OK…it’s time I write about the loneliness issue…the loneliness I faced after I left the meetings. I have been putting this off for weeks because it really makes me feel very vulnerable. My insecurities have all surfaced. I’ve had inner dialogues such as: “I can just hear so-and-so saying, ‘It serves her right.’ Or, “Of course she’s lonely; she walked away from all her friends.” Or, “That’s the very reason we (I) haven’t left. Or, “That is really foolish of her to write about that in the first place.” Great inner dialogue, eh? Guess who I was listening to? Satan. Guess who I wasn’t listening to? God.
I don’t believe we’re really ministering unless we are being real and honest. None of us have it all together. None. I heard tonight at Bible study, “If we walked into a perfect church, we’d wreck it!” I just do not want to come across here on this blog as ever thinking I’ve got this all figured out.
I have one journal entry to refer to from 5-31-06
“I had a phone call with ______ today and she helped me see so clearly where I am right now. How I don’t need to be insecure in my spiritual journey. She just reinforced to me that she loves me as a friend no matter what. And that she will be my friend no matter what. That meant so much to me because if I lose friends from the meetings because of my choices, then maybe we truly only had a conditional friendship. Yes, that will hurt if that happens but I can cling even more to the One whose friendship with me is real and is eternal.”
That phone conversation was with one of the friends who also used to be in the Work and she has remained true to that conversation. She has not judged me and I have not judged her. We are still in touch and I value her and her friendship.
I had forgotten about that conversation but I certainly have not forgotten about the reality of that conversation. I have said several times since leaving the meetings that had I known in advance how lonely I would be at times, I might not have left. It was the kindness and commitment of God that hid that fact from me for a season.
After the death of my mother in the spring of 2003, I felt more alone than I ever had. That was the greatest loss I had walked through. Fast forward three years and now I was seriously considering leaving not just the meetings but also my entire social system.
The fellowship has a strong sense of community and that feeling of belonging is something I think we all long for and need. Perhaps that is why convention meant so much to me. We were all together; we were all alike, loved and accepted. For 4-5 days we weren’t ‘weird’ in the world’s eyes because the “world” wasn’t there. We were safe.
Walking away from your entire community of friends is a paramount decision. I wanted things to remain the same but there is no way they could have. The fellowship believes they are the only group of people right with God and I no longer believed that. I couldn’t have fellowship with that kind of thinking anymore.
God had spoken very, very clearly to me shortly after I came home to care for my mother that I knew the workers and friends better than I knew Him. For the next 7-8 years I concentrated almost entirely on getting to know God. That had to happen and the aloneness had given me the perfect opportunity to do that. It was a rare gift.
A few people I’ve spoken with, who still go to meetings, admit the reason they stay in the group, even though a lot of things there drive them crazy, is because of their friends saying, “These are my people”. I understand that, but are they staying because of the people or because of God? As costly as it was to leave, the blessings of leaving have far outweighed the cost. The loneliness drove me to God. Can anything (and I mean anything!), be nothing short of good?
Reading back through my journals I have seen a recurring theme. Over and over I was begging God to send me new friends. I would get mad at God for not answering those prayers. But then, He would send one here and there. Some were only for a season; some stayed longer. He knew, however, that I still wasn’t ready for a super close friendship because He and I still had too much work to do in my heart and life.
It’s one thing to leave the meetings, but ask anyone who has and they will tell you that it’s a whole other story to get the meetings out of you. Why? Because we were so indoctrinated and there was so much fear and guilt attached, it was toxic. (Sorry guys, but it’s true. It wouldn’t be so hard to leave if something wasn’t seriously wrong with it.) I don’t know if I will ever get over some of that.
Now I felt judgmental but on the flip side. In the meetings, I was judgmental of the world. Away from the meetings, I was judgmental of the friends. Here is where I have known God’s work and mercy in such a personal and deep way as never before. He would not leave me alone until He and I had hashed this thing out. I had to quit judging and I had to quit being afraid of what the friends and workers think of me now. Neither of those attitudes was bringing me any peace. Feeling superior or inferior to other; neither were right and neither were helpful.
I remember speaking at convention one time about this very subject, so it’s been an issue with me for years. Being transparent is who I am; I just have been letting fear and pride keep that part of me hidden for years now so that I could give the illusion that I have it all together.
My point? God isn’t finished with me yet. If He was, He would have taken me home by now. Also, I want (Yearn) to get the message across how faithful He is. He came through!
Those lonely years….do you know how many times Jesus tapped me on the shoulder and said, “I’m here. You are not alone.” How sweet His presence was? How loyal and supportive His friendship has been? Would I trade that for sings, potlucks get togethers? No! Beth Moore (Christian author and teacher) says, “Accept the beauty of the process.”
Yes, I still miss certain people in the fellowship and I wonder where they are in their spiritual journey.
I’m alone often now but seldom lonely. I have some wonderful friends now. Godly friends; friends I can talk with, worship with, cry with, pray with. All God-picked. A couple of them still go to meetings. Most of the rest used to go to meetings but are Christians. I have a wonderful Christian boss and work with a solid rock Christian gal as well. God is faithful; He not only knows what we need but who we need. He just needs to know we trust Him with our entire journey. It’s an exciting ride!