“The thief approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, slaughter, and destroy; I came to give life with joy and abundance.” (John 10:10 VOICE)
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. We’re surrounded by celebrity suicides, and those that shock our local communities. A common thread weaving through these tragic losses is silence. So many of us suffer quietly. John 10:10 empowers us to swap loss for restoration. Every life has an immeasurable value to the Father who crafted each with specific purpose, in His own image.
The statistics are scary, but that means there’s probably another soul within arm’s reach that truly feels our pain. The story of Queen Esther often comes to my mind, as I take stock of my placement in another’s life, as well. Perhaps, “for such a time as this,” (Esther 4:14) that cup of coffee brings enough camaraderie to soothe a soul. God is not a God of coincidence. He’s purposeful and loves us perfectly.
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How to Find Your People
1. Look Out.
Scripture assures us that the best way to heal a hurting heart is to point it outward in service. Helping others helps us. Giving of ourselves and of our resources helps improve our own quality of life. That’s how we were designed, to give.
“Don’t hold back—give freely, and you’ll have plenty poured back into your lap—a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, brimming over. You’ll receive in the same measure you give.” (Luke 6:38 VOICE)
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Limit commitments. What we’ve been through in this life often gives us a platform to turn around and help others: struggles with finances, marriage, friendship, hunger, homelessness, adoption, abuse, divorce, depression. What wisdom do you have that could use to help someone else?
We are not all called to champion a cause. But we are all called to give some of what we have. Look around your home, your life and your neighborhood. There is something everyone can do, and it helps us heal.
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2. Get wise.
“I would have never made it through this season of my life without this group. ”Finding a way to connect what we’re going through to God’s Word, and a supportive group of Biblically sound teachers, leaders, and friends, can help combat isolation. Search for a study online or locally that speaks to the weightiness of your soul. Show up and see what God has in store.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13 NIV)
God is able to minister to our situation without our audible cooperation. He is the ultimate Healer. We were not meant to journey through this life alone.
3. Link arms.
On any given Sunday, many are just trying to make it through the service without bursting into tears. Everyone carries a struggle. We all have a plethora of sorrowful and triumphant seasons in our lives, some happening simultaneously. Standing shoulder to shoulder with others in our community can bring down the walls of isolation.
“Let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another.” (Hebrews 10:25 NLT)
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Walk through physical doors.
We live in an era that allows us to watch, volunteer, and even become members of church online. Though social media gets a well-deserved bad rap, God is using it to save lives. Chat rooms explode with prayer requests during church services.
Keep scrolling until it clicks and don’t stop there. I believe God wants us to continue walking through physical doors to meet with each other and link arms.
4. Friendship Inventory
“Growing older but not up…”The lyrics of this Jimmy Buffett song stick to my soul when I look around at the people that are here for me now, as I approach the end of my third decade.
“A true friend loves regardless of the situation, and a real brother exists to share the tough times.” (Proverbs 17:17 VOICE)
Many times, as we veer the corner of middle-age, we doubt that we have the ability to form healthy friendships because of the way the landscape has changed over the years. Whether we carry friends throughout our lives, or let the landscape change as we grow, it’s OK. Reach out to them.
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Keep it real.
No one is going to know 100% of you. That’s God’s territory. Lean into the people He provides in this season of your life, “to share the tough times,” but none more so than Him. Seasons of loneliness can feel like a battle. It can feel like war. It can make no sense. We’re not promised this world will be easy to navigate, and we know that no one is perfect. Avoid putting those weights on your shoulders.
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5. Get help.
There are some holes in life that we cannot dig ourselves out of, no matter how many other things we try and books we read, or even podcasts we listen to. No matter how much time we spend with God in His Word or in prayer, sometimes He leads us to a more qualified hand to heal our minds.
“Fools follow their own directions and think they are right, but wise people listen intently to advice.” (Proverbs 12:15 VOICE)
We get X-rays when our bones are broken and antibiotics for infections. Mental health has carried a stigma over the years, but it’s just as important to check up on our mental health as it is our physical.
Please, if you are feeling isolated, reach out to a counselor that is gifted to help. If you are contemplating suicide, call this number: 1-800-273-8255. Don’t buy into the lie that your life is not valuable and essential. You are someone’s angel on earth. Just because you are hurting and lonely does not mean you are broken beyond repair. You are never alone. Others are suffering alongside you, silently. Jesus will never leave you or love you less. Others are suffering alongside you, silently. Seek help and know that you are loved.
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Filters and Boundaries
If we hold something too close to our face, it blurs. Sometimes, the people that live with us are unable to see and/or understand why we are suffering. Our minds are powerful and the thoughts we entertain have no filter.
“We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NLT)
Hyperbolic thoughts can convince us that our problems and concerns are dysfunctional. The distorted ones are psychologically defined as Cognitive distortions, thoughts that cause individuals to perceive reality inaccurately.
God’s Word provides ample truths to combat these lies. “You are wonderfully made,” (Psalm 139) and “I will never leave you or forsake you,” (Hebrews 13:5) remind us that Christ loves us for who we are, right where we are.
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Without healthy boundaries, we can become overextended, never allowing the time for a select few relationships to become deeper. Even Jesus had a close group of friends among the many He ministered to. When we fail to allocate our time and foster a few close friendships, we can certainly begin to feel isolated. Make a list of all of the people in your life, and pray over which ones you choose to invest more time in.
Megs writes about everyday life within the love of Christ on her blog, https://sunnyand80.org. A stay-at-home mom, freelance writer and blogger, Bible study and children’s worship team leader, she resides in Ohio with her husband of ten years, two daughters, and their Golden-doodle.
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Originally published Thursday, 21 June 2018.