I wished the small room would open up and swallow me whole. Just envelop me into an abyss that would simultaneously hide me and remove me.
It’s painful to be in a crowded room and feel all alone.
Everyone had someone. Their chatting and laughing lilted in a symphony of connection. I looked around, and there wasn’t a soul I recognized.
My brain demanded I just walk up and introduce myself to someone — anyone. But my heart sensed they were all knee-deep in conversations that would be super awkward for me to break into.
Isn’t it strange how you can literally rub shoulders with lots of people but feel utterly alone? Proximity and activity don’t always equal connectivity.
On the surface, connectivity seems to require that I connect with other people, and they connect back with me. Of course that gathering was an extreme example of being alone in a crowded room, but that feeling isn’t sequestered to that one incident.
I can get it when things grow cold and too quiet with a family member. And deep down inside of me, I want to ask for forgiveness, but my pride is holding all my kind words hostage. So the silent treatment continues. And though we’re in the same house, we’re nowhere near connecting.
Or that feeling can happen when I’m with a group of women, and I can’t quite seem to break into the conversation. I mentally beat myself up for not being more brilliant, or caught up on the world’s current events and fashion trends. They all seem so effortlessly on top of everything.
In each of these situations I’m with people. But I’m so very alone.
And I secretly ponder how the events of that day clearly point out other people’s issues: their self-focus, their past problems, their insensitivity.
But the problem wasn’t the people at the party. The problem wasn’t my family or that group of women. It was me not being prepared in advance with a fullness that can only come from God.
It was as if I walked into each of these situations suddenly feeling like I wouldn’t be able to breathe unless someone else invited me in. The whole room was full of completely breathable air, but since I refused to take it in, I suffered.
I can’t expect any other person to be my soul oxygen. I can’t live as if my next breath depends on whether or not they give me enough air for my lungs not to be screaming in pain.
No, it’s not wrong to need people. But some of our biggest disappointments in life are the result of expectations we have for others, which they can’t ever possibly meet. That’s when the desire to connect becomes an unrealistic need.
Here’s the secret shift I’ve learned we must make:
Do I walk into situations prepared with the fullness of God in me, free to look for ways to bless others?
Do I walk into situations empty and dependent on others to look for ways to bless me?
People prepared with the fullness of God in them are not super-people with pixie dust sparkles of confidence. No, the fullness of God is tucked into the sacred places within them. The full taking in of God is their soul oxygen. It’s not that they don’t need people. They do. God created them for community. But the way they love is from a full place, not from an empty desperation. They live loved.
And this is how I want to live, too.
Being full of God’s love settles, empowers and brings out the best of who we are. His love quiets us deep within, just like our key verse Zephaniah 3:17 reminds us.
And when we live from the abundant place that we are loved, we won’t find ourselves begging others for scraps of love. We’ll be ready to walk into a room and share the love we already know is ours.
Dear Lord, thank You so much for the way that You love me — with a love that can never be shaken, taken or tarnished. Help me look to You and You alone to fill and satisfy my heart. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.