Loneliness and the Journey

I get this email a lot. In fact I got two of them last week. I think you’ll enjoy the exchange:

I know you get this more than a lot, but I am totally lonely! I’ve been on this journey since the summer of 2009 when the So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore book came across my path. I feel isolated, and today I am going to a “church” just to be around other Christians, but yet I don’t want to go back! But I miss being around the people who at least seemed to know God. I do not miss the sermons and all the bells and whistles of Sunday mornings though. I guess I have to ask, after two years almost, how does this work? I’ve been depressed but I do not want to go back to the system, for real. I miss fellowship.

My response: Sorry you’re having some difficulty finding some folks to travel with. And believe me, I know how lonely it can feel. But fellowship is not to fill our loneliness. That ultimately can only be swallowed up by a loving Father as he continue to makes himself known to you and shows you how to follow him. He knows the fellowship you desire and he will bring it into your life as you simply begin to love the people God has already put around you. They may not even be believer yet, but as you simply grow in learning to care about them and recognize those God’s wants to give you a friendship with.

That doesn’t mean you can’t try out fellowships, look on line from others from your area. All of those can be helpful in this process. You may even find some in a more traditional congregation. Not all congregations are harmful. There are some out there who help people get to know Jesus and provide some wonderful relationships. Let him lead you and try not to be anxious. Sometimes it is better to go it alone with Jesus for a bit and learn to live in him rather than try to do that in a religious setting that trades in guilt and performance.

But be assured of this, Father knows the fellowship that he wants to bring into your life. Look where you can, but beyond your own abilities, know that he is at work. Right now I suspect God wants you to learn dependence in him so when others come along, you can find the friendships that trust in him allows as people encourage each other to live loved. It is a process. I know this isn’t the easiest part, but as you get through this season you’ll find it well worth it…

Just this morning I got this in return:

Thank you brother Wayne. This is the wisest piece of advice I’ve gotten since I met the Lord 11 years ago, when everything my bible study pastor told me came as fresh water because it was new and enlightening. I just felt the same way, and I so appreciate the time you have taken to answer my e-mails and that my e-mail didn’t go to a black hole. And thank you for not banging my head with scripture.

I will really be using the advise you just gave me and yes I “heard” my Lord saying to me the same thing yesterday, that I need to depend on Him alone (by the way I did not end up going to the congregation; I couldn’t; I just went to the beach to be with Him). I finally understood what a journey life is, it amazingly clicked inside of me, and that the journey is to be traveled with Him. I also finally understood the passage where Jesus says for us not to make treasures on Earth but rather in heaven, and I came to the realization that the treasures can be life itself, family, friends, a job, a career, children, parents, boyfriend, pets etc. as beautiful as all this can be, and that the treasures in heaven is Him, at least for now that’s what I understand. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

it is a journey. These things work out in time as we simply live inside the love he has for us and learn to love others around us in the process.

You might also try these podcasts on a similar subject…

  • High Risk/High Reward of Relational Community
  • Connecting to People Around Us
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    10 Comments
    1. David William Edwards April 5, 2011 at 4:08 pm

      Not to be redundant, but I thought a comment I made on a previous blog post might fit here as well:

      I found being outside the box lonely at first until I realized much of the purpose in it. I reconnected with some of my first loves – my Lord, my wife, my son and myself. It took awhile to look at that empty place and see what I really needed to fill it. There’s no better fellowship of the heart then fellowship those that are most intimate. Only then with this “fellowship foundation” in place did extra local fellowship start to happen. Nothing organized, just friends – friends at work, friends on the street, friends online. I had to stop looking for a new box with just a new cover, but allow the “breeze of friends” blow through my life.

    2. David William Edwards April 5, 2011 at 7:08 pm

      Not to be redundant, but I thought a comment I made on a previous blog post might fit here as well:

      I found being outside the box lonely at first until I realized much of the purpose in it. I reconnected with some of my first loves – my Lord, my wife, my son and myself. It took awhile to look at that empty place and see what I really needed to fill it. There’s no better fellowship of the heart then fellowship those that are most intimate. Only then with this “fellowship foundation” in place did extra local fellowship start to happen. Nothing organized, just friends – friends at work, friends on the street, friends online. I had to stop looking for a new box with just a new cover, but allow the “breeze of friends” blow through my life.

    3. Ken April 6, 2011 at 1:41 pm

      Thanks, Wayne for always reminding us that “It is a journey”. Steeped in the institution’s promises of sudden sanctification and instant transformation, it’s easy to become frustrated with slow and steady progress.

      I love that old song that says, “He touched me and made me whole”. But if I’m being honest, I have to admit that, many years from that first touch, I’m still on that journey to wholeness. And forward motion may be the only thing God is asking of me today…

    4. Sue April 6, 2011 at 3:52 pm

      I can relate to the lonely part of the journey, I’ve been ”outside the walls” for about 4 years now, at first I tried going to different churches, but once inside, I couldn’t wait to get out. The friends I had had while going to church have drifted away, and there are times I want to talk to someone who is on this wonderful journey too. During the times I really feel lonely, I go for walks in the woods and just spend time with Papa, that helps a lot. I had a friend at work that has been trying to get me to go to her church because she thinks I have backslidden, I just told her that I was where Papa wanted me to be and that was a lot more important to me than anything else. I do feel so free, and I am so grateful for Wayne and Brad, there are a lot of times I know Papa is using them to speak to me. I wouldn’t trade this journey for anything, I’m so grateful that I have personal relationship with Him, and not relying on a minister to tell me what to think, how to act and what to believe.

    5. Ken April 6, 2011 at 4:41 pm

      Thanks, Wayne for always reminding us that “It is a journey”. Steeped in the institution’s promises of sudden sanctification and instant transformation, it’s easy to become frustrated with slow and steady progress.

      I love that old song that says, “He touched me and made me whole”. But if I’m being honest, I have to admit that, many years from that first touch, I’m still on that journey to wholeness. And forward motion may be the only thing God is asking of me today…

    6. Sue April 6, 2011 at 6:52 pm

      I can relate to the lonely part of the journey, I’ve been ”outside the walls” for about 4 years now, at first I tried going to different churches, but once inside, I couldn’t wait to get out. The friends I had had while going to church have drifted away, and there are times I want to talk to someone who is on this wonderful journey too. During the times I really feel lonely, I go for walks in the woods and just spend time with Papa, that helps a lot. I had a friend at work that has been trying to get me to go to her church because she thinks I have backslidden, I just told her that I was where Papa wanted me to be and that was a lot more important to me than anything else. I do feel so free, and I am so grateful for Wayne and Brad, there are a lot of times I know Papa is using them to speak to me. I wouldn’t trade this journey for anything, I’m so grateful that I have personal relationship with Him, and not relying on a minister to tell me what to think, how to act and what to believe.

    7. Vic Andres April 7, 2011 at 1:34 pm

      This question resonates with a lot of us who find that our old church friends were indeed “rent-a-friends”. We lived outside the walls for quite a while but when we moved to another state, we began attending the meetings where our family is involved with the idea that we could hopefully establish some new relationships. I became involved with a men’s book study and after struggling through the first guilt ridden book, I suggested we look at Waynes book, “He Loves Me”. One of the elders, who after reading it confessed that he wished he would have known Father’s love like this 20 years ago. Some are having difficulty with the concept stating, “if it were only that easy”. Most people want a checklist to measure their status with their judge (which is how many see Him). We may be making some progress with a few though so thanks again Wayne for making this book available. I have read it over and over again. One of our friends recommended donmilleris.com2011/04/05 asking Should chuch leaders be led by educators. It’s a good refreshing piece making the point that nobody ever graduates from church which is teach, teach teach. Well I think some of us have.

    8. Vic Andres April 7, 2011 at 4:34 pm

      This question resonates with a lot of us who find that our old church friends were indeed “rent-a-friends”. We lived outside the walls for quite a while but when we moved to another state, we began attending the meetings where our family is involved with the idea that we could hopefully establish some new relationships. I became involved with a men’s book study and after struggling through the first guilt ridden book, I suggested we look at Waynes book, “He Loves Me”. One of the elders, who after reading it confessed that he wished he would have known Father’s love like this 20 years ago. Some are having difficulty with the concept stating, “if it were only that easy”. Most people want a checklist to measure their status with their judge (which is how many see Him). We may be making some progress with a few though so thanks again Wayne for making this book available. I have read it over and over again. One of our friends recommended donmilleris.com2011/04/05 asking Should chuch leaders be led by educators. It’s a good refreshing piece making the point that nobody ever graduates from church which is teach, teach teach. Well I think some of us have.

    9. Robyn April 19, 2011 at 11:47 am

      The further I get on my journey the more I have come to be comfortable with the knowledge that not everything in my life will be the same all the time. The comfort is in knowing He is my one Constant! He may add friends in for good measure, and they may drift in and out of my life. Love them as I do, there’s only One I need like my next breath.

    10. Robyn April 19, 2011 at 2:47 pm

      The further I get on my journey the more I have come to be comfortable with the knowledge that not everything in my life will be the same all the time. The comfort is in knowing He is my one Constant! He may add friends in for good measure, and they may drift in and out of my life. Love them as I do, there’s only One I need like my next breath.

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