Have you ever heard the saying, “the very thing you are avoiding is exactly what you need”?
Today, I do not want to write. Not these words. Not this topic. I would rather let this wave crash upon the shores of the beach and roll back out to sea, waiting for more favorable conditions. This is a topic that has been lingering in my mind like a thick heavy fog. It all started with a dream.
Feels Real to Me
Have you ever have a dream that is very real? A dream that is tangible and the feelings created by it are visceral. When your eyes open you were able to recall the details of the dream, but the moment of awakening happened before there was conclusion or resolution to what was taking place.
I had one such dream the other night. In my dream I was at a place very similar to the churches that I have gone to. Rows of chairs filled an auditorium type of space, a couple sections deep and wide with wide walkways in between. There was a stage set front and center.
I found myself sitting amidst a full house crowd. Beautiful worship music filled the air. People were standing and engaged in praising God in rich fullness. A very moving environment. I felt led to go forward for prayer for myself, to share a burden that was on my heart in hopes that it would be lifted.
As I began to make my way to the nearest aisle and to walk forward the music began fading. The people in the crowd were no longer worshipping. They were gathering their things, and filing out into the aisle to leave, some conversing quietly with one another.
Slowly I kept walking forward, step by step by step. It was almost as if no one could see me or recognize me. I saw vividly familiar faces. Family members, close friends, and acquaintances mixed in among the crowd.
A few seemed to look straight into my eyes, but they kept walking as if they had not seen me at all. No light of acknowledgment in their eyes.
The further forward I went, the quieter things became. No stage lights. No one on stage. Only a few dim house lights. The rows before me empty. Rows of vacant chairs behind. A soft murmur of muted conversation in the atrium at the back.
Until it was only stillness. Until it was only me. There I was left alone.
That was the moment my eyes opened. The dream had ended in such a way that it felt deeply unfinished.
I laid in bed listening to the sound of my own breath, not knowing what time it was and desperately attempting to get my mental bearings of what I had just experienced. Not to mention this odd mix of emotions that I had awoken in to.
This was not a nightmare, but it was something that I could not brush off lightly (although I have tried doing just that).
The first Bible verse to come to my head was, “never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” I couldn’t remember the scripture reference as I laid in bed, but I figured I had a truth I could repeat until I got back to sleep. It was still dark out.
I honestly could not tell you what time it was. I am strongly near sighted, and unless I have my glasses on or a clock fairly close to my nose I can’t read it. All I knew was that I was awake. Then my husband’s alarm went off. That solidified the fact that the day had begun. There would be no resleep reset for me mentally.
Many nights I have no awareness of dreams, if I even have them. I fall asleep hard only to be awaken to the alarm what feels like moments later. So what do I do with this?
My plan was to do nothing. To just press on navigating the tides and currents of daily life until the memories of this dream were washed completely away.
Yet, when I attempt to focus on writing in any shape or form, be it cards, or my journal, or my Bible study workbook or even a couple of emails, this dream resurfaces in my mind. This is especially true of when I have been working on material for this blog.
I thought perhaps I needed to take these thoughts captive and replace them with some truth. To me it seemed that the theme of my dream was being left alone, being deserted, or being abandoned. So I started by looking up the verse that came to me while I was laying in bed.
I pulled it up on Biblegateway.com so I could see Hebrews 13:5 listed in a wide array of translations. I will never leave you or abandon you. I will never fail you or abandon you. I will not leave thee, neither will I forsake thee.
Then I screeched to a halt at Hebrews 13:5-6 (MSG)
“Don’t be obsessed with getting more material things.
Be relaxed with what you have. Since God assured us,
‘I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,’
we can boldly quote, God is there, ready to help;
I’m fearless no matter what. Who or what can get to me?“
How awesome is this line when God says…
‘I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,’
It was like God’s still small voice was saying, “I will never do to you what happened in your dream. I won’t walk off on you and leave you standing alone.”
The weird thing is that this was not a ground shaking, chain breaking revelation or encouragement to me. It left me thinking, “well, of course God, this is part of the core nature of Your character. It’s who You are. I know this.”
Then came the question, what does it mean to be left alone?
Since that question crossed my mind I have been trying to list all of the times that I could imagine feeling left alone.
- When someone physically leaves.
- When a relationship permanently ends.
- When I am speaking to someone but not being heard or listened to.
- When someone did not show up when they said they would.
- When I do not fit in with the people around me.
- When those people closest to me forget something that is very important to me.
- When I have done something wrong towards a person but they will not accept my apologies.
- When people avoid me.
- When things shared in confidence are spewed about freely.
- When people answer for me or make decisions on my behalf without speaking with me.
- When I am used for personal gain and then brushed aside.
- When I feel like I can’t measure up to a person’s expectations of what I should be or do.
- When I do wrong, when I sin, and when I mess up.
- When there is a lack of help or support.
- When people withdraw, not knowing what to say or do.
As I read and re-read this list I realized that I have experienced both sides very vividly. I have been left alone and have been the one who leaves. Both too many times to even count.
What if the dream is to make me aware of the circumstances in which I become lonely? Or the times I increase the amount of isolation in my own life? What if this dream is to make me more aware, more in tune to those suffering loneliness around me? Do I really have any idea what the degree of loneliness is in my own family and personal network?
Perhaps I am being given eyes to see and ears to hear in a new way to be of help with the message of hope that God will never walk off and leave you.
Live it Out
Are you feeling lonely or left alone?
Do you have pains from broken relationships, physical separations, not being listened to, being forgotten about, or overlooked? Do you feel like I did in my dream like there are people around on every side, but they see past you or through you? Do you feel left behind?
Is there anything in your life that you need to reflect upon or work through that you have been trying to avoid or brush off lightly? Much in the way I have tried to avoid working through this dream.
My dear reader, you are never left alone. The Lord is a BIG GOD, big enough to make sure that all of us are never without His presence and His attention. We are so limited in our time, talent, and treasures. God, however, is limitless.
You are a precious treasure and a beautiful gift. The Lord is great enough to make sure that you were designed in His imagine, giving you a worth beyond comprehension.
If the Lord calls you forward and then clears out the auditorium behind you, it’s not because He wants to leave you alone. He may have a unique treasure to bestow to you that requires an extra level of intimacy.
Pray Through It
Feeling lonely is an awful, hideous, sickening feeling. It’s not one we hope to feel in our days, but one that we are often confronted with in the circumstances of our lives. Please remind us as many times as we need that we are never left alone.
When we feel those pains and aches of loneliness, please make Your presence very tangible and our awareness to You very keen. Help us to be aware of the signs of suffering around us and the ways we can be of service to those who suffer.
As we want to be heard, help us listen. As we want to be included, help us invite. As we want to be forgiven, help us forgive. As we want to be seen, help us to behold. As we want to be remembered, help us be mindful. As we want to be supported, help us encourage.
In the name of Jesus who has never and will never leave us alone, amen.