Monday, February 14, 2011

Lonely Hearts Club

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, saves those whose spirit is crushed.” Psalms 34: 19

It’s amazing how lonely we can feel at times, isn’t it? We can be in a crowded room full of people and still feel all alone. We can be surrounded by noise and activity and still feel small and overlooked. A young lady I met recently on retreat told me about how much fun she had in life and how busy her life was with musical practice, girl scouts, sports and youth group, but then the next day her facebook status read “Utterly lonely…again”. I think all of us are searching, yearning for someone to know us, to know our hearts, to see us for who we really are. Not see us for the way we look or dress, not see us for the masks we wear, not see us for the things we hide out of fear, but really, truly know us and see our hearts and souls. And when we don’t have this our hearts can ache. Especially on a day like today, when the world is celebrating love, the irony is that some people feel even more alone than ever. And when we succumb to these very real feelings and dwell on them, then Satan has us just where he wants us.

The reality is that a lot of sins in the world are committed out of loneliness and a desire to be loved. I think Satan is always trying to isolate and divide and conquer. He likes to get us alone and afraid---afraid we’ll always be alone, afraid of not being loved, afraid of not being worthy, afraid of not meeting whatever passing standards have been set by our ever-changing culture. And so people compromise their beliefs, or put them to the side for a few moments, or cast them aside entirely, so that they can do whatever they want to ease the loneliness in their hearts, if only for a few minutes. But in the end, whenever we do things out of fear, the results leave us feeling more alone and more empty and more isolated than before. And thus begins a vicious downward cycle for many people in hopelessness and despair.

So how do we protect ourselves from this way of thinking and acting? How do we keep positive and free from fear when our hearts desire companionship and intimacy? Well, when I was 18 years old and suffering the emotional pain of a break-up, my parents gave me a framed letter with words from St. Anthony written in 1247 AD. This letter changed my life. Here are some highlights to help all those today feeling lonely, overlooked or brokenhearted:

“Everyone longs to give themselves completely to someone—to have a deep soul relationship with another, to be loved thoroughly and exclusively. But God to a Christian says, ‘No, not until you are satisfied with living loved by Me alone and have an intensely personal relationship with Me alone. I love you, My child, and until you discover that only in Me is your satisfaction, you will not be capable of the perfect human relationship that I have planned for you….I want you to have the best. Please allow Me to bring it to you—just keep watching Me, expecting the greatest things—keep experiencing that satisfaction, knowing that I Am. Keep learning and listening to the things I tell you…don’t be anxious. Don’t worry! Don’t look around at the things others have gotten or that I have given them…just keep looking to Me or you will miss what I want to show you. I am God. Believe and be satisfied.’”

What comfort these words brought to my hurting heart. And with them as my balm, I began to stop looking for a love that might temporarily fix my loneliness and instead focused on my relationship with Christ, for months and months, until I was sincerely ready to live my life being loved by Him alone; until the fear of loneliness was smothered by the awesome reality of His love for me. And I was satisfied. Then, and only then, as St. Anthony prophesied, was I ready to meet the human expression of God’s love for me in the form of my future wife.

God does not want us to be lonely. He does not want us to live by ourselves for ourselves. He wants us to first and foremost be in an intimate relationship with Him, so that no matter the circumstances in life, we will never be truly alone. As we celebrate this day of love, let us put more time and attention into our relationship with Jesus, so that from this relationship, all of our relationships, current and future, will be marked in Truth and charity, free from the fear of loneliness and sin.

Dear Jesus, make my heart like Your heart and embrace the fullness of love You have for me. Give me the grace to be satisfied with Your love alone, so that I can experience all the goodness and joy You have planned for my life, free from fear and sin. Amen.

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