Alone at Heart: Looking to Fill the Void
- Monday, September 10, 2012
Married or not, I think we all, at one time or another, feel alone at heart.
Sandy is single, and she's felt that way many times.
"I don't like being single," she told me one day with tears in her eyes. "I've always wanted to be a wife and a mother and I can't imagine that God wouldn't have that in store for me."
Sandy has heard all the classic lines:
Trust in God's timing, not your own.
Focus on your relationship with God and then He'll give you a relationship with a man.
When you stop looking for love, you'll find it.
But the lines aren't helping anymore. And now that Sandy is approaching her 30s, she's frightened that her possibilities of finding someone at this point in life are growing gravely slimmer.
"The worst thing is coming home at night to an empty house and walking through the door into the silence," she told me. "There's no one to welcome me, no one to be excited that I'm there." Sandy knows in her head that God is there, but she still feels alone at heart.
Vickie is alone at heart as well. But she has been married for 30 years. She admits that when she married at 18 years old, she never imagined she would ever feel alone. But living with a man who tends to distance himself from her emotionally whenever there is conflict or stress, has left Vickie walking alone through much of her marriage.
Sorting Through the Myths
From the time most of us were little girls, we heard that our key to happiness was to fall in love, marry, and live happily ever after. And so, from the time we're fed the fairy tale, we convince ourselves that as long as we find someone to share our life with, we will never walk alone. But it just isn't true.
If we marry a man who travels often or is consumed with his job, we may find ourselves feeling alone. If we marry a man who seldom communicates or won't make an emotional connection with us, we may feel alone. If we never marry, or we find ourselves eventually divorced or widowed, we may feel alone.
I believe it's because we, as women, were made to be "helpers" (Genesis 2:18). We were wired for relationships. We also know from Scripture that God created us, as women, in His image (Genesis 1:27), and so our nature to love and be loved completely not only reflects God's characteristics, but His perfect design for us as well. But God knew good and well that men in and of themselves would not be able to completely fill our emotional tank. In fact, I think He was planning on it. I think by making us with needs that only He could fill, He was reserving a place in our hearts for Him alone. Perhaps He was placing in us a well so deep that only He could fill it, and that way, married or not, we would be neither content nor complete until we were in close relationship with Him.
Scripture also tells us that God is a jealous God (Exodus 20:4-5) and He will be second to no man in our lives. He demands—and deserves—to be first place in our hearts. To you and I, He wants to be The Man...the One who keeps us from feeling alone at heart.
Putting Marriage in Its Proper Place
While it is natural for us to long for marriage, a marriage here on earth is temporary. It will last, at the most, until you or your spouse dies. But marriage with the Lord will last into eternity. And I’ve found that in my own experiences of being lonely at heart (for the most part, married to a pastor who is an introvert and very busy in ministry), focusing on my heavenly Husband is one sure way to get my mind off of unmet expectations in my earthly marriage and to still live in joy as a woman much loved.
So what is all this talk about a marriage to the Lord?
Throughout the Old Testament, God refers to His chosen people, the nation of Israel, as His bride. In Isaiah 54:5 He tells Israel, “Your Maker is your husband—the LORD Almighty is His name.” In the New Testament, Jesus refers to Himself as the Bridegroom and to His church (those who trust Him as Savior and Lord) as His bride. Jesus also talked of going away to prepare a home for us in heaven and then returning to get us, His bride, and take us back to live with Him (see John 14:2-3). God’s comparison of His love for us with a husband-wife relationship is too obvious to overlook in Scripture; He is definitely trying to make a point to us.
Could that point be that God wants us to see Him as our heavenly Husband and the One who holds our hope and future in His hands? I believe so. If our perspective were realigned so that we, as women, considered ourselves married to God first, it would dramatically change how we view our earthly marriage or lack of one.
Now, if you think of a husband in terms of a sexual relationship, you won’t have a right picture of marriage to God. Instead, think of God as a husband in terms of the biblical role and responsibilities a husband has. For instance, a husband is to provide, protect, comfort, encourage, befriend, and love…and God does all of that! And because He is perfect and without sin, He can do all of that a lot better than any human husband could!
Let me share with you three practical things that we can do—every day—in our relationship with the Lord so that our marriage to Him fills the void a man cannot fill.
1. Communicate with God about everything. Relationships are built and maintained upon communication. And a lot of times that starts with talking about the little things and building up to a more vulnerable and soul-exposing communication. Tell God about the little things in your day, every day. Unlike some husbands, He will be glad to hear every little detail. (God never tells us, “Get to the point, please!”) Telling God about your day is one way of letting Him fill that need for “someone to talk to” and “someone to listen.” Yes, He already knows all about what you're going to tell Him. But by telling Him, you are affirming to yourself—and to Him—that He is the single most important love of your life.
2. Commit yourself to trusting in God alone. Trust is another key element in a good relationship. And God wants you to trust Him as the One who will provide for you, protect you, and advise you in various matters, just as you would look to a husband to do the same. Look to God’s Word for direction in that big decision you need to make. Wait upon Him for guidance in those smaller decisions, too. Trust God’s promises, in His Word, to provide for you financially and otherwise when things get tight. Unlike an earthly husband, God has unlimited assets. (Psalms 50:10 tells us He owns the cattle on a thousand hills!) He has all the resources you will ever need when you get into a bind.
God is also all-knowing, so nothing takes Him by surprise. Furthermore, He isn’t capable of making a mistake, so He’ll never drop the ball. Plus, He’s got perfect timing, so you don’t have to worry about missing anything.
3. Consider your life with God a partnership. Those who are married share just about everything from money to living quarters to possessions. The same works with being “married” to God, only it’s more like everything belongs to Him, but He gives you access. Share with Him your time, your plans, your finances, your love, your thoughts, your concerns, your devotion, and your loyalty, and you will never have to worry that anything you give Him will be misused, abused, misplaced, or taken for granted.
God's Word contains a special promise to those who take Him up on His offer to be their heavenly Husband. His promise is that no matter how lonely you may feel, He will fill up your heart and your home with His presence.
In Psalms 68:6 we are told: "God makes a home for the lonely" (NASB).
Did you catch that? It is His comforting presence that warms up your house and makes it a home. It is His sweet presence that greets you as you walk through the door at the end of the day. It is His calming presence that sings over you, allowing you to sleep at night. Now that's the kind of home that any woman would want...a home in which she no longer feels alone.
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and author of several books, including Women on the Edge, When a Woman Overcomes Life's Hurts, and When Women Walk Alone, from which this article is adapted. For more on her books, ministry, and free resources to strengthen your soul, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.
Publication date: September 10, 2012
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