I never felt loved growing up, despite having wonderful parents who loved me fiercely and did the very best they could. That truth has always haunted me as a parent: Not feeling loved as a young teen led me to make a lot of self-destructive decisions. Because of this, I carry so much fear that my kids won’t feel loved. I fear that lie-based feeling will lead them down the same dark roads I traveled.
I was reading a novel called Eve by William Paul Young. The book tells of a fictional account of Adam in the garden of Eden. He writes that Adam believed the lie that he was alone. Adam decided he was alone, despite being face-to-face with God.
When I read that, a brick hit my gut. By the time I had reached my young teens, I, too, decided I was alone. That decision repelled any evidence otherwise and projected the lie I believed onto anywhere it would stick. My aloneness was safety. It was me against the world and I had faith in my strength and ability. I had control over whether I would let myself down.
I made a God of my aloneness and my independence. Untouchable. Invulnerable.
I didn’t know that’s what I was doing, but the enemy’s deception is crafty like that. Looking back, I can see how agreeing with the lie of aloneness led to me feeling unloved. If I was untouchable and unaffectable, I wasn’t just keeping out the bad emotions. The good emotions couldn’t penetrate, either.
This train of thought has come full circle as our oldest is right on the cusp of the teenage years. He is going through all the hard times that come with this season of life and there is an edge to him; anger and frustration bubbles beneath the surface as a war has launched on the inside, vying for his allegiance and agreement.
He has dealt with girls calling him ugly, his first puppy-love heartbreak, “friends” tearing him down, leaving him out and just feeling totally out of place. He doesn’t know where he belongs because he hasn’t yet realized that he must first belong to himself. Sometimes the love I show him bounces right off of him because this shield of aloneness he holds stops it from penetrating.
As an adult, I can see it all spelled out so clearly. However, this path is his to walk. He must decide for himself who and what to believe and I have confidence he is a lot more spiritually savvy than I was at his age.
Well over a decade ago, I had swung from rebellious to religious, looking for something or someone solid to define me. My aloneness had led me down a destructive path and realizing where those paths were headed, I was looking for somewhere safe to belong. Religion fit the bill and I threw myself all in. I longed to please God and “make an impact for Him.” I tirelessly sought after my purpose and my destiny, hungry for something to fill the aching hole inside. At the time I was a very young mom with two kids under two. I was praying about “God’s greater purpose for my life,” I heard Him speak a simple truth that changed my trajectory and put the brakes on in my fast lane to religious burnout. He said “It’s not about purpose, it’s about identity.” It was impressed upon me that if it was about “purpose” and getting something done, God wouldn’t have put a choice in the garden. God didn’t want robots to do his bidding, He wanted sons and daughters to connect with and do community.
This truth has been unravelling my heart ever since.
Sometimes when it bounces around in my mind, I oddly remember the title of a Dr. Suess children’s book “Are You My Mother?” It’s about a baby bird who hatches from his egg while his mother is out looking for food for him. He embarks on a journey to find his mother. He ends up lonely, scared and desperate before he’s placed back up in the safety of his nest, just in time for his mother to return with a worm.
Have you ever felt lost looking for your source of home? Your source of belonging? As children, we find it in our caretakers. As we grow, we look for it in our peers. Maybe we try and find it in our intimate relationships, spouses, roles in our careers or in parenting, social status, etc. We give pieces of ourselves away in exchange for the belonging we desire. In doing so, we feel evermore alone, the love shown from those around us never “sticking” because the version of us they love is carefully curated to follow their rules.
This is why we must carry belonging in our hearts—the belonging echoing the very image of God, stamped on us at our conception. Our defining factor is that we’re sons and daughters of the God who spoke the cosmos into existence.
Instead of turning away in independence—eager to “make something of ourselves” by society’s warped standards—we must look into the face of God, believing that being alone was never good (see the account of creation in the book of Genesis). Our aloneness can never shield us from life’s inevitable pain—it will only increase it.
Maybe we can’t receive the love poured out on us daily because we’ve shielded ourselves against it. Maybe those shields look like aloneness, self-sufficiency, shame or unworthiness. Maybe those shields cover wounds the enemy has exploited to make his lies really believable.
One of the greatest gifts of being a mom is seeing myself reflected in my children—both the good and bad parts. Their behavior often stirs up curiosity. When I’m brave enough to lean into that curiosity, it leads me to self-awareness and a chance to reparent the child within me. Often, I’m brought back to the conclusion that I couldn’t save myself and I can’t save my children. They have a savior, and it’s not me. On the good days, I can simply be an arrow that points them in His direction and pave the way by surrendering to His pursuit of me.
We can be alone or we can be loved, but we can’t be both. So which are you, Beloved?
7 thoughts on “Alone or Unloved?”
WOW! Once again you’ve made me see things I didn’t see before and help me unravel the mess inside of my head. Thank you for sharing the gift God has given you with the rest of us. Your words help lead us to the the one who loves us and changes us. I love you!
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Thank you for paving the way through your genuine faith and passion for God! I wouldn’t be me without YOU!
Brit that is a wonderful piece. Your gift of writing is amazing! You are one of my most amazing gifts. I love you!
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Thank you, Dad! I love you so much!
Wow. Your writing is inspiring because it comes from a place where God’s Holy Spirit has touched you. I’m so proud of you.
What touched me most is the self-sufficient idol I held onto with the lie that “I must.” Little did I know that my self-sufficient business kept me from resting and feeling like a mouse on the wheel. Only surrendering ALL to Jesus brought peace of mind and true rest. For me, surrendering means time for praise, prayer, and study, which brings peace and an abundance of love from my Creator.
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Thank you so much! ❤️
😭🙌❤️ SO GOOD! I absolutely love how you are able to articulate so clearly your feelings and inner workings. I. Can. Relate…