On July 7th our family officially became church planters. We knew for most of the time my husband was at The Master’s Seminary that church planting was the plan the Lord had laid before us. I was never naïve about the trials that would come with church planting. If anything I over-prepared myself mentally for the persecution that would come by dwelling too much on it.
What I did not anticipate was the loneliness.
The loneliness has not come in the form of a lack of people attending our weekly Bible study. No, the turnout has been amazing; all praise to the Lord for growing His church. We have many ethnicities, ages and demographics attending. It’s beautiful. And yet, I find myself feeling lonely. I have plenty of women to talk to so what is my problem? There’s this hesitation within me to share what is really on my heart.
Will they think I’m weak? Will they question if we are ready? Will they pity me?
Is this what the Lord wants me to feel? I know that as Christians we are to share each other’s burdens but figuring out how to do that is a challenge. You don’t have to be a church planter to share this struggle. Almost every pastor’s wife I’ve spoken with has shared this difficulty. Missionaries fight loneliness daily. It goes beyond ministry circles. The wife of a doctoral student worries that sharing their problems will come off as complaining or doubtful. Military wives are often literally alone. Any mature Christian woman should carefully consider what she shares and to whom she opens up to.
What’s the solution to this “loneliness”?
Here are four suggestions. Have you ever found yourself saying the statements in bold below in each point?
1) Read God’s Word daily.
“It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4).
Eat all the food you want, but if you aren’t feasting on the Word of God you are literally starving your soul. Very few people in this world have food at their fingertips yet choose to starve themselves. Why do this to your soul?
“I don’t always want to read the Bible.”
Currently I am pregnant with our 7th child. Like clockwork every first trimester I try to not eat because I don’t want to eat when I feel nauseous. My husband reminds me of how ridiculous it is for me not to eat and encourages me to eat. After eating (or choking it down) I almost always feel better. Our emotions will fool us in a second but our needs are consistent. We need food. We need the Word.
2) Pray often.
“Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Reading the Bible allows God to speak with us. Prayer is how we speak with God. How easily we can overschedule our day and leave out conversation with the One who hears all, knows all and controls all.
“My heart is not right to pray.”
“If your heart be cold in prayer, do not restrain prayer until your heart warms, but pray your soul unto heat by the help of the everblessed Spirit who helpeth our infirmities. If the iron be hot then hammer it, and if it be cold hammer it till you heat it. Never cease prayer for any sort of reason or argument.” (From Charles Spurgeon’s sermon, “Pray Without Ceasing”)
3) Check your heart. Confess if needed.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
I’ve had to ask myself if my loneliness is credible. If Christ has promised me that He is always with me, and I’m fully trusting the Father to see us through this difficult yet immensely rewarding journey, is there any problem left that I need someone else to hear?
“Someone needs to hear how hard it is for me!”
My focus shouldn’t be on finding women for me to bare my soul to. My focus should be on finding women who I can pour my joy and love into!
I’m not saying we aren’t to share our needs with others. What I am saying is that I have spent too much time desiring to find someone that can carry my baggage when there is nowhere in Scripture that justifies that.
4) Pick up the phone and call a friend. In this age of quick Facebook messages and texts we’ve lost our voices in friendships. Shifting your focus to those around you instead of on yourself will alleviate most if not all of the loneliness.
“I don’t have the energy to call someone.”
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).
I am saddened that I haven’t reached out to those in our core group to see what spiritual and physical struggles they are enduring at this time. While I sit here wishing I had someone to tell how stressed I am; someone else is weeping over the sin or pain in their life.
Loneliness is real for many women but for me, it’s not. Writing this post has helped me to see that God has given me an abundance of time to read His Word and relationships to bless.
Will you join me in daily Bible reading, prayer, heart checks and blessing others?