Step Away From the Pew...and Drop the Mask
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV)
I am lonely.
That is what I am hearing, over and over again. Loners, leaders and ‘popular’ ladies all say it. Dozens of women have shared stories with me over the last few weeks; some break my heart and others inspire me. Many have said that during their loneliness, ‘God was their all in all’. I so get that. He has filled the gap for me many times.
God said in Genesis that it was not good for man to be alone; it goes for us women too. We were designed for relationships. First of all, an intimate relationship with God, but then beyond that, to have deep meaningful friendships as well. A word search of ‘lonely’ in the King James, New King James, ESV and NIV brought up less than a half a dozen results. But before I even looked, when I was reflecting this morning I recalled the loneliest year of my life and how Psalm 102:7 resonated with me: ‘I lie awake; I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop”.
I remembered reading that verse and literally falling on my face before the Lord. It summed up my pain in such a vivid picture. I wrote it down in my journal and spoke it out loud to Him countless times during the year of my divorce when many of my friends deserted me. Loneliness enveloped me and, in fact, in time I learned to embrace it; so much safer to be alone than to be hurt again. Upon emerging from that painful year, I had changed the way I related to women and how close I would allow them to get. It became my new normal.
Last night there was a women’s fellowship time at our church. I told my husband that I didn’t want to go and fake being happy. He suggested that I instead walk in with a sign around my neck that read, ‘Disappointed and Disillusioned’—a friend had recently broken my heart and it was still in recovery. I didn’t have any desire to be around other women at all but at his urging, I went...sans sign.
God, in His infinite love, brought another woman to my side who confessed that she too would have liked to have hung a sign around her neck and we bonded as we shared our brokenness in face to face honesty. It was rare and sweet.
Which, in turn, brought me to write this post; to this reflection. Why are those moments so few and far between?
Even when we go to church, according to the dozens of you who say so yourselves, why do we put on masks and only reveal what we think those around us are willing to accept? Why do we crave acceptance of a false representation of ourselves more than authentic relationships? Is it because we’ve become a generation of people who place so much emphasis on numbers of friends that we have sacrificed quality for quantity? Or, is it because we are all so wounded we would rather hide behind false relationships than risk being hurt or rejected again?
The Word clearly states our need for authentic relationships. We need to step away from the pews and drop our masks. It starts with the church lady in the mirror. Pray and ask the Lord to reveal to you who around you can be trusted; and then take off your mask and begin to find true fellowship. It’s out there.
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