The Antidote to Loneliness

Alone in a Crowd

Loneliness can be found at every level of society.

The rich can be lonely as well as the poor.
The busy as well as the idle.
The young as well as the old.
The crowded as well as the isolated.
The leaders as well as the followers.
The wedded as well as the single.

Loneliness has less to do with the quantity of people in your life and much more to do with the quality of people.

Loneliness has a lot to do with our soul.

First, our western culture keeps us so busy and focusing on the surface of things that we don’t value the investment and time that it takes to cultivate deep friendships.

Quality friendships demand time and re-prioritizing.
Quality friendships do not happen quickly or easily.
Quality friendships move beyond the, “What’s in it for me?” and requires a commitment of selflessness and humility.

Quality friendships are the antidote to loneliness.

William Shakespeare wrote, “A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.”

Helen Keller wrote, “I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.”

Quality friendships motivate your character to mature.

These kinds of friendships make us want to be better people.
These kinds of friendships challenge us to grow our moral fiber.
These kinds of friendships are not always easy, but they are invaluable.

When I’m around my friend Eldon who sponsors 21 Compassion children, I want to be a more generous person.

When I’m around my friends Tom and Janis who work passionately and tirelessly with the homeless, I want to be a more caring, less judgmental person.

When I’m around my friend Mike, who believes in the power of prayer, I want to be a more faith filled person.

When I’m around my friend Kevin, who is one of the most selfless people I know, I want to be a better friend.

When I’m around my friend Ginger, who loves the broken-hearted and the grieving, I want to be a more empathizing person.

The writer of proverbs compares these kinds of friendships to how when iron sharpens iron, there is friction and sparks result, but the long term result wins out over the short term pain.

These kinds of friendships are rare.

Do you have people like that in your life?

If you do, invest in them.
If you do, thank them for what they do.

Quality friendships also respect and treasure your soul.

These kinds of friendships look past the “What can you do for me?” question and attaches great importance on how that friend is doing on the inside.

What fears are paralyzing their soul?
What sins are strangling their soul?
What unmet dreams are saddening their soul?

Quality friendships go to these deeper places.

James wrote in the New Testament to confess your fears, your sins, your feelings to each other and pray for one another and the result will be the healing of your heart.

Do you have people like that in your life?

If you do, value them, invest in them and thank them.

Quality friendships ultimately encourage your journey.

We live in a very negative, tear one another down world.

The hostile environment of the work place, the cyber bullying of the internet, the ridiculing comments and judgment of the school yard can drive us to deep discouragement and low self-esteem.

As people of faith, we are supposed to be the contradiction to our mean spirited culture.

The writer of Hebrews tells us that we are to spend our days “thinking of ways to encourage one another toward creative outbursts of love and good deeds.”

Child expert Kevin Heath wrote, “Four very powerful words to say to your child: I BELIEVE IN YOU!” yet I would argue that those are the words that are used often in all deep, quality, life-giving friendships.

During one of our summer camps on our campus, we had over 450 grade school students, who needed to know that someone believed in them. I thought I would try something.

After lunch, the students would line up, single file to go outside to the water games or to the gym for sports, so on the first day I stood at the front of the line and as the kids begin to file out, I tried to tell as many of them as I could how special they were.

As they walked by I would point at each one and say, “You are amazing, you are spectacular, I love how smart you are, you are awe-inspiring, you are stoopendous, you are truly remarkable, you are superb, you are wonderful, you are magnificent, you are astounding, you are grand, you are splendid, you are outstanding, your are perfecto, you are impressive and you are groovy!”

You get the idea. On the first day, the kids were looking at me and thinking, “Who is this man? Stranger danger.”

But by the third day, the kids were lining up with anticipation of what they were going to hear and they would yell out to me, “Pick me! Pick me!”

As humans, we were created for encouragement and our culture has abandoned this practice and our souls are dying of starvation.

Do you have people in your life who encourage your journey?
Do you encourage other people’s journey?

Let’s try practicing what the writer of Hebrews taught us. I have never met anyone who has said, “Please, stop encouraging me, I’ve had enough!”

People will rise to the level of expectation that we give them.

Jesus was the master of this. He came to a loudmouthed fisherman named Simon, and he told him that he was going to rename him Peter (Petros-rock) and that he was going to be the foundation of the church and the gates of hell would not prevail. And over time, Simon began living like Peter, and he was never the same.

Speak encouragement into the people around you and watch them rise up to the words that you have given them.

God created us to be in deep, meaningful relationships.
Don’t neglect one of life’s most essential needs.

Find people who will motivate your character and do the same for others.
Find people who will respect and treasure your soul and do the same for others.
Find people who will encourage your journey and do the same for other.

You will see loneliness slip away and purpose and meaning follow.

“The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.” Mother Teresa

There Are Voices In My Head

There is a Turkish proverb that says, “If speaking is silver, then listening is gold.”

WHO YOU LISTEN TO WILL DETERMINE THE DESTINY OF YOUR LIFE.

Everyday there are voices screaming in our heads and the question is, “Which ones will we listen to?”

One person said it like this, “I have voices in my head, but they’re all speaking Spanish, and I have NO idea what they’re saying.”

WHO YOU LISTEN TO WILL DETERMINE THE DESTINY OF YOUR LIFE.

The psalmist wrote, “I will listen to you, Lord God, because you promise peace.”
Proverbs states that, “A smart person will listen to God and increase wisdom.”
It goes on to say that, “Whoever listens to God’s voice has security and has no reason to be afraid.”
It continues, “Listen to me and you will find happiness.”
Jeremiah wrote, “Call to God and listen to him and he will tell you things you don’t know anything about.”

It seems like a no-brainer to listen to God’s voice with those promises, but the problem is, there are other voices competing in our heads every day.

The truth is we will hear the voice of what we love and focus on the most.

At home, my T.V. can be on, with no one really paying attention until George Clooney’s voice comes on and my wife stops dead in her tracks and runs toward the screen.
There can be a lot of noise in the house, but if hunky George comes on the T.V. she will somehow hear his voice and stop everything else she is doing.

Why does my wife hear Georges voice above every one else?

Because we hear the voice of who and what we love and focus on the most.

I hate George Clooney.

What voices do you listen to?
What voices do you trust?
What voices are the loudest to you?

One of the loudest voices in our head is the VOICE OF OUR CULTURE.

The voices of our culture tell us to worry, hoard, don’t forgive and climb over people to get to the top

They tell us who is important, beautiful and successful.

Our culture shouts out very clearly who is valuable.

These voices lead to the death of dreams, joy, hope, relationships and many times the death of our spirit.

Proverbs tells us that “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”

Another voice that competes in our head is the VOICE FROM OUR PAST.

Phrases like, “You have blown it”, “You have burned too many bridges”, “You had your chance”, “Why would it be any different now”, and “You will always be this way”, scream at us all day long.

Another voice that is debilitating is the VOICE OF OTHERS.

It is amazing how hard it is to forget words like, “You are fat.” “You are stupid.” “You are ugly.” “I wish I would of never had you. “Why can’t you be more like your sister?”

Besides the voices of our culture, past and others fighting for supremacy in our head, there is another voice at work full time and it is the VOICE OF THE ACCUSER.

Jesus said, “…he is a liar and the father of lies.”

The accuser will use whatever voice he can to lie to you.

He will use the voices of the culture to lower your self-esteem and cause discontentment.
He will use the voices of your past to make you lose hope for the future.
He will use the voice of others to keep you from dreaming big.
And he will use his voice to condemn, judge and tell you are unforgivable and it is too late.

I was just recently talking to a 19 year old young lady, who had been abandoned by her father, was involved in substance abuse and had compromised her values through many broken relationships.
She was listening to the voices in her head that were telling her that she was worthless, ugly and that God was done with her.
She felt it was too late and she had made too many mistakes.
She felt scared, alone and very fragile.
She was hurting so bad.

I talked to her about changing the voices she listened to in her head.

I told her to begin to listen to God’s VOICE OF VALUE that says “You are not an accident and you are wonderfully and fearfully made.”

I told her to begin to listen to God’s VOICE OF SATISFACTION that says, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.”

I told her to begin to listen to God’s VOICE OF WISDOM that says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, you will hear a voice saying, “This is the road! Now follow it.”

I told her to begin to listen to God’s VOICE OF HEALING that says, “I have come to heal the brokenhearted and set captives free.”

And then I told her to begin to listen to God’s VOICE OF INVITATION that says, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.”

I asked her, “Will you hear God’s voice?”
And then I said, “What is really amazing is that God will hear your voice…”
I read her Psalm 116:1, “I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.”

She decided that day to begin to change the voices she listened to.
Today, God is changing, healing and bringing joy and purpose to this beautiful young ladies life.

WHO YOU LISTEN TO WILL DETERMINE THE DESTINY OF YOUR LIFE.

Will you take a few moments and listen to God’s voice speak to you through scripture:

For those who are tired, God says,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

For those who have been abandoned, God says,
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)

For those living with shame, God says,
“…as far as the east is from the west, so far have I removed your transgressions from you.” Psalm 103:12 (NIV)

For those searching for significance, God says,
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

For those seeking salvation, God says,
“I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.” John 11:25 (NLT)

For those needing wisdom for the future, God says,
“Call to me, and I will answer you; I will tell you wonderful and marvelous things that you know nothing about.” Jeremiah 33:3 (GNT)

For those figuring out what success is, God says,
“If you try to save your life, you will lose it. But if you give it up for me, you will surely find it.” Matthew 10:39 (CEV)

For those tempted to take short-cuts in life, God says,
“People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall.” Proverbs 10:9 (NLT)

For those needing financial wisdom, God says,
“Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything.” Proverbs 11:24 (NLT)

For those who are buying into the cultural phrase that if it feels good do it, God says,
“Save yourself for your wife and don’t have sex with other women.” Proverbs 5:17 (CEV)

For men looking for ways to be a better husband, God says,
“Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it.” Ephesians 5:25 (GNT)

For those sorting out their priorities in life, God says,
“Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well.” Matthew 6:33 (NCV)

For those who are looking for good investments, God says,
“Caring for the poor is lending to the Lord, and you will be well repaid.” Proverbs 19:17 (CEV)

For those who are looking to be blessed, God says,
“Be generous and share your food with the poor. You will be blessed for it.” Proverbs 22:9 (GNT)

For those who are feeling weak, God says
“My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NCV)

For those who are wanting to be productive, God says,
“If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 (NIV)

For those who are discouraged, God says,
“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NLT)

For those who need refreshing, God says,
“The Lord’s love never ends; his mercies never stop. They are new every morning;”
Lamentations 3:22-23 (NCV)

For those who want to be great, God says,
“If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all the others.” Matthew 20:26 (CEV)

For those who love to worship, God says,
“I’ll tell you what it really means to worship the
Lord. Remove the chains of injustice. Free those who are abused! Share your food with everyone who is hungry;
share your home with the poor and homeless. Give clothes to those in need; don’t turn away your relatives.” Isaiah 58:6-7 (CEV)

For those who want to meet Jesus, God says,
“Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me.” Matthew 25:40 (CEV)

For those who need God to narrow it down to what is most important, God says,
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and most important command. And the second command is like the first: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ All the law and the writings of the prophets depend on these two commands.” Matthew 22:37-40 (NCV)

And to all of those who have lost someone close to them and need the hope of heaven, God says,
“Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:3-4 (NLT)

WHO YOU LISTEN TO WILL DETERMINE THE DESTINY OF YOUR LIFE.