by Kati Smith
Tucked away in the most unassuming of places on my college campus was a chapel. Only four small pews deep and heavy with silence, this place served a hideaway. There were 100 girls my age living on my same floor in the dorms, sharing the same hallway, the same bathrooms, and the same rickety old washing machine. And yet, I found that stealing a few minutes inside the four walls of that tiny sanctuary was the only place and time I felt like I was known.
For some of you, your high school years are full of fun and girlfriends, or your college years in a dorm are going great. Maybe you have sorority sisters or you made friends in a new place instantly, the kind you’ll keep forever. Perhaps you just graduated college and moved to a new city, a new state. Possibly you’ve already found a community, you already feel known and loved.
If that’s you, stop reading this because this isn’t a message for you. Stop reading this and instead take a moment to thank God for each friend you have, for the rich blessing of familiar faces. Don’t take them for granted. Be present with them and soak up all it means to live in community because it is a gift.
For the rest of us, the ones who are wandering through a barren, dry, lonely phase of life, please keep reading and please hear my words…
I get it. You are not alone in feeling alone.
I find myself in this place again. A few months ago I made the lonely move to Texas where I didn’t know a soul. I quickly found myself feeling like I was back in the college dorm room, listening to the laughter coming from the rooms full of girls who had friends, alone.
It would be an injustice if I told you that the answer is finding community. So many people have said to me since moving that I needed to just jump in, find a church, and try harder to make friends. All of those things are great and true, but maybe there’s something bigger.
Come close and I’ll let you in on a secret…
Some of the loneliest times in my life have proven to be the times when I feel closest to God, when I hear Him most clearly.
In the times we realize we are alone, we see our greatest need for the Lord. We get busy and distracted so often, and it’s just like a merciful God to bring us to a place where we have nothing left but Him. He wants us, sometimes, to have no one else to lean on so we can lean into Him.
So, perhaps for a season God will have you facing this loneliness. Believe, though, that He will be right there with you in the midst, and He will be faithful to bring you out of it.
In that little chapel I would carry my tissue and my Bible and sit in the front where no one behind me could see my tears. I found Psalm 119 and it became my anthem, my battle cry from the pew. Each day I would read the same verses over and over.
The verses aren’t about loneliness, so I can’t tell you why they helped. I tell you this hoping that when you read Psalm 119 (yes, ALL of it!) you will find the same comfort, the same firm truth in His word. Today I pray for you that this time alone would be a season you could look back on and see the tangible evidence of God’s sweet love and grace for you.
“My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.” (Psalm 119:50)
When has God let you experience the dark feelings of loneliness, only to let you draw nearer to Him?