, alcoholism, and difficulty getting deep sleep. And as if that wasn’t enough, they also have faster progression of Alzheimers. Gulp.

Being alone can kill you.

When I feel the weight of being alone, it’s really when I’m not connected with God. When the demands of the day override my dedication to seeking God. I wondered if deep down I was really fearing that God would leave my heart empty for many more days. I confess His goodness with my lips but doubt His faithfulness with disparity. When I am confident in my closeness with Christ, the consciousness of singleness vaporizes. My thoughts become focused on how beautiful and big He is, that my needs for a companion seem so small and somehow fade into the background.

I think it’s interesting that many times in scripture Jesus withdrew to ‘lonely’ places to pray. Why did He go to lonely places on purpose? After all, the enemy prowls around like a lion (1 Peter 5:8). Think about how a lion preys. A lion gets his prey alone. A pride of lion will hunt down game twice it’s size, but singled out, makes for an easy meal. But I imagine Jesus is thinking in the emptiness of a desert place, the worries of the world fade and distractions that once tried to fill this void vanish.

So maybe, just maybe, there is good to be found in being alone after all.

Maybe the lonely truth is that in my abandonment, I find God. And as I soak up the goodness of a Father so deeply in love with me, I realize the pangs of solitary living are satisfied with a robust zeal that revives the beat of my dead heart. I am made whole again, in the constant companionship of Christ, who covers the wounds and fills these longings. My desire begins to weave with His will and my faith strengthens as a single strand becomes the cord.

The seasons shift, but my trust, it still remains.

Oh, my Lord. Some days I think I get what your Word is trying to say, and other days I’m drowning in tears of forgetfulness. I am trying to live in your ways, but my flesh is weak and my spirit fails. Come, like you promised. Fill me with your living Spirit. Just like you said you would. Turn to me and be gracious, God. This loneliness is an affliction to more hearts than my own and so I ask for Your healing touch to revive their souls in this moment. Come with grace and mercy. Come riding on the wind. Come restore your bride, just like you said you would, Jesus. We’re waiting.

Made For Love

Are you filling your life with something tangible because your emotions are missing the intangible gift of love?

Lately, I’ve been overindulging in emotional eating. No sooner than finishing the last bite of a cow and my stomach is signaling to eat the hog too. It’s a pretty serious problem. Even now, as I type this at 7:30 p.m., I’m taking down several chewy Chips Ahoy and no amount of self control or fullness is registering, so I’m tackling an ice cream sundae because dinner didn’t fill me up.

I’ve had my own hypothesis for these buried emotions I’ve been sweeping under the table I’m gorging at, but my solution is enough exercise will zero out the day and hours of self analysis can be avoided. (I’m going to go out on a limb and say all our problems stem from the same thing I’ve been settling my stomach with.)

My available time is shrinking this summer, which means I need to figure out a better method to make up for these meals or stop being a coward and deal with these emotions so I can stop overeating. The solutions are slim so I invested in wisdom; Breaking Free From Emotional Eating by Geneen Roth.

My hypothesis was right. The deeper emotion that causes people to react in reaching for food is… love, or a lack of, I should say. heart on paperPeople are lonely deep down and they want to feel loved, so they eat to suppress their appetite for affections. It stems from the lack of tenderness and touch in our lives. The stomach isn’t empty, just the love tank.

Regardless of whether you’re single or in a committed relationship, God made us all for love. If you’re body isn’t experiencing a form of love daily, it reacts through depression, anger, anxiety and withdrawal.

I even believe the source of a sour character is a scarcity of love. An inner revolt happens when there is a deficit of devotion and sentiment surrounding our soul; touch, time, gifts, affirmation and even service.

The hard truth is, you may be getting what you’re giving. You are a life created for love, but also a life made to live love. So I thought about how to live love. But the reality is, you can’t walk in these ways of you’re wandering in the wilderness of ‘busyness’.

So first, get free from the demands holding you down and then load up your empty love tank with what it’s really lacking:

1) Guard your heart and mind with the Word of God daily. Don’t let the sun go down or come up without the Word in your mind and on your heart. After all, God is love. If you are in need of love, you are in need of God.

2) Find more friends who are in a similar position of life as you. If you’re single, find single friends. If you’re married, get with other couples.

3) Allow others to love you. We are generally a selfish society. We want love the way we want it. A preference is good, but I’m challenging you to renew your perspective and accept love in the way it’s given. Take what you can get and find the good in it.

heart4) Love lavishly. Encourage others. Get involved in other’s lives (it can be online). Give your time to someone, or even something they care about. Ask questions and follow up! Generously give out hugs. Invite someone to coffee, dinner, a movie or a walk .

Everyone was created to be loved.

Next time you reach for the refrigerator or have an adverse attitude, understand food won’t fill your deeper need. Get un-busy and start extravagantly loving others, and this love will overflow their reservoir and flood your own.

God, you see the depths of our hearts and know that void space that’s crying out for love. Help us to see the need in others. Give us the willingness and energy to begin pouring out what little love we have left in us, trusting that You will bring a mighty flood our way. You are Love. Help us to take Your Word and Spirit and transform lives with the unselfish nature of who You are. In the name of Love, I pray this in Jesus’s precious name, Amen.

The Beauty Behind Your Hardship

Sorrento at sunsetSimply stunning, right? Believe it or not, as I held the camera staring out at this sunrise, I could not see the striking beauty captured here because of the circumstance I was standing in. My vision was clouded by a veil of the immediate hardship, which pulled on my heart more than the perfect smudging of colors blending across the sky. The depth of perspective in this scene was jaded by  where I had been standing. My eyes could only see the surface; a tired spirit and sweating body. The enemy had manipulated a worn out marionette, swayed by the difficulties taking stage.

I was alone. Afraid of the things I could see. Frustrated this wasn’t the fairytale journey I had planned. I was caught up in my conditions, instead of the captivating craftsmanship the Author had been drawing my attention to. I wish I had the perspective of Paul, to see my Maker’s grand masterpiece in the present day portraits instead of its imperfections.

Don’t get me wrong. There were times I experienced the supernatural force of praise so powerful, rising up from the pit of my disparity to help me stand strong in faith even when my thoughts or circumstances were tempted to come against the truth. There were images that evoked such vivid depictions of God, I fell on my face in such deep adoration for the Almighty Artist. I believe this was the most difficult part, because I only wished I could live captivated in awe by His artistry every moment.

Is it possible that the way out of hardship is to abandon our bad attitude and negative thoughts by surrendering to praise? One of the toughest things to do in the face of adversity is to take off our frames that are focused on fear and fatigue, and replace them with the lens’ of God’s love. We have a choice to pick up praise, when our life doesn’t live up to expectations or finds us surrounded in a situation that we can’t seem to get out of. It’s hard to be negative when you are declaring the goodness of God!

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9

Are you missing the beauty in today because a veil of hardship comes between you and what’s on the other side? Is your circumstance covering the portrait God has been drawing before your eyes?

Backpacking My Burden

I’ve been home for a week from my Italy excursion during the month of May. My brain has since been ruminating about the journey and I have found more reflections than I have time to write about. Even as I type, I am juggling several tasks between typing the title and actually transcribing my thoughts in this post.Several friends have asked, so here’s a quick take:

Favorite parts: I loved Florence the most. It had charm, rich history, a kaleidoscope of colors, rolling landscapes, a vibrant culture, and a taste of everything that makes Italy so appealing (my opinion). But really, I enjoyed each area for different reasons. Tuscany was simply stunning during every hour of the day. Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast were lined with trails that weaved along the water.

As a ‘foodie’, I plotted my pilgrimage according to every ‘must try’ by the culinary circles. I’m not even going to start on all the pasta, pizza, pastries and gelato or we’ll be here forever. Italy has cultivated the fine art of anything that comes in a cup. Simply put, the country is king of the kitchen!

So the worst part? Moving around so often. Before I left the states, I planned my priorities like most people; ‘I need to see it all’. As soon as my feet hit foreign ground, I realized it was goinBackpackingg to be a lot more work and less of a vacation. I left my suitcase at home and opted for a backpack to prevent being preyed upon by pick-pocketers. This would have been a wise idea if I hadn’t packed 25 pounds worth of “necessities”.

It seemed like I barely had time to get acquainted with the street grid of a new city before I was packing up and catching the next train out. With each stop, my bag became harder to zip up, which meant heavier to hold. I quickly realized how I underestimated the burden of lugging dead weight on my back in and out of trains and bus stops.

Then it hit me. This is what I do in my personal journey through life. I try to pack in as many activities or friends in a short amount of time so that I can ‘do it all’. In the end, I wind up stressing over all the busyiness instead of being grateful for these moments. I want to absorb the leisure of one or two places and enjoy the depth of relationships with a few people instead of living with regret that I only brushed the surface of it all.

So my recommendations. Don’t go alone. There’s too much beauty to see and share with someone and two pairs of eyes are better than one when you’re navigating from the ground in a new city. Second tip. Tell yourself you CAN come back. That you don’t have to be everywhere and do everything. And in the end, your trip will feel more fulfilling with fewer stops. Lastly. Remember, there are no calories in anything when you’re on vacation, so enjoy it all. Just make sure to get to the gym when you get home 🙂