As I'm sitting here in Volo Coffehouse on Main St., Manayunk, it's only 8:30am. :)
The sky outside is blue and bright, and people are in good spirits as they grab their morning cup of joe and settle down to work. (the temperature is supposed to be seventy-seven degrees today!)
As I sit with my own cup of joe, I'm reflecting on the posture of pain.
It's an uncomfortable concept of hurting.
Over the past couple weeks I've been trying to figure out whether to drive back home across the US either by myself or with one other person. If the choice exists, even my most causal of friends know that I don't like being alone and would never choose to drive by myself.
I don't know why, but I have never, ever liked being alone.
It's not that I'm just an extremely sociable, extroverted, high energy person who thrives in highly populated environments... I actually hate being alone.
It's uncomfortable. It's scary.
It's like finally, when all the noise has stopped, when the music has been turned off and my mind has finally stopped spinning from constant stimulation, there's a void.
I'm left with an empty space; a hollowness inside me.
So when faced with the idea of maybe possibly having to drive three thousand miles all by myself in a lonely little car for five days, I am terrified. (truly and absolutely terror-stricken)
Nu-uh, no way.
That emptiness is anything but lovely.
And then I pause.
What am I running from?
Obviously I don't like being alone. Obviously there is something I don't like that I'm trying to avoid.
And then I realized... it's pain.
My heart is hurting with a void I'm trying to fill with worldly pleasures.
So easily I take my eyes off the cross and onto consumerism.
So quickly I turn from the sacrifice of Christ to the success of me.
And it all becomes about me. How can I feel good? What brings me the most pleasure? What is the best adventure...?
And if I don't like it or it hurts, I run away.
The more noise the better, the more people the better, the more chaos the better. If I'm alone, it's hard to run from my own pain.
So I'm beginning to realize that dependence on Christ is not something that comes naturally or easy, and it's not a pleasant thing to give in to. It's uncomfortable and painful to let the Lord work in one's "empty space". And that "empty space" isn't really empty, it's just filled with things that never satisfy enough. So no matter how hard I run, no matter how hard I try to "fill the emptiness", the things that I run after aren't the answer.
If I busy myself enough I won't notice; but I have to get busier and busier. The margin of acceptable peace and quiet shrinks quickly as I'm constantly left looking for more.
It is the Lord alone who satisfies (Ps. 145:16), God only who can fill my deepest desires (Ps. 107:9). He is the creator of all things and sustainer of life (1 Cor. 8:6). Anywhere else I turn will not satisfy (Isa. 55:2) and anything I look to or search for will never be enough.
Knowing these truths have helped me come to terms with being alone. Though there are things I don't understand and that hurt, it's the painful process of growth into righteousness. Pain results from brokenness, and my spirit is broken apart from the Lord.
I think I'm beginning to see that I need the Lord in order for my heart to be healed. I thought I could be fine on my own, that I could keep running while blocking out the fact that I still feel unfulfilled no matter how hard I try. And this is where the Gospel speaks to me: "For by grace you have been saved... And this is not your own doing" (Eph. 2:8-9).
No matter how hard I try, I can't outrun God. No matter what worldly pleasures I seek to fulfill what I think I need, God alone satisfies the depths of my soul.
So I think I've come to terms with driving alone, with having silence surround me and a "void" in my day. Because those things that I think satisfy are really only artificial fillers. The real true Satisfier of my soul who made me and brought me into being knows exactly what I need. He alone fulfills me and heals my pain.
The sky is still blue and people have kept working and sipping
their coffee. It's quite enjoyable being in Manayunk. :)
Blessings and shalom,