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

Why are we Christians? What can Christ and His message do for us that the other religions could not do? Why do we need Him in our lives?

Jesus Christ came to shows us that we shall not live and die alone. Our future is not in the uncertainty of Hades, Shoal, or Nirvana. He shows us that God hears our prayers and understands our sorrows. Our hunger for righteousness and thirst for the truth will be satisfied Our desire for love will be fulfilled. The love of God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — will liberate us from the lies of this world and our own self-created walls of loneliness. Evil cannot destroy this everlasting love for He is love, and we are created in His image and likeness. We shall not be alone for we are joined together in a fellowship of joy, a fraternity of love, and a genuine communion no one in this world has ever experienced before. The loneliness of this world is destroyed by the life of love in Him who loves us! While loneliness is often the emotional result of what is going on in life, our restlessness can often be a sign of a greater invitation for intimacy and love of the Lord.

It can be frightening at times because this desire of our heart is deep and full of mystery that many of us just want to try — at all costs — to ignore and avoid entering it deeply. Many times, we try to avoid journeying inward because we are too frightened of finding out who we are, afraid because we must be honest and vulnerable, on edge because we must make the journey alone, fearful of the necessary solitude and perseverance needed, and reserved because we are called to enter the unknown. This journey is beyond our ego-centered desire to be in control, and it sometimes involves unveiling the pains from the past that we have chosen to ignore for a very long time. It is painful because we must be able to see ourselves as we truly are, in all its gifts and blessings, hurts and brokenness. It takes courage — great courage — to let go of our comfort zone, natural defensive mechanisms, and the pristine facade that we have built to protect our fragile pride. It requires the laying down of ourselves — a certain death to self — in order to seek life deeper than what we imagine it to be. St. Augustine beautifully reminds us of this cathartic great journey: “To fall in love with God is the greatest of romances; to seek Him the greatest adventure; to find Him, the greatest human achievement.”

Therefore, when we stray away from God, we experience the foretaste of hell and its loneliness that results from pride, selfishness, and sin. Hell (on this earth) is nothing more than the place where we have created for ourselves, cutting ourselves off from others, and retreating inside ourselves with only our pride and its fragile selfishness, putting up the false facade of flamboyant for-shows, and manipulation for companionship. Yet, God desires to save us from our own miserable state of life by calling us to live within His own very life of Trinitarian love and to be at the eternal banquet with those who are sincere and seeking the same everlasting love. We are called to embrace the infinite love of God, to live in communion with Him now through the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity until we return to Him after a lifelong journey of perseverance. We become (genuinely) more of ourselves when we are most in love! Life is most meaningful when we are able to reach through to someone, to see and touch him or her and to know that the other person is just as real as we are. Life is the most beautiful when we can shut down and cut through the veils and barriers, lies and fantasies, shadows and unrealities which separate us from one another as to see and feel the truth as real as we are.

As human beings, made in the image and likeness of God, we are born to participate in the richness of His very life. The only thing that can give us full happiness and completion is our full communion with Him as to live in His love. Loneliness is our innate and subconscious yearning for Him who created us. It is His way of drawing us to the life for which we were made. He leaves within us an insatiable thirst that forces us to seek and yearn for Him. That is why we remain unfulfilled and frustrated when we try to fill ourselves with lesser things. This desire is like an innate blueprint and guiding light, constantly telling us where we should be going to seek real meaning and fulfillment of life.

Just as we are built to be in union with the divine, we are also called to be in communion with one another and with all of reality. Our whole life and faith journey are a series of invitations and opportunities for us to find a personal and proper response to be in a genuine, honest, and transparent relationship with God and others. No amount of pleasure or sensual satisfaction, partying and drinking, fame and fortune, success or creativity, even no amount of genuine human love and affection can ever fully take our loneliness away. All of these things, even though might sound good, but God has made our heart and its thirst bigger than them. Our loneliness is His magnet, pulling us back to His love. It reminds us that this is not our final destination. In a very creative (but frustrating at times) way, our desire for God and its loneliness keep us from being too occupied and settled with lesser goods. Look back to your and my lives, whenever we feel too comfortable with something, there is a small stillness that irks us deep from within, to keep us moving and eager for something greater. It keeps us growing and learning to let go in order to hold on to the divine. Only the total, all-encompassing, intimate, and personal union with Him can put to rest our deeply-rooted loneliness.

Therefore, when we see those who are in pain or struggling in life without a real answer, when we see them trying to fill themselves with everything but still unhappy, we can recognize, understand, and be empathically compassionate with them. It is easy to be behind a tough, popular, successful, or powerful facade to hide our fears and its pains; yet, underneath it all, we remain the ever scared and lonely people we have always been. We are not so not in control after all. All we really want is for others to love and accept us; and any facade we try to put on fools no one, least of all, ourselves. That is why it is important to choose to find and practice love and forgiveness. Sometimes those two qualities are hard and can come with tears. Nonetheless, if we never experienced pains and hurts, it would be all too easy to become selfish. The experiences of rejection, betrayal, and the likes make it difficult to protect ourselves behind our own protected walls. Through our pains and uncomfortableness, we are reminded to overcome and break down many of the barriers of selfishness and pride that hurt one another and prevent us from relating to God and others in a real loving way.

Even though the many things and people who are important in our lives are immeasurable, they also remind us that we cannot over-expect them to be everything for us, to make us happy and to provide for all of our needs, desires, and yearnings. We cannot treat them as things or objects that are owed to us or can be used as we like. Instead of seeing them for who they truly are, gifts in themselves, we often take them for granted, put too many demands on them, expect too much from them, and — at times — abuse or manipulate them to get what we want. This communal interaction and interpersonal dimension are important in our own spiritual journey because it reminds us of the importance of our relationship with God through one another. Only when we are willing to be opened and take the potential risk to let someone love (and even hurt) us, we will always put up a wall and hide behind our insecure facade. The person who is vulnerable is a person who cares enough to let him or herself be weak as to be real in caring and loving. If we are not ready, we can turn against one another through weapons of war, objects of envy, and forces that serve to create jealousy and alienation among ourselves. True intimacy and love can only be achieved when we stop focusing on our own self-centeredness as to be vulnerable and be able to accept and enrich one another’s lives through authentic friendship and compassionate care of others. If we are not honest and genuine with other people, we are not vulnerable enough to be loved.

True love reminds us that it is more than a physical pleasure exchange, sharing a house, being together because of circumstantial situations, or more than being bound together by an attraction. It begins with the willingness to share and bear all things through the genuine gift of ourselves in sorrows and joys, sickness and health, growths and challenges, life and death. The Lord Jesus Christ shows us the immense power of this love. He gave us a real example with His own life, the one that manifests radical love through self-sacrifice — even to crucifixion. Our Savior showed us that true love cannot be had for any lesser price tag except the loving and sacrificial heart of the One who genuinely loves us! There is no other route to truly love except one that gives with the great sense of commitment, surrendering, and dying for something greater than self-created isolation, loneliness, and pity. It is a personal decision to face up and accept it as part of our humanity, especially stop letting us lead us into a life of negativity and self-destruction but knowing that this in-depth desire of the heart is an invitation of greater love.

All these invitations about love are important but to truly love as the Lord does is not easy. There will be a lot of starting over and there are no quick shortcuts to love! However, if we persevere and continue to choose to love, this habitual lifestyle change will give us a greater degree of consolation to put our desire to be loved into a creative and life-giving force to care and love like He does. Love moves us to choose true freedom instead of emotional compulsion, spiritual restfulness instead of psychological restlessness, patience instead of control, genuine altruism rather than greediness, authentic friendship than possessive codependency, compassionate empathy instead of manipulative apathy. As Christians, we choose to love in both words and actions, in prayers and with our daily sacrifices. Our egocentric fantasy is broken by prayer because it grounds us into deeper contact with God, in knowing who He is and being content with His loving will for us. Without a doubt, when we listen to Him in prayer, much of our loneliness and its pains from our illusions which we suffer will dissolve.

When we seek to love and live our lives beyond our own, to the extent of how much we are willing to give ourselves wholeheartedly, we help one another move toward the everlasting, never-changing, life-giving love of God that changes everything. With that in mind, I would like to close with the words of the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard“God creates [the universe] out of nothing. Wonderful you say. Yes, to be sure, but He does what is still more wonderful: He makes saints out of sinners.” Indeed, He does. I am one of them trying to seek and love Him more each day.

Let us pray for one another.

God bless you.