How to feel less lonely

A prayer from the airport. I’m at a layover between flights here in Phoenix and that gives me ample time to focus on you Father instead of people watching or wandering around, like I usually would do. I did get some walking around the terminals to have some semblence of exercise. Oh, let’s see, 3,500 steps according to my smartphone steps counter.

A Fact of Life Being Alone

Check-in with reality. There are many times in our lives when I am alone. I think that’s true for most people in the world.

Okay. I could imagine there are crowded places in very populous urban cities where it’s hard to get away from people, except when someone lives in an apartment by themselves. And, in those crowded city apartments, there could be another person or several others in that same space. In the same proximity. But that’s not the point.

I think there are many times when people are alone with their thoughts. There’s that saying, live for an audience of one. That’s something I’ve taken the past several months getting more comfortable with. I could be alone when I’m working at my home office. (Yes, I have a coworking job where I work alone most of the time.)

Sorry about that, got distracted here. I was rethinking if I’m getting into journaling mode or if I’m staying in prayer mode. Let me get back to prayer mode.

No Explanation, No Context

I don’t have to explain what I’m thinking to my readers. If they don’t understand what I’m talking about, especially when my words have no context, because I already know the context and they don’t, they’ll have to add a comment to ask for elaboration. When they do, I’m happy to unpack and share more.

I confess that I have for years kept myself active with activities and being out and about. I like the energy and frenzy that it gives me to be at events and conferences. But it had the effect of holding onto those as distractions so I didn’t attend to my inner voice and thoughts. I was constantly looking for the next thing to work on or to go to. In my need for the companion of energy and to avoid the feeling of being alone, I would grasp for music or television or other kinds of acceptable activities. I lost a sense of how to be alone, in a good way, to value the reality of solitide that is a part of life.

The Truth I’m Not Alone; Neither are You

When I’m alone with my own thoughts, I’ve started learning that I’m not really alone in the universe. That’s where faith has led me this year, and I thank you God for that. It isn’t yet instant access for me to feel God is near and God is here.

This is my first step of faith, then. When I am alone, my mind does not have to fall down to the gravitational pull of loneliness. It means resisting the not-very-helpful thoughts of panic or fear or anxiety. It means choosing, even as if grasping, to take a step of faith, to believe that God exists, that God is near.

Then the next logical step of faith is believing that to be true, I can think about what then is next? So God is near, God has created me to love me. God, I’m in need of your nearness. I’m in need of your perspective. My mind is playing tricks on me again. Oh how annoying that is.

I type this out before you as a prayer now, and as a reminder to myself, to repeat and to rehearse, so I can form these new neural patterns in my thinking to form new habits. Yes, I need to rewire my brain to accept this reality as a good thing for me to know and to experience. When I take steps of faith like this, I can better know and experience that I’m not alone.

Being alone with my thoughts is no cake walk. It’s a faith walk. In my training phase right now, it’s all a conscious effort to direct my thoughts to You. To remind and review what Your Word has to say to me about me, and what Your Word has to say about You, about Jesus Christ.

I’d like to think that I will have arrived, or at least, reached a milestone, when I can instinctively and unconsciously direct my mind and heart more quickly to You. That’d be a good thing to go towards in the new year. I ask for your help. I know I don’t have the will power to do it by myself.

A Year of Sensitivity Training

Looking back at this year, it’s been the most intense year of emotions and thoughts all rolled up together and overwhelming me at times. Thank you for getting me to the end of this year.

Having so many emotions to sort thru and the extra effort it took to hang on to faith by faith, I look back at this year as one that heightened my sensitivity to my feelings. And not just my feelings, but how others might feel in hard and challenging situations. I’m more in touch with my vulnerability and frailty. Attending like a handful of memorial services were sobering occasions to realize the human condition that we all share. Getting in touch with these soft and tender and weaker parts in me, I believe helps me to have grown my empathy for others that have their own challenges in life.

And the holidays this week, being with people from different cultures and background, yes, I’m recognizing that some people haven’t change for their own good, and how they’re doing their same old habits to distract, well, me too. I have habits and patterns that I have a hard time changing too.

We all needs God’s help. Admitting we need help is the first step of faith. Inviting someone else to agree and plead before God for my need for help, that may well be another step that can get me on my way to experiencing more of God’s help and seeing life change. Just thinking about that as I’m typing this out in prayer. I think there’s something there.

I think that’s a good thing. When my mind and heart gets into that tunnel-vision situation, hit the reset button, recognize that I am not alone because the God of the universe is here with me, with the world, he’s here and near, he’s listening. That’s the first step. Take what time I need to reset. If sitting still doesn’t recenter me, then take a walk. Oh, definitely take several slow deep breaths. Gotta remember that.

Then, take that next step: call a friend. Reach out in some way. Get the good thoughts flowing and going. Thank you for showing me a couple of good things to do for my own good and for the good of others.

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