Loneliness… we all have that need to feel loved, don’t we? Someone we can just cuddle up close to who will tell us how much they love us – how special we are to them…
When I was still in grade school our family moved to another city where I just didn’t fit in at all. The peer pressure was tremendous – it seemed as though 80% of the kids I went to school with were very wealthy.
High school was definitely the worst. I was awkward and oh so shy. I was “Plain Jane,” and our parents certainly couldn’t afford to buy my sister and I the latest and greatest new fads that continually came on the market (nor did they want to!).
How many times I heard my classmates boast of “the new car daddy bought me for my birthday” or “our family trip to Hawaii over Christmas.” They would look at me with my plain clothes and turn their noses at me. I felt so dejected and insecure.
So I started to blend in with the only crowd that would accept me just as I was. We called them the “Heads.” I actually have no idea where that name came from, or exactly what it meant, but I really began to feel comfortable with this group of classmates. Except let’s drop “class” from that word, because hardly anyone in that group attended “class” very often! No, instead we hung out in the parking lot and smoked cigarettes (and whatever else was available). My life was quickly spiraling downhill, but I didn’t see it.
Because you see, I was lonely. I would watch the “cool” boys and girls hang out together at football games, or see them at movie theaters, and I longed to belong! My family life was falling apart at this point because my dad had a nervous/mental breakdown and was no longer around. I had always been so close to my dad, but me and my mom really didn’t get along. Couldn’t someone love me – just for who I was?
Then came the day when a few guys in the “Head” crowd began to give me compliments. I felt like some of them actually liked me! But pressure also started: “You know I really think you’re special, but if you feel the same way about me, you would _______” (you can fill in the blank). And I was naive enough to fall for that on more than one occasion. And if you said “no?” Well you were dumped like a hot potato. Was I really such a loser?
When I met my husband Gary all that changed for me. I had been married for a short time prior to meeting him, but that marriage had ended in divorce. So here I had met this new guy who really made me start to feel important – he thought I was beautiful, witty and just plain fun to be around (and no, he was not blind…).
Yet no matter how many times he’s said he loves me over the years, I have had a really hard time accepting that because I tend to look backwards instead of forwards a lot. I can still remember so many of the hurtful words spoken to me through the years, and how even at home when I was young it seemed as though “I could never do anything right.”
But all those days of insecurity have been changing slowly but surely since another new Man came into my life and started speaking words to me that have sunk deep into my soul. His name? Jesus, of course! And as I’ve continued to study His word and pray, I’ve come to realize that I really am special! He doesn’t care about all the mistakes I’ve made in my life. Instead He opens up His arms wide to me and tells me to come to Him – and then He takes away my weariness and the struggles I’m dealing with, and instead gives me rest (Matt. 11:28).
But it’s definitely still a struggle sometimes. I need to keep on pressing into Jesus and burying myself in His Word. There’s too many old thoughts that still manage to creep their way into my life more often than I’d care to admit. I need to keep bringing my focus back to what Phil. 4:8 (NIV) says:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, what is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.
My friends, please remember that nothing you’ve done can keep you from Jesus. He loves you just as you are, and is waiting for you to come to Him. My school days were not a good time of life for me, and I know that the only way I made it through was by Him looking out for me, even though I had yet to come to know Him.
May God richly bless all of you.