Finding God and Ourselves in Times of Loneliness (2/3)

So, what is this everlasting, timeless love that we seek for? Why is there an insatiable burning desire and restlessness that pushes us to pursue some unknown desire to be whole and to be loved? Why can we feel its presence deep from within but cannot explain what it is?

Within each of us, there is a still small voice and sense of being touched, loved, and valued in a way that is beyond anything we have ever psychologically or emotionally, humanly or consciously, experienced. Everything that we hold dear in this world fall short of description because it is something deeper and more intimate than what we can define with human goodness, love, value, intimacy, or tenderness. This is the place where our heart of heart feels loved, a place so sacred and precious that no one can really understand or sufficiently described in words. From this love, kisses and embraces are simply given as extensions, as well as tears and sorrows, as they are still but signs and responses to what we already hold dear from within.

Perhaps Saint Augustine gives us a hint when he puts this creative power into words: “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.” The Lord has made everything beautiful in its own time, but He puts in each and every one of us His everlasting love so we can seek Him beyond the things of this world and understand our lives, from beginning to end, in light of His eternal and providential love. This place where we encounter God and His love for us is often called the “meeting ground” in spiritual, mystical language. It is very intimate but very universal, no one else understands it but us; however, everyone has the yearning and recognition of it. It is a place of true intimacy without pretension, a place of transparency and vulnerability, a place of honesty and humility, a place of innocence as we come with childlike faith and love to the One who created and loved us into being. In this place, we are holy, as temples of the Lord, as we recognize, understand, and willingly embrace our true identity in His image and likeness. The things of this world “touch our heart” when we can relate and understand since they already been touched, taught, and given to us by the Creator from the beginning of time. Things that are true resonate with us because these eternal truths are already given to us and are everlasting with the love of God. We measure everything in life by how it touches this sacred reality. When we are in touch with this eternal love, we become more compassionate, merciful, loving, caring, and sensitive to other people’s needs because we experience through them the real nourishment of our souls.

However, it is often hard to be honest, genuine, vulnerable, and transparent with ourselves. Why? We tend to live with certain fantasies and illusions of who we are and where we fit into the scheme of things. We dream about what we want to be, and after a while, they become mixed into how we see and interpret reality. We get hurt, frustrated, and resentful when those things do not turn out as we expect them to be. Even though the meeting ground where we meet God and receive His love, it is also the place where we most feel alone. We have to let go of many of our insecurities and pretensions in order to see, accept, and embrace who we truly are in the eyes of God. We have to stand naked and as we are before God, and that scares the heck out of us! Nevertheless, this is caused by our failure to completely be honest, vulnerable, transparent, and in touch with the truth and reality. The failure to live with and in the truth often becomes the cause of our own negative feelings of loneliness because we would rather choose to live in a fantasized version of what we would like to be. As our society becomes more consumeristic and secularized, all of our supportive roots and systems are being cut, perverted, and brought into question. Yet, all these cutting-edge rebuttals and denials of traditions and supportive values make us more lost and without any anchors to hold on against the storms of life.

That is why we need one another. When we are able to be genuine, honest, and transparent with each other, the sharing of our pains and sufferings, fears and worries, help to make us freer, and at the same times, supportive of those who are walking with us. When we listen to each other and help each other discern the truth, we recognize that others’ pains and worries are similar to ours as well. This communion of trust sheds light into the depth and complexities of our own mysterious hearts that we might not be able to understand ourselves. These true stories from the heart are also the story of our hearts. When we listen to one another with respect, we reveal something sacred, intimate, and personal, and this helps us see the divine love that God has put into each and every one of our souls. Our heartfelt stories reveal to us the presence of the loving heart of God and His understanding of our hearts and its pains and sufferings, as well as its loving hope and desire for a deeper faith. Those who come together recognize the among them the common struggles to seek the face of God, to break through the uncertain clouds of loneliness, the manipulative and controlling lies of this world, and to come to the full meaning of life found in the One who loves us.

We recognize that when we turn ourselves from God, it often leads us to much internal disharmony, hence a distorted view of reality, which causes distrust, jealousy, and violence as we become more self-centered, losing focus on what is important and life-giving. When we lose trust in one another, we could no longer be comfortable and genuine to each other, hence necessary to protect ourselves, which leads to the melange of sins and failures like selfishness and pride, exploitation and manipulation, jealousy and greediness, dishonesty and lack of openness, prejudice and unfair judgments, lacks of respect and humility. We do these things, not because we necessarily want to be off-putting and blatantly arrogant, but because we are too unsure of ourselves that we just want to attract attention and impress others. When we refuse to be vulnerable before others, we end up building an ego-centered edifice to impress them. Yet, vulnerability is that space within which human beings can truly meet each other and speak the same language from the heart as we are — without any pretension.

We do not want to be alone but we are often too scared and refuse to be who we are, purely and simply, that is why we become each our own constructed tower of “me, myself, and I” and then wondering why nobody seems to understand or care about what we have done. Yet, this tower is just a facade to hide how lonely, self-conscious, unsure of ourselves we really are! We alienate ourselves from each other because there is no longer any common respect and sacred space among us, for each person is too worried about his or herself. Nevertheless, the antidote to isolation and loneliness lies in the path to intimacy and togetherness, in vulnerability and genuineness of spirit. Ultimately, nothing that we can build by ourselves and for ourselves will endure forever. Everything is simply vapor, a quick breath that comes into existence but is unsubstantial and temporary.

If we spend our whole life trying to chase unfulfilled desires, no amount of achievement can ever satiate us. The emptiness is meant for the infinite love of God who has created us for Himself! There is always a space within our heart of heart that is empty and is much greater than we can ever imagine or be fulfilled in this lifetime. It is futile to quench a thirst in us that will not quench and to satiate a hunger that will not be fulfilled by any earthly or human means. Within each and every one of our hearts is a burning desire to meet God who is our Creator. No created object or person in this world, be they ever so wonderful, can ever completely fill this emptiness inside us for the everlasting Lover.

Therefore, the solutions to the pains of loneliness and isolation are founded on prayer as we ground ourselves in the love of God and our commitment to establish and nurture genuine and authentic relationships with those who are walking in faith. It begins with the radical trust in God and His divine providence, believing that He would bring all things to fulfillment by giving Him enough space and time to be God. We have to be willing to let go of our old ways and begin to think anew with, in, and through His love. We have to choose to overcome the innate and self-centered desires of pride, selfishness, greed, jealousy, and sin of all kinds as to live in a genuine covenant with the Lord and those who are called by Him. It is grounded in a realistic acceptance and honesty to live each and every moment of life as it really is, as a beautiful and passing gift.

Without the loving presence of God, nothing is ever completely right in our lives. Nevertheless, when we hear His voice, calling us by name, there is nothing else in this world could ever bring such satisfaction and healing deep from within. We continue to chase after meaningless things until we hear, at the core of our being, the Almighty calling us by name. It is His voice that soothes our daily ups and downs with all their pains and sufferings and heals our ever-present feeling of loneliness. It is this intimacy that many people want desperately and chasing after many wrong things to just feel it for a short while but cannot because of our world and its temporality. We are called to be like the centurion who calls out to Him with faith, which we repeat every time before communion: “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” (cf. Matthew 8:8) Lord, we truly believe and want you…grant us the grace to experience your love given to us according to your will.

— To be continued next week with Part 3