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As we sat down to dinner, I watched the faces of my husband and children as they dug into their meals and happily discussed the events of the past week. My own family had no idea what was going on inside of me; how I really felt. They would have been shocked to hear the truth—that while on the surface I appeared bubbly and engaged, I felt like I was dying each day on the inside. I was lost in a sea of loneliness that nothing could penetrate. And I was sure if I told anyone, they would call me crazy, or worse still, selfish. What kind of woman is lonely in a house full of people? What kind of mother isn’t joyful in the company of her own family?
Since coming through that difficult season and sharing my heartache with the women I’ve met over the past few years, I’ve learned that THOUSANDS upon thousands of wives and mothers feel this exact same way. Every. Single. Day. They remain silent, plunging deeper still into their isolation. They feel guiltier by the day and wonder what is wrong with them.
What is it, exactly? What’s causing so many intelligent, blessed, busy, Christian women to experience such desperate loneliness?
I think if we were honest with each other, we would say things like:
“I feel unloved.”
“No one really knows me, and if they did they wouldn’t like the real me.”
“My family doesn’t appreciate me.”
“No one seems to understand me.”
“There’s gotta be more to life. I love my children with every fiber of my being, but I’m unfulfilled. And I feel so guilty for feeling this way.”
“I just feel… like I’m all alone on an island.”
“I dreamed about getting married and having babies since I was a little girl, but it feels like the biggest disappointment now. Why is it so hard?”
All of these things may be 100% true. Our feelings and perceptions deserve to be heard and validated. But they are not the cause of our epidemic of loneliness. They are merely symptoms.
The root is more subtle: We don’t know who we are. And we’re trying to find identity in what we do.
Does your life feel disappointing? Unfulfilling? Do you feel like adulthood, or maybe marriage, is the greatest let down of your life? Does it seem like every dream you had as a young woman is completely dead and gone?
I can promise you that God’s plan for you is none of these things. So how did we end up here?
Here is the raw truth, dear heart. You can only find the fulfillment you seek, the completion you need, and companionship you crave in the person of Jesus. Have you really looked there? Did you know that He put these needs and desires in you to inspire you to pursue Him?
If you’re feeling empty, there’s one simple answer— you need more of Him.
As long as we look to our husband, children, friends, church, pastor, entertainment, work, or a substance to fill this hole, it will only grow bigger and deeper.
The good news? There are very few things we have complete control over, but THIS is one of them. We don’t have to stay empty, lonely, and misunderstood. We just have to shift where we look to fill these needs.
I know what you might be thinking… “That’s all well and good Lizzie. It makes sense. But how?? What do I do? Where do I find the time? What does it look like?”
Real quick—if you are in a relationship where you are being verbally, emotionally, physically, and/or sexually abused— please read this post instead. I have a very different and specific message for you.
I’ll tell you what— I think a lot of moms and wives feel like they can’t even have needs. There’s just no time or energy to tend to them. I know I felt that way! When I first became a mom, I seriously had to relearn how to have a relationship with God. I’m still trying to figure it out—and I don’t get it right every day. But here are some practical things I’ve learned to activate in my own life that I would highly recommend for you, too:
1. Shift your Expectations.
I believe this is an important place to start. It’s time for a shift in mindset and expectations. By an act of your will, you need to choose to seek fulfillment and validation in God each day instead of the people around you or the things you accomplish.
Think about it this way: this is just like setting a health goal for yourself. If you decide that you’re going to cut processed food out of your diet, you’re no longer going to search the pantry for potato chips or cookies when you’re hungry. They’re simply not on the menu. For that matter, you’re also going to set yourself up for success by putting healthy choices in the fridge as an alternative. So when the temptation comes to chow down on the chips, you’re going to use self-discipline to make the healthy choice instead.
Likewise, when you’re feeling unappreciated and unfulfilled, you’re not going to blame your husband or children, nor will you look to them for personal validation. That’s no longer an option. You’re going to choose to look to God and remind yourself what He says about you. You’re going seek His face and ask Him to fill your needs. AND you’re going to set yourself up for success by fueling your tank with God’s Word, worship music, and prayer time first thing each day so you’re on the proactive instead of the reactive. This leads us right into my second suggestion.
2. Make time. Period.
I seriously get not having enough time and not knowing where to source it from. I promise you. I will also confess—for at least the first year after becoming a mom this was my excuse for not spending much time with God. And I meant it whole-heartedly. I really wanted to spend time with Him, I just didn’t know when to do it.
But here’s the thing: sincere or not, it was still an excuse. And it kept me in a series of bad cycles in my thoughts, relationships, and circumstances.
At the end of the day, time with God is the answer to every question, problem, and struggle. I had to choose what I was going to do about that reality and so do you. We can either stay empty, apart from God, lacking wisdom or answers, and completely unfulfilled, or we can put on our big girl panties and make time. There’s no other answer. There’s no alternative path.
I was recently counseling a single mom with 3 kids under 5. She desperately needed breakthrough from God but SERIOUSLY didn’t have time. I told her what I’m telling you…
If you want this breakthrough, you have to make the time and you have to do the work. Period. I don’t mean to be hard, I just love you enough to tell you the truth. This is what it’s going to take and nobody can do it for you. We can only point you to Jesus and pray you through.
3. Ask God for an Encounter with Him.
Let me preface this one by saying I put equal weight on every item on this list—in the long run, you need them all. However, if there was ever a magic bullet to change everything for you, it’s an encounter with God.
An encounter can take infinite shapes and forms because it comes from God and He’s creative! He likes to do the unexpected and He knows exactly what it will take to get our undivided attention. That being said, here’s how I would describe it so you know what you’re asking Him for:
An encounter is when God shows up very tangibly in your life and touches you in a personal and undeniable way. Sometimes He speaks to your heart and you just know it was Him, sometimes you feel His presence so powerfully that no one can convince you otherwise, sometimes it’s a dream, vision, instruction, or a prophetic message from another believer. Other times He causes something to happen that can’t be explained by anything besides the grace of God. The bottom line is— you will know like you KNOW that you just experienced a very personal encounter with the Living God. You will know on a new level that He is real because He just made Himself real to you. I promise you that the reality of a God who cares enough to reveal Himself to you in this way is nothing short of life-changing.
Just ask for this every day until it happens. And then keep asking. It’s so powerful. You’ll see! He’ll start to show up and blow your mind.
“You have not because you ask not.” -James 4:2
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
4. Pursue Healing for your Soul.
God works in mysterious ways and sometimes pursuing the first three items on this list diligently is enough to change everything. While I never want to limit God, more often than not we’ll need to dig deeper to bridge the gap between God and ourselves, and ultimately our family and ourselves.
When we enter into marriage, we’ve already lived a lot of life. There’s tons of baggage that we both bring into the marital covenant when proper measures for soul healing aren’t completed beforehand. (They almost never are.) We bring wounds, habits, fears, and all sorts of bad “relationship” tools. For most of us, it’s going to require some soul healing to come into the fullness and freedom of everything God has for us in relationships. This absolutely, unequivocally includes conquering the loneliness that is hiding deep down in our hearts.
There are lots of ways to go about this. Many churches offer ministries for inner healing, you can look into Sozo, or you can go the route that worked best for me with the Restoring Relationships Ministry. The name “Restoring Relationships” might make you think it’s just for troubled marriages (it CAN work miracles in troubled or even broken marriages), but it’s first and foremost about your relationship with God. You can check out my family’s Restoring Relationships story here or visit their website here.
You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you. ~Song of Solomon 4:7
Beloved one, please know that I see you. I’ve been where you are. I know the grief and isolation all too well. Please don’t stay there. While the answer may not seem easy, it is simple. Turn back to the one who knit you together in your mother’s womb and is the only solution to every problem and need. Press into Him and let Him heal you.
Jesus is waiting for you in the secret place. He knows you better than you know yourself. He knows the number of hairs on your head (Luke 12:7) and He’s collecting all of your tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8)—you are that precious to Him.
There’s also some work waiting for you. To get through this, you have some choices to make—but they’re really not all that hard when you consider the alternative. Shift your perspective— look to God who can fill every need instead of your husband and children who, conversely, need you. Make time for Him—no matter what it takes. Ask Him for a life-changing encounter every day until you receive it. And seek Him for the healing of your soul which will make every relationship more pure and fulfilling for you.
I am praying for you, dear heart. You are amazing and we’ll get through this together. As I leave you with your thoughts and in the capable and trustworthy hands of Holy Spirit, here’s a short playlist of my favorite songs to remind you of God’s unfailing love and presence. I love to listen to them at moments just like this one: http://bit.ly/2q7cnM5
Here are my favorite scriptures to meditate on during seasons of loneliness:
This post was written as part of the JORD Watches Influencer Program and is sponsored by JORD Watches. All opinions are mine only and do not reflect the opinions of JORD Watches.
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