Tag Archives: lonely

Vulnerabilities: My journey through Psalms (103)

I debated on writing this post because my intention is not for people to feel sorry for me or to feel bad. The whole reason I started this blog was to promote my writing, which, as it happens, tends to focus on the vulnerabilities real people struggle with every day. So, as I was reading Psalm 103 I realized a lot of what I have been feeling is exactly what others have felt for thousands of years. Because, after all, we are humans and we struggle with a vast array of emotions that are interconnected throughout our lives and our own histories as well as the world’s history.

Eve ate the fruit, not because she was hungry, but because she was curious and eager to prove herself.

Abraham slept with Hagar because his wife Sarah was impatient and convinced God needed her help.

Bathsheba had an affair with David because he was rich and powerful, but also because he was there when her husband wasn’t.

We all do dumb things when we are curious, eager to prove ourselves, impatient, “helping” God, and alone. And at some point, we have all felt each one of these incredibly human emotions.

I’ve always found the holidays to be particularly challenging in that respect.  A plethora of human emotions washes over me during this time of the year. Joy in celebration, sure, but also…

  • eagerness to prove
  • impatience
  • a need to “help” God
  • loneliness

Every year I want to prove I am giving and happier to give than receive. Have you ever felt this? An inexplicable desire to prove, to no one in particular, that you are the ‘best’ giver? Maybe I’m alone in that, but sometimes when I’m busy trying to prove that I forget what the point of the gift is in the first place. Interesting how our desire to prove ourselves often proves nothing but our own selfishness. Ouch. It’s a good thing God “redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies” (103:4), because I definitely don’t deserve such grace.

My impatience is probably award-winning too. When I want something, I often want it right then. Especially if it has been promised to me, or if I don’t understand the purpose of waiting. And this one doesn’t apply just to the holidays. I am impatient and often live for the next moment rather than the moment I’m in. The mantra “I’ll be satisfied when…” is not one I am particularly proud of.  Fortunately, even in my impatience, “the Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love” (103:8).

And he doesn’t need my help. Even though I sometimes try to give it to him, he doesn’t need it. Ever. My impatience often leads to my own foolish decisions acting outside of God’s plan, but “He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever” (103:10). Which is good, because I probably deserve his wrath with the number of times I have tried to be in control (as you’re all probably aware given the number of times I’ve written about it).

What I struggle with the most this time of year is an echoing sense of loneliness. That’s stupid, right, since I have an amazing family who loves me and makes sure I know they love me. I have great friends who do the same! I’m not complaining in this post, just being honest. This year, it hit me particularly hard. As a 32-year-old single woman, I’m in a particularly weird life stage. Fitting into a ‘group’ just doesn’t happen, and that is never more evident than this time of year when people are throwing so many parties that couples have to turn down invitations because they’re overbooked. It’s not that people mean to leave out someone like me, but they think ‘oh it’s a couples party they won’t enjoy themselves,’ which is probably true because being the 3rd wheel sucks just as much. Or, in contrast, the single ladies are all a decade younger so the ‘party’ isn’t as enjoyable because our life experiences are just so vastly different. I’m not saying I’ve been sitting around feeling sorry for myself or in a state of depression–that is far from true. These are just observations I made over the past few weeks, particularly when that echo bounces around in my head, especially this year since I lost my beautiful chicken nugget, Emma, who in all her canine glory always made me feel so much less alone in the world.

Again, please don’t read this wrong. I’m not writing this to whine and complain, to make people feel bad or sorry for me! I’m writing this because God knows these feelings, all of them are what make us human and “he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust” (103:14) even when we are wrapped up in our own self-importance, indulgences, and even pity.

Ultimately God is good. He “gives righteousness and justice to all” (103:6) and his “unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the Earth” (103:11).

Because we all need that grace and mercy every once in a while.

After all, that’s why we celebrate Christmas, God’s grace and mercy made flesh. Accessible forever, for everyone. And that’s something worth celebrating. 

Invite God in. Then, see Blessings: My journey through Psalms 67-68

Tone matters.

I say this to my students on a fairly regular basis. Because as any parent knows, it’s often not WHAT you say but HOW you say it.

What.

That one word can convey a variety of different meanings based on tone.

What? [she asks, brows raised into the wrinkles of her forehead]

What. [he rolled his eyes and turned away]

What! [the hard edge to her tone carried all the impatience of a 36 hour shift]

Tone matters.

In Psalm 67-68 I see how tone matters

May God be gracious to us and bless us-and make his face shine upon us

THAT your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among the nations. 

These verses begin in third person as a plea, but end in second person as a breath of thankfulness.

Bless us God, not for our sake, but for the glory of your kingdom.

And there is a difference.

Blessings for the self are often pleas for materialism. But that is not what the psalmist is after. He is offering his blessings back to the Lord even BEFORE he gets them.

To the Western mind, or even human mind, this is baffling. Why would you praise someone for something they haven’t even given to you? Isn’t that a little presumptuous? You are just assuming that your answer will be yes, right?

Well, kind of. And I don’t think that is as presumptuous as it is faithful. You send invites to people because you EXPECT them to show up, right? I mean, it’s possible that they won’t, but if the expectation is for them to attend your party, then you invite them in. God is the same way. It’s hard to see God move if you continually treat him like your imaginary friend, praying to him JUST IN CASE he is real. Instead, when we pray as though we EXPECT him to move, He feels more INVITED to do so and suddenly we can really feel him move in our lives.

Expectation is invitation, as my pastor is fond of saying.

Tone matters.

May he peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. THEN the land will yield it’s harvest (67:7-8)

Praise equals harvest; not harvest equals praise.

But often we wait for the blessings before we invite God to the party. How rude! That’s like sending a wedding invitation to someone you don’t like just so you can get more presents. No. Just no. We invite God to the party and then He showers us with his love and blessing in his own way. Seeing is not believing, believing is SEEING.

God is a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows [and perpetually single women] … he sets the lonely in families. (68:5a; 6a).

He gives hope, love and blessings to the lonely, but only if we invite him in.