I have always thought of "alone" as negative, bringing on other words such as "rejection" and "abandoned". It summons memories of sobbing by myself in my room or walking through a crowded hallway, unseen.
Alone. I have experienced loneliness.
Freshman year, I felt so alone. I remember thinking that high school was a great, big magical place, and I was so ready to kill everyone with kindness. I remembered this one girl in my second grade class who always smiled at everyone and was so, so sweet. Everyone loved her. I wanted to be like that-- liked by everyone, friends with everyone.
But then...the people I smiled at didn't all smile back. Most looked away or didn't even meet my eyes to begin with. I tried to be friends with everyone, but there must have been something wrong with my methods, because it didn't really work.
So, I shut down. I stopped trying...and bitterness grew inside of me.
In the three years after ninth grade, so much happened. I continued to experience various forms of loneliness, but was mostly able to stifle it with "friends" (loose definition of the term at times). Until the start of this school year.
Senior year. It's a crazy thing. And the thing about the crazy thing is that it brings about a lot of change. For one reason or another, I found myself alone. The majority of my friends living out of town and having lost touch with the rest, I didn't really have anyone to just hang out with or grab coffee with or other typical friend stuff.
Loneliness. It can be crushing.
Earlier this year, I was venting on the phone to my cousin about how alone I felt. She had the most Holy Spirit-filled response: "What is God using this time to teach you? Maybe He just wants some Annie time."
That was such a huge slap in the face-- in a good way.
Maybe He just wants some Annie time.
We're so quick to be negative about when we're alone. But maybe our loneliness is a reminder of something more...that we weren't created for this world. We weren't created to be satisfied by these people that surround us. Loneliness is a scream from our hearts for God.
Because without Him, even what we see as the "best" of relationships is absolutely pointless.
I have come to believe that Jesus has allowed me to go through times of loneliness to get rid of the temptation to fill myself with other people. In times of loneliness, Jesus has showed me that He alone can fill me and that He alone will remain faithful.
I ask God "why" all the time, especially when I've gone through alone time. A verse that really answers that question is Sirach 39:21:
"No cause then to say, 'what is the purpose of this?' For everything is chosen to satisfy a need."
So what is my need? My ultimate need? To be filled by God, to let Him completely take over in every part of my life. Perhaps God chooses loneliness to satisfy that longing in our hearts for Him, by removing the distractions of other people.
Let's allow our loneliness to point us to a God whose arms are continually open and beckoning, despite wherever we've been. St. Paul tells us to rejoice in all things, so let us rejoice in the times when we feel alone!
And here's the best part: God will fill our hearts. It's not something we have to convince Him to do; He already longs to. Just think: when we're feeling alone or rejected, we feel but a shadow of His heart. Think of all of the people living without God, continually rejecting Him...and we've been a part of that very boat.
Jesus Christ alone can fill us. He alone can heal our lonely hearts. So let's surrender anew each day to His awesome, powerful love.