Something you may or may not know about me, is that I’m a major extrovert. I have always really loved to be around people, and have always strived to be very inclusive in every realm of my life. I want everyone to feel like they are taken care of, that they fit in, and to enjoy themselves. This can be a fault sometimes because it means that I spend a lot of time looking after others and then tend to neglect myself. This has meant that for most of my life, being alone has been a hard thing for me to do. For most of my life I attributed being alone to being insignificant because of my extroverted way of thinking. It wasn’t until this past year of my life that I realized that my identity cannot be extracted from any social status. My identity must come from a very different source.
For 29 years of my life, I gave too much value to my friendships. I spent most of my middle school years of life emotionally depressed because I felt like I had no friends, I had no one in my life who actually understood the core of my being. I wondered if I would ever truly have a best friend or if my life really had any purpose. When I found Jesus as an 18 year old, he really turned my life around. I began to look to Him for acceptance and love and value more than I did the relationships around me. I finally understood and believed that God had a purpose for my life, but I still struggled with some pretty intense feelings of loneliness. Even surrounded by amazing people at a great Christian college, I still never felt like anyone was truly genuine, including myself. I craved and searched for this real community that I could never really define, could never even offer to others, and therefore never found.
About a year ago, God finally broke me down. The struggle with loneliness really took a toll on my relationship with the Lord all of those 11 years. I blamed Him for the sadness and lack of fulfillment. Because of this, I found it hard to trust Him, and made most of the decisions in my life for myself. I turned my back on God, and eventually found myself in a place where I had no choice but to turn to Him, face my fears, and surrender it all. It was only then, in my brokenness and with courage, that I finally realized the problem: I was still looking to the relationships around me for identity, purpose, and meaning. I was expecting too much of them. I thought I had left that way of thinking years ago, but it was clear as day to me that I had never fully embraced God’s identity for me. I had finally realized that no one would ever be able to fill me the way that God can.
We can never find what we’re looking for if we’re just looking for it in other broken, imperfect people.
As I surrendered, it involved a lot of hard things. I gave up a lot of friendships, I gave up a church family, and I gave up the identities that I had built for myself through them all. I spent a lot of time alone with God and my notebook, and I just let Him reshape me. I really focused on patching up my relationship with Him, and through that process, I didn’t have a lot of deep friendships. I didn’t need them or even crave them, and I still don’t. I know that someday God will allow me to find an amazing community that I’ve never experienced before. But I know now not to crave or seek after it. I have trust that God will allow it to happen organically when the time is right.
Relationships with people can’t be forced!
I am so thankful for that hard first six months of 2016. I’m so thankful that God was patient with me, and helped me to finally learn where my identity lies. External things don’t arouse the same reaction out of me anymore, especially the things that I know are out of my control. I’m finally in a season of complete contentment, and I honestly can’t explain how I got here. All I know is that God did it, and it took a lot of hard work.
This quote by Oswald Chambers has really been the summary of what God has done in my life this year:
After you have gone through the fire, there will be nothing that will be able to trouble or depress you. When another crisis arises, you will realize that things cannot touch you as they used to do.
God has taught me about true contentment and also about full dependence on Him. Things cannot touch me as they used to because He is finally at His rightful place, in charge of my life.