'He will cover you with His wings and under His wings, you will find refuge,' ~ Psalm 91 vs 4
Loneliness often gets lumped in with sorrow or quickly lead to it or depression but I want to tackle it as a separate thing with this post.
The type of loneliness that creeps up on you out of nowhere when you were perfectly fine five minutes previous. The type of loneliness that just always seems to be there and every now and then you recognise it but move on. It goes under the guise of 'peer pressure'.
I often get this and have done from I when was little. I was never the popular one at school (most people aren't) but I frequently found myself on my own and still do. Always just left there to sit and stare back at the others. I can be as positive as I want in dealing with the situation, try to join in only to have the other party get aggressive with my presence or if they deal with it, they half heartedly involve me so I still walk away thinking I was just a nuisance.
That's the sort of loneliness I want to talk about. That sudden 'did I say something wrong?' feeling. The feeling you get, ladies in particular, when an older member of your family asks you about boyfriends or when you're getting married. (My own mother makes a joke that my man will be grey by the time I get to him 😐 ) When most of your year at school are engaged or parents to one or a few children. When most people your age have their own home and have had their own car for a few years when you don't even have a license. When it feels like everyone is doing something grand with their time here and you're wasting yours.
These are things that get to me from time to time and they get to me because this is what I feel I'm lacking in my life when I compare it to others. That's the type of peer pressure I deal with but I know it'll be different for different people at different ages.
But as a Christian, I know those things aren't as important as society makes them out to be. I focus on my spiritual Father and His law of love in order to fulfill my life and that's what I try to put at the forefront. All those things, the car, the house, the money, the holidays, the family, that will come in time. And if it doesn't, it doesn't matter. I've got what I need. This is what I believe in my heart and I fight to hold onto it every day because it's also the biggest trigger for bouts of peer pressure.
Christians stand out like a sore thumb because they are so harshly stigmatized by society. I feel as though, I can't do anything because of my faith.
'gasp' she doesn't swear, because she's a Christian.
'gasp' she doesn't go out every weekend, because she's a Christian.
'gasp' she's against cruelty to animals, because she's a Christian.
'gasp' she doesn't believe in war, because she's a Christian.
'gasp' she doesn't like casual sex, because she's a Christian.
'gasp' she doesn't wear short skirts & high heels, because she's a Christian.
'gasp' she cried when you killed that bug, because she's a Christian.
'gasp' she doesn't like jam and butter together on her toast, because she's a Christian.
Okay, that last one was a stretch 😀 but often when I say I don't like something it often gets put down to my spiritual status. True, the major ones like sex before marriage and the idea of peace is a ripple effect of my beliefs but it also has a lot to do with my own feelings and respect for life.
That alone can be painful because they are the major ones that cause peer pressure.
I always imagine peer pressure to be like a water meter that people put in their gardens to measure the rain fall. It just keeps filling up drop after drop, bit by bit until it eventually overflows.
I felt like that this week. Over the weeks it has just kept building and building until eventually I was reduced to tears and feeling very left out and lonely.
My co-workers didn't get out for a 'Christmas do' so decided on last Saturday. All through January my Boss was in a 'let's get drunk' mood, slipping it into conversations every now and then.
Lonely trigger No.1 - I don't drink.
I don't like the taste of it, I don't like the smell of it, don't like how overpriced it is and certainly do not like what it does to people in large qaunties so I wasn't to fussed on going to begin with. Then the plans changed to getting something to eat as well. The place they decided on has a meat filled menu.
Lonely trigger No.2 - I've just made the decision to become a vegetarian.
There would have been nothing I could have eaten. I would have wasted a steak because I ordered it simply to get the potatoes and vegetables around it. I thought, maybe if I swallowed my pride and just eat it to simply fit in, at least I showed up for a while. But then remembered why I've chosen to not eat meat. I told God all about it and you have to be careful what you promise to Him because He remembers and holds you to it.
I could have but never thought of it at the time, I could have ordered a meal but have brought the meat back for someone else or my dog. But I wonder if I had thought of that, would I have felt worried about looking silly?
It was pretty obvious that it wasn't going to work out for me. I had the furthest to travel anyway so I thought 'I'm sure it will be fine if I don't go. No big deal.'
So I didn't.
I'm on holidays currently but had to show up for a meeting on Tuesday night on customer service and got the feeling that I was being slightly shunned. Everyone was talking about the funny things that happened while I sat there looking confused.
Lonely meter beginning to rise.
Jokes filtered the entire meeting about one of the guys who had too much to drink and I was the only one not laughing because I didn't get them.
Rising some more.
Since the company wasn't paying for the extra hour, they allowed money to be taken from the till to buy food, so pizza was ordered and I sat eating the plain cheese only for there to be a slight misunderstanding on whether or not I ate chicken. There was half a joke that I should order my own next time followed by an awkward pause.
That one hurt, so we're reaching the brim now on the lonely meter.
On the way out, I was clearly being ignored at this point. Every one was still discussing the night out complete with pictures on their phone and what really hurt, was one of the girls I am quite friendly with, completely blanked me and didn't even say goodbye.
Now, I realise this is all one sided. It could just have been a good night for them and they were all acting naturally and have jokes about it. That's fine. My friend was working that day and probably just wanted to go home. That's fine too.
But I still got home and cried. The feeling of being so out of place was so immense that the lonely meter overflowed and I couldn't hold it in.
I regretted not going. I regretted not drinking. I regretted all the weekends I was happy to stay home. I regretted becoming a vegetarian. All the decisions I had made that I felt were truest to me, without any kind of influence from anyone, and what I believe in were suddenly irrelevant and I was stupid for making them. I just wanted to fit in and angry that I never have, angry that I'm still the last one standing for the team and just added to one because no one else cared. Into my twenties and still being made to feel 15.
Only a small moment in life over something fairly insignificant but a big moment of peer pressure for me.
Remember earlier when I said, God remembers what you promise to Him and yourself? Here's how God reminded me.
It started to rain. I heard it on the window and remembered a time when I had to stand alone in the rain. I think I was still going to college, I can't remember when, only that I had missed my bus and had to stand for another half hour. All by myself at the bus stop with the rain pelting down. I remember being cold and tired and hungry, soaked through and just wanting to go home. I remember fumbling around in my pocket to plug my ear phones in to listen to some music and take my mind off everything. As I listened, staring out at all the cars hurrying past and splashing me some more in the process, I suddenly got this image of an angel lifting a wing to shelter me. A massive big wing acting like a large, fluffy, warm umbrella.
And I couldnt help but smile to myself and thought if I ever learnt how to paint properly, I would paint this moment and call it 'The Last Bus'.
A lone figure standing in the rain, smiling as the last bus drives off and not caring one bit.
I thought, even if my last chance to go home went by, if the last chance to get married went past and I never partnered with anyone or had children to pass my precious treasures to, if I never own my own home or car, or had exciting experiances abroad, if I was to stand in the rain with God simply because He wanted me there, I'd do it, because I'd be leaving Him otherwise. I could stand on my own for the rest of my life and it wouldn't matter, no matter what others opinion of me was or for how long they kept me by myself because I wasn't really on my own.
I am with the only one I seek approval from.
As a Christian, this is my goal in life. To walk with God in all I do no matter what that means to me.
But as another physical human being, I get caught up in this world and what other people feel is best for me because that's their opinion of this life, that's how they feel is the best way to live life and how they choose to live their life, and I do forget about Him. I loose track for a moment until He comes knocking on my window with the rain, reminding me that this is my life and I'm the only who gets to live it and it's a precious gift from Him. He reminds me of myself, I am a deeply sensitive person with a lot of love to give and it naturally extends to my environment and all the animals and plants in it.
'I want to be happy, Father' I told Him the following day, staring out my bedroom window at a river, glistening on an odd sunny day in February.
'I really want to be happy with my life and whatever that may mean to me,'
'Happiness for you is staring at a glistening river on a sunny day,' He replied.
We are made differently. We'll all have our own talents and weakness. We all find joy in different things but our ultimate joy will always be with God and His ultimate joy is when you remember to include Him in your life as well no matter what that is. Don't leave Him standing when He wants to be on your team. Talk to Him, tell Him everything and anything and He never fails to reply.
Because He's just that cool 😎
'You are not a diamond, you are not a shining star,
It doesn't mean you are not perfect exactly as you are'
~ lyrics from You Are Not by Young Guns