Growing up the band Green Day released a song titled “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” - To give you a glimpse of its message, here are a few of the lyrics.
I walk a lonely road
the only one that I have ever known
Don't know where it goes
But it's only me, and I walk alone
Lonely and alone. Two words that described my entire life’s meaning, or so Satan had me to believe, before I met Christ. I spent years believing that no one cared about me, that I was of no value, that as my mother would call me “ a disgrace,” that my life had no meaning and no purpose. After all, if your own mother thinks you are a disgrace what good are you anyway? I replayed these messages countless times to the point where it seemed that ending my life was better than living at all. I spent many a night crying out to this so called “God” that I had “leaned” about in church asking Him why in the world would he have ever allowed me to be born? Obviously, if my life was the way it was He made a mistake right? I was oh so lost - I had no clue about the true amazing redemptive love of Christ. Praise God that He did not give up on me but that He drew near to me, and one day, at age 17, He opened my eyes to the truth of His love for me through Jesus.
Now I would love to say everything was hunky dory from then on and I never ever struggled with thoughts of hopelessness, feelings of depression, worthlessness, and so on, but my acceptance of Christ was just the beginning. God was then able to begin the much-needed work of the process of sanctification. I would spend years fighting the lies of my flesh with the truth of the Spirit. But the more I engulfed myself with God’s truth, the more I worshiped Him through song, the more I reached out for help from wise counsel during my struggles the more I learned how much I meant to Him. I am a daughter of the Living King, I have value, and I was created with the soul purpose of giving glory to my Heavenly Father. And the beauty of this is so are each of you reading this today. Our Savior loves us so incredibly much. So if you are lonely or struggling with being alone or feeling less than or having no value, remember God is For you (Romans 8:31), He will NEVER leave you nor Forsake you (Hebrews 13:5), and He upholds you with His righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10). Trust Him and if you are struggling to believe these truths ask Him for help. Cry out to Him and say Lord I believe but help my unbelief (Mark 9:24) for He is always faithful even when we are faithless (2 Timothy 2:13). Even after I came to Christ, it took me 10 years to truly break free of the lies and bondage I was so deeply in-so never give up, continue to dive deep and infuse your soul with these truths because the enemy wants nothing ore than to keep you in bondage. But Jesus came to set us free. Let us choose to live in that freedom today and forever. Anonymous.
I checked the dictionary for definitions of lonely. I am not going to copy them all here, but I will use one which describes lonely as "destitute of sympathetic or friendly companionship, support." So, when I hear someone say they are lonely to the very people that would in fact be willing to offer sympathetic or friendly companionship, I have to conclude that there must be something else that is missing in the lonely person’s life.
I have to confess up front that I am not lonely now. I was at one time. I have been “cry myself to sleep” lonely. I have been “drink myself to sleep” lonely. The loneliest I have ever been was when I was married and living a life surrounded by people. I had many friends and family and plenty of interactions every day, most of them of the 'sympathetic and friendly'“ variety and yet as I reflect on that time from 20 years down the road and from a place where I can confidently say I am not lonely, I have to ask myself what has changed?
My heart is full and overflowing and what a love story based on the glorious work of Christ. He, Jesus, patiently pursued me even when I ignored Him. The Lover of my soul is a perfect gentleman. He waited until I asked Him into my heart before He moved in. Don’t get me wrong. I knew Him for a long time. You could say we dated, even that I did a background check because I had studied Him, I had claimed Him as my savior. But did I trust Him enough to let Him move in? Did I trust Him enough to give Him control over my finances?
Did I believe He would never leave me or forsake me, as I really did not want another broken heart. So, I can tell you what has changed is me. I am so in love with Jesus that no human relationship could ever replace this feeling of oneness with Jesus. I have that 'sympathetic, friendly companionship' and He is with me always. As I reflect, I realized that it was not until I reached the point of absolute surrender - until I fell into His arms and gave up any worldly ideas of what a love relationship looked like did I truly fall in love with Him.
Addendum by Dr. Katherine Pang
Take some time to consider that this is a season. Isolation does not have to mean loneliness. There are always lessons and growth and through any season we can choose to draw near, reflect and search for the opportunities. It is a season for initiative and proactivity – reach out, seek mentorship, friendship, therapeutic assistance if necessary. Make wise, healthy, Christ-centric choices even when you feel least able and remember He is your Strength, your Hope, and your path forward.
As I drove to church that Christmas Eve morning, my heart was in absolute turmoil. The route was one I drove six times a week, and it was that familiarity that helped me arrive safely; I could barely see through my tears. Arriving surprisingly early, I sat in the parking lot crying, praying, and deciding if I’d even go inside. It was as though all the feelings of the past months were all hitting at once and I couldn’t sort them out, slow them down, or see even a sign of relief ahead. I remember that I finally went in, but the service is a blur. Driving home, I didn’t know exactly what I was feeling – fear, uncertainty, sadness, self-pity, anxiety, depression, exhaustion – but I knew I didn’t have peace, and I knew I needed it.
Isaiah 26:3 rings in my head as I write this: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”
I don’t remember whether this verse came to mind that day, or if I simply clung to the promise I knew to be true: God grants peace to His people. I needed peace, and peace I would get even if it took all day on my knees. I gathered journals and devotional books and set them beside my Bible on the coffee table. My phone was charged and laptop ready, and I determined that if I had to listen to five sermons, read two books, sing, and pray all day, I would not leave that place until God granted me peace. I knew that He could, and I knew that if I was surrendered to Him, He would.
I sometimes wish I had a journal entry that detailed exactly how He comforted me, but perhaps it’s for the best because rather than remembering “twelve-steps to receive the peace of God” I remember the determination of the seeking and the final victory cry at the end of the day:
“I am on the side of the Lord, and I will not be disheartened by struggle or defeat. For one day I will know the satisfaction of the Lord’s victory.”
It was in that victory that I experienced the most peaceful and special Christmas day, where Lamentations collided with the Christmas story in Luke.
“I called on Your name, O Lord, from the lowest pit. You have heard my voice: “Do not hide Your ear from my sighing, from my cry for help.” You drew near on the day I called on You, and said, “Do not fear!”” Lamentations 3:55-57
“Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord… Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:10-11, 14.
I prayed: Lord, you knew how much I needed peace yesterday, and you drew near on the day I called to you. Thank you for your presence, for your comfort, peace, and strength. Thank you for sending peace to a world of broken hearts!
More meaningful notes and quotes from the days leading up to and following this time:
“The person of Jesus is the quiet resting-place of His people, and when we draw near to Him – in the breaking of bread, in the hearing of the Word, the searching of the Scriptures, prayer, or praise – we find any form of approach to Him to be the return of peace to our spirits.” Spurgeon, Morning & Evening, Evening 12/9
“Blessed inner chamber, where I may approach God in Christ through the Word and prayer. There I may offer myself to God and His service, and be strengthened by the Holy Spirit, so that His love may be shed abroad in my heart and I may daily walk in that love.” Andrew Murray, God’s Best Secrets, Rules for Bible Reading
“Sorrow is better than laughter, for by a sad countenance the heart is made better.” Ecclesiastes 7:3
“God spoke peace into my emotional turmoil because I was asking for it and looking for it and being silent enough to hear it.” – Elisabeth Elliot, Passion & Purity, Chapter 16.
Infusion: When tragedy descended on my family in high school, I found an insatiable desire to be infused with the Word of God daily. It was the only thing that sustained me through the tragedy. Now, it is a practice that has become a constant and critical part of my daily life. In more recent years, the infusion of God’s Word throughout my childhood and adult life came to a headway when I was diagnosed with chronic illness. Chronic illness has led to some very dark moments when there seems to be no hope and relief. In the darkest moments of this illness I can often be overwhelmed by attitudes and actions that would send me into despair. In those moments the Lord brings to mind scriptures I have read or memorized, flooding my mind with truth. He reminds me “Incline your ear, and come to me; hear that your soul may live; For you shall go out in joy and be lead forth in peace;…” (Isaiah 55:3a & 12a) and “Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.” (2 Corinthians 1:9-10) Total healing may or may not be in God’s will for my life, but it is the daily practice of infusing my life, heart, and mind with the truth of God’s Word that helps me set my hope and joy on Him putting despair in its proper place. Amanda Noller
Iintimate Relationship: Twenty-three years ago, I read the Bible cover to cover twice in one year and it changed my life. I had learned all the Bible stories growing up in the church. When I actually started reading scripture and dwelling on its truths, I finally understood what it meant to be in an intimate relationship with the living God which has provided my life with a firm foundation and enabled me to withstand many turbulent storms. The process of infusing myself with God’s Word and digesting its truths has allowed me to know and understand who God is and who I am in relation to God and others. Helen Kearns
Growing in Christ: In our small group, I never know when to talk; but I always have so much to say. I think God is really growing me right now especially in the area of struggling with control. I am finding so much peace in not being in control during these crazy times, its very freeing. I don’t know why I’ve tried to hold onto control so tightly. As I let go, I also find that I am led into places where I am not so focused on myself. I’ve been able to be there for people I care about and just be a positive light which is a great joy but also frustrating at times because I don’t always know what to say ot how to deal with the struggles of others but I can share His truth and be an a positive encourager. I know I am growing and that's what I wanted to share. Crae Jackson
Detoxification: The Lord began the detoxification process for me during my freshman year of college. I had spent the first 18 years of my life not knowing or understanding what God says about me. I only repeated the thoughts of I’m a failure, mistake, unloved, and even to the extent of better off nonexistent. But the Lord in his wonderful mercy began to detoxify those lies with the truth of His Word. I began replacing the lies with the truth of God’s Word. I would repeat it over and over-the infusion process. I also had the body of Christ come along side me and pray these truths over me time and time again. And over time I began to digest the truth of His Word and it became transformative from a head knowledge to being intertwined in the depths of my heart. This did not happen overnight. It took constant detoxification of the lies, infusing myself with the truth, and repeatedly digesting on it until the lies transitioned from loud boisterous screams to faint whispers to mostly nonexistent these days. The struggle still remains but God’s truth, love and mercy prevail. Kelley Puckett
Contentment: The last few months have been painful to say the least. I have been working through the 12-step workbook healing from traumas I didn’t really know I had. I have spent most of my life closing myself off from the world, the Lord and even myself. When I started this process and truly started to surrender to the Lord, it wasn’t easy. There were a lot of tears and lashing out. I have felt overwhelmed. Similar to a toddler having a temper tantrum. My emotions, at times, have felt too big for me to deal with. As Paul states in Romans 7:15 “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” I realized in the midst of my outburst that I didn’t want to act this way, but I couldn’t figure out how to calm myself down, I couldn’t figure out how to process what I was going through. I am not finished with the workbook, but the most powerful thing that I’ve gleaned from this experience is that my feelings are not truth. I need to be self-aware and I need to be leaning into the strength of the Lord to rid myself of my flesh. I still have a ways to go when it comes to healing from my childhood traumas and retraining my brain to realize that my present reality is not my past. While at times it is painful, I am content in the growing because I fully believe that I have a God who “is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17 Crae Jackson
The 7-week program started Saturday, February 29th with an Introduction and the Detoxification Module. We are starting to build a spiritual toolbox to equip us to press on for His glory.
Detoxification Tools: For the purpose of uprooting roots and flushing out the flesh (Bloodhounds and Spaniels) - had to be there - smile!
Testimonies from Module 1:
"In module one , we learn to initiate the detoxification process by shining the light of God’s truth deep down to the granular level of ourselves to expose the roots of bitterness, unforgiveness, distrust and all negativity that hinders our relationship with God." Katherine H.
"Detoxification can be difficult to say the least, but I believe the growth that comes with it is worth it. I am excited to continue this journey to the next modules to learn what the Lord has to teach me. " Crae J.
"I enjoyed the detoxification step because of its practical focus on dealing with the thoughts, attitudes, and environments which lead to sin. We were given an array of tools with which we can examine our daily decisions in order to understand the underlying root causes/beliefs which undergird particular self-centered decisions we make throughout our lives. I also appreciated the visual imagery of boulders, rocks, and sand as representative of the varying degree of our self-centered behaviors, with the reminder that we want to exist at the sand level, not some fictitious level where self-centeredness is completely absent!" Matt J.
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