How often have you found yourself in a hard situation, or maybe just scrolling social media, thinking something along the lines of “maybe it’s just me,” or “I guess ______ just isn’t going to happen for me.” I can’t begin to count the number of times this happens to me–sometimes per day! I wish I could say I always notice and stop those destructive thoughts in their tracks, but some days it’s harder than others.
In life, it can be all too easy to slide into the trap of thinking that we’re the only one: the only one whose dreams have been derailed by life’s unexpected twists and turns. The only one fighting cancer, or maybe fighting with our spouse. The only one our age who still isn’t married. The only one who’s lost their dream job, or maybe didn’t get to graduate. Maybe the only one who’s been hurt by a friend’s words, or overwhelmed by their boss’s expectations. As women, especially, it can be all too easy to believe the lie that we are the only one in our situation.
Over the past year or two, God has been speaking to my heart about this and urging me to take notice of our common human experiences. Whenever I find myself sinking into that lie, He has been gently reminding me, “my darling, you are not alone, and you are not the only one.”
Despite the varying details, we all face hardships and unwanted problems. The pandemic this past year has certainly highlighted this fact in some obvious ways. Millions of us have been shaken out of our daily routines enough to remember that we are all vulnerable to life in more ways than we realized. We are probably all much more aware today than we were last year of our lack of control over the world, and of our constant need for God’s care and protection.
I’ve noticed that in the seasons when I feel the most alone, I also struggle to hear and believe God’s words. That pesky feeling of “aloneness” can quickly build a barrier around our hearts, making it much harder to hear the truth we so desperately need. But on the flip side, there is something so powerful that happens when we are seen, heard, and understood by one another. Our hearts begin to “soften”, allowing those beautiful “God truths” to sink deep down into our hearts and minds, changing us from the inside out.
I’m reminded of the Israelites in the book of Exodus as they were leaving Egypt. Not only were they not alone, but they got to experience God’s miraculous care and protection first-hand! He had heard their prayers and seen their tears. He brought them a leader and rescued them from slavery. He led them through unknown deserts, parted seas, got rid of their enemies, gave them food and water, and provided for all of their needs. When they could not save themselves, they experienced His tangible faithfulness to save over and over again. Years later, as they were about to enter their promised land, the Lord told them to do this:
Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 11:18-20, NIV
As I read these instructions, I get a sense of God’s desire to help the Israelites stay grounded in truth by reminding themselves of His faithfulness everywhere they went. He knew it wasn’t going to be enough for them to see or hear Him act just once; He knew His children would need constant reminders of His faithfulness. And not just for themselves, but also for their children, and for their children’s children. He knew they would need to remember His faithfulness together.
If you read through the rest of the Israelites’ story, you may begin to notice that the more desperately aware the Israelites were of their need for God, the more they trusted Him to care for them. Although it might sound overly simplistic, the first step in experiencing God’s faithfulness is to get real about our needs. And yet isn’t that sometimes the hardest part? To admit to our needs, our fears, and our doubts? It can be hard to admit that we don’t have all the answers, or that our plans just aren’t working out the way we’d hoped. And yet when we choose to open up about those places, we get to learn humility as we ask God to show up as only He can.
As we’ve focused on God’s faithfulness this month, I’ve been deeply encouraged by the vulnerability of each woman who has opened up about her hopes, her fears, and her real-life questions and prayers to God. When we can hear and relate to what’s being shared, we remember that we aren’t alone and we get to see God’s faithfulness again and again. We are then able to open our hearts and say “me too!” Hearing each other’s stories creates safe spaces for us to feel less alone and to find true connection with each other through Christ. It’s in these vulnerable spaces that we find the grace to exhale, to be comforted, and to find true community.
Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” It is such a simple yet powerful practice to regularly share, listen, and help carry one another’s burdens, remembering that we are not alone. This verse in Galatians tells us that by doing this we can actually fulfill the law of Christ. In Matthew 11:30, Jesus says His yoke is easy and His burden is light. His laws are not burdensome, they are the keys to our freedom in the life of abundance that God has promised us!
Are there places in your life where you can open conversations to share God’s faithfulness in your own life and invite the same in return? I encourage you to find somewhere new to do that this week, and when you do, I think you’ll be reminded once again that it’s not just you. We’re all in this together.