As we learn to live from love and not fear, we can also use the tool of Immanuel prayer to find our best self with Jesus. For me, finding my best self with Jesus means leaning into His joy for me when I feel loneliness overwhelming me. Now, a person can be alone and not feel significant emotional stress. Being alone at times is important for emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being. However, there are many ways being alone can turn into the emotional distress of loneliness.
Personally, this happens for me in two ways: When I experience several overwhelming moments and emotions with no one to attune to me or when I spend an excessive amount of time alone and allow a lie to invade my mind.
First, it’s challenging to go long stretches of time without anyone hearing about my life, thoughts, or feelings. My background involved significant community influence, and I have been intentional about cultivating meaningful, balanced relationships in a variety of settings. Since I naturally enjoy and seek out meaningful connection with others, it feels painful when that is lacking. We are designed for community and to share life in immediate and extended family units, so looking for connection and attunement is a natural part of life.
For the latter, the lie is, “When I am alone, no one loves me, therefore I am unlovable”. This first part is true. When you are alone for an excessive amount of time, you are not experiencing hesed from others. Attunement, consideration for your needs, affirmation, positive physical contact, or a meaningful and at times sacrificial connection from others is lacking. The last component is significant because being with others in a community or a committed relationship involves a healthy cycle of giving and receiving meaningful sacrificial care, which we call love.
So, how can I separate reality from the lie that I am unlovable or not good enough to be loved?
There are many strategies, both natural and spiritual, a person could use to approach this problem. I have been on a long journey to unbelieve this lie. The first step is reaching out for help. Reaching out for help is huge. If you have not taken that step, I want to encourage you to reach out for help. Free help from caring friends, help from your church or pastor, paid help, in person help, or online help. Own your loneliness, commit to finding the lie, and reach out for help to unbelieve it.
I reached out to many places: family, friends, trusted mentors, and an Immanuel prayer facilitator. One cold fall day I was sitting in my room with an Immanuel facilitator on a laptop zoom screen trying not to cry before we even started. This sweet older lady walked me through quieting my body and prayed the opening prayer. I could feel the tension release from my neck, shoulders, stomach, legs, and ankles. The peace and presence of Jesus flooded into my senses and mind.
Further into the encounter, we asked Jesus where He wanted to take me. I then saw myself standing on a beach in California where I previously lived. I was standing alone on the beach contemplating my life. This had been a regular habit for the last 15 years before moving to the Midwest recently. I could feel the sand in my toes, the warm air, and the sense of loneliness and frustration in my chest. The Immanuel facilitator then said, “Ask Jesus to show you where He is on the beach”. As I took a deep breath and asked that question, I suddenly saw a ton of Jesuses on the beach partying with me! They were all wearing white jeans and white t-shirts. Three of them were playing spike ball. Four or five were grilling burgers. Several sat on the ground around a portable speaker. Some were throwing a football back and forth. It was amazing! When I turned to look at them, they all made eye contact with me and shouted, “We are so glad you’re here!”. It was so incredible! It was like being received at a party full of friends. The joy on their faces was so evident. I felt so much relief and excitement go through my body. Not just one Jesus was glad to see me, but 50 Jesuses!
This Immanuel encounter was so special to me. There were many encounters with Jesus and others to help me unbelieve the lie that I am unlovable, but this was certainly a vivid and exceedingly joyous one. In the weeks following that encounter whenever my alone time turned into loneliness I would think of this moment when 50 Jesuses partied on the beach with me!
This is part of the amazing Gospel. God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit want to be with us in our life struggles and difficult emotions. We can experience relief and truth about ourselves when we connect with Immanuel. Part of finding your best self is knowing and believing the truth about yourself. Who better to show you that truth and create a renewed reality than Jesus who made you and loves you the most!
As you continue into 2024, how does your best-self look to Immanuel to overcome your loneliness?