An excerpt from my personal journal entry in April 2015:
“This has just been a tough week. I have just felt really empty, lonely, and lost… It may be hard right now, but I’m thankful for broken weeks like this because it creates a void that I have to come to God to fill.”
Lonely. I felt the weight heavily. I was sixteen and searching. Most of my friends had boyfriends; I couldn’t even look a guy in the eye without blushing. I was unsure of who I was and how God fit into my life. My words in my journal were simple, but very real. Haven’t we all experienced that sinking, empty feeling of being alone?
Looking back, I see that God was using that moment to teach me what it really meant to rely on Him. It may seem like I was confident and joyful in God’s purpose for that loneliness, but I was just reminding myself of God’s promises, learning what it meant to trust when I don’t understand. Through that season when I was sixteen, God filled that void. Sometimes God has to empty us in order to fill us.
That April, I felt like I was missing out. In retrospect, God was just preparing me. Though we don’t talk about it very much, I know a lot of girls whose hearts are hurting with the same loneliness. We are all acutely aware of the missing part of our heart, our desperate need for fulfillment. But God works in the hurting places.
Though it may seem like a quick fix, I promise you, a man will never fill that void. God created those missing pieces so that you might find Him. Patching up the hurt by gaining the acceptance you think that you will receive through a man may numb the pain for a little while, but it will only lead to more confusion in the end. It’s unfair and always disappointing to put your faith in a man to accomplish what only God can do.
I took my loneliness and I asked God for strength. I prayed a lot. I served at church. I tried to seek out friendships with girls at youth that I had never taken the time to know. Away from the security of the acceptance I had always known, I was able to meet other people and experience conversations that would propel me into the future God was preparing for me. I worshipped and wrote. I learned what it meant to be content in God. I came to know God in a deeper way than ever before. It was still hard, I still messed up and had bad days. Even though I couldn’t see it then, God took every doubt, every ugly feeling, and He used it for His bigger plan.
It may feel like you’re just waiting right now. You may be waiting for the right time, for your life to fall into place, or for him to finally notice you. But I offer you two freeing words— stop waiting. God is using this time in your life to prepare you. He is giving you unique opportunities. You’re not the only one, there are people around you who need a friend too. God is waiting for you to come to Him. Stop waiting, start seeking God. Be patient in His perfect timing.
I have learned that God uses all the situations that don’t make sense now to prepare you for the plans He has for you later. When God does lead you into a relationship, the loneliness and questions don’t disappear. In fact, you face another person’s brokenness too. Tempers will flare, some days you will still feel lonely, and you will enter a whole new realm of temptations. You don’t have to be perfect, but it takes a firm foundation and a reliance on Christ to navigate through a relationship. Patterns of impatience, insecurity, and discontent will walk right into a relationship with you. Conversely, allowing to God to teach you patience, confidence, and fulfillment in Jesus will prove to point you back to Him when you do start dating.
The best part is, God always gives us grace. I’m not perfect, I still find myself searching for meaning in the wrong places. But the emptiness always brings me back to God. His promises always remain. His mercies truly are new every morning. It’s never too late, you’ve never strayed too far. Just as Hosea pursued Gomer even as she ran from her faithful husband and prostituted herself to cheap love, God pursues us still.
That lonely April, I was unaware of the way God was preparing me for the year ahead. A month later, my now-boyfriend, Philip, and I started becoming close friends. By the end of 2015, we started dating. If I wouldn’t have been through that season of loneliness that April, I know I wouldn’t have been ready to enter a relationship nine months later. I was able to wait on God, trust in His timing, and find fulfillment in Christ together with Philip as we began dating. We both realize that we desperately needed the lessons God taught us leading up to dating to keep our relationship focused on Him now. For sure, we aren’t perfect and we both have a lot left to learn, but I’m thankful for the way God works in our lives. I’ve learned what it means to trust in God’s plan, even when it hurts.
I pray the same words for you, dear girl, that Paul prayed for the Romans. I challenge you, take your searching to Him. I promise you, He will fill your broken heart if you just let Him.
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13