Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Two Lonelinesses

How timely. I was feeling ... not really lonely at this moment, but alone. (I think the two are similar, but not the same.) Then read Huanyan's two posts on loneliness.

From 2008:
Loneliness is perhaps something that will happen in this highly competitive environment, where people dun slow down and those who can't catch up got left behind. I sometimes think of the church community almost entering into this stage. Not saying that people cannot grow at their own pace, as I must admit that I myself grow at a fast pace in the beginning of my Christian walk as well. But loneliness is a phenomenon that is hard to explain.

From 2010:
The man who serves God wholeheartedly is lonely indeed. To put it in a more real sense, I need to admit that I do feel lonely at times when I am serving God. I can kneel down and pray and pray and pray, but there is this inexplicable loneliness that continually haunt me. It is a feeling that I am sure most people would feel, the feeling that comes from giving and giving and giving and yet no one ever understands, or at least no one seems to understand. This is not the fault of God nor the fault of the church. On deeper reflection, it reflects a yearning for understanding, for someone to empathise and share the vision, for someone who can run the race together. Running marathon alone is one of the most horrendous experience. I do that every year. Yet, every year when I run, I see people who run the marathon together, and they strive to finish the marathon together despite the fact they may be running slowly.

I so love what he wrote! :) He described very well what the man who desires to do the will of God has felt. Because I have experienced both. I remember back during my tertiary days, I felt very lonely many times, because when those around you seem to be selected as a 'batch' to go for leadership training, etc... and you see them sharing lives, laughing together and so on, while you sit there at HQ, among them, listening in to familiar, yet unfamiliar topics. And you feel the pain of being left out, with the feeling of being 'less spiritually mature'. And even if that were true, it didn't help one bit.

The loneliness of being left out.

I guess that would be the pain of being left out in the fields, because your spiritual development was slower. But again then, thank God for wiser brothers who helped me see the whole aim of spiritual growth was not to get a "leadership" role but something even more challenging: To be like Christ in all I say and think and do. And to be always led by the Spirit, going where He wants you to go, and staying where He wants you to stay.

Ah. Which would go on to the next point.

The loneliness of being set apart.

It's difficult, isn't it? God has placed a burden, a calling in your heart. Or you have a strong desire to be in a relationship. But you do your utmost to train yourself in godliness... And you also have to be courageous to actually be yourself and not try to be someone else. (I find the temptation to act like someone else can be very strong - primarily because of fear of rejection. So I think it takes more courage to be yourself than to be someone else.) So there's the loneliness of walking (or stumbling) along the way of holiness. But sometimes you see guys who have spent time grooming themselves winning the sisters' hearts, and you wonder whether it is worth seeking God and wanting to be like Him. The temptation to throw aside and join the rest of the world can be strong.

I know about that we can balance. But sometimes, it's hard to find the balance - also because of your natural personalities and flaws. And not to mention the unique calling that God gave you. Difficult, right?

Just some musings. I share these feelings, not so much in terms of looking for a solution, but as a means of painting a better picture to describe the feelings of confusion and struggle when you choose to follow Christ. It is so... tempting to just conform to the pattern of this world. So easy. So hard not to.


Just to add: And it's not much assurance when you read in the Bible that sometimes life just won't be fair. That you might... actually, WILL suffer. Well, no fine print here - just big bold block letters that warn us of the difficulties and pains that lie ahead. Rewards, yes, but that's up to God's timing. Some He'll give on this side of eternity... the others, He'll give when you see Him.

But sometimes you just have to bear and keep marching on in the meantime.

As one old woman said, "Life isn't easy. But God is good."

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