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Just after I turned 43 and was still single, I experienced something surprising: extreme loneliness. Sure, I had fleeting moments or short periods when I felt lonely because I lived far from family. And, there were times when loneliness was a companion on the weekends. But this was different. This loneliness was very emotionally painful and it seemed to hang on me like a cloak of darkness. It didn’t just cause me to feel sad; it caused anxiety.
You see, I had been traveling quite a bit for ministry and I usually enjoyed hopping on an airplane for an adventure to meet new people. But during this season of intense loneliness, airports caused me to panic. There was something about being in a sea of people that made me afraid. I didn’t know what was wrong, so I asked God for an answer. He faithfully answered.
One afternoon when I returned from a trip, I began flipping through a handful of my old journals from previous months. As I read, I found a common phrase that revealed a lie I had been believing: “I am an orphan.” Over and over I read this same phrase that I had been scribbling in my journals for months without realizing it had become a stronghold in my thinking. The bigness of an airport just seemed to exacerbate this deception and make me feel worse.
I recalled one evening when I was ill. I lay on the bathroom floor of my apartment and prayed. “Lord, there is something really wrong about a middle-age woman living so far from her family and not having anyone special to love. I am an orphan.” I had been believing the lie that I was all alone and as a result I had been feeling it in my emotions.
When I saw this in my journals, I immediately recognized it as a deception and I also remembered the truth that I am never alone. Jesus is always, always with His children no matter where they go. So I made a plan. I had another trip coming up and I decided to choose to believe God’s truth as I entered the airport. I imagined Jesus walking alongside me. I spoke with Him while I took a little ride up a very long escalator. I quietly sang Him a praise song. I thanked Him that He is with me and that He never, ever leaves. As a result, something wonderful happened. . . my anxiety disappeared! And, I haven’t experienced this same problem since.
Let me insert here that there was nothing magical about what happened. And, I because I don’t like pat Christian band aids people sometimes try to put on big problems, please don’t think I am dismissing anyone’s pain or saying that if you just say a little prayer you will immediately feel better. What I am saying is this: What we believe affects our feelings. This wasn’t about positive thinking; it was about agreeing with God. This is why one person can read and believe a scripture such as, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13) and they receive courage from it, and someone else can read it, not believe it, and still struggle with fear. It comes down to believing God. Believing God’s Word transforms our minds (Romans 12:2)—and through it our emotions can be transformed, too.
I once listened to a great sermon illustrating this principle during which the preacher asked the audience to listen to several phrases such as:
Kissing a baby
Big Mac with cheese
Listening to the symphony
Stuck in traffic
Waiting for the bus
Hugging a friend
Singing praise songs
Reading about the election
After sharing the list, he asked the audience how they felt as they heard each item. Well, of course it depended on their memories and the information they were given. His point was this: What you think affects how you feel.
We are wise to remember this as we consider John 14:1. In this passage, Jesus gives a prescription for troubled hearts when He says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.” What’s Christ’s answer for troubled hearts? Belief.
Are you believing a lie about yourself or your circumstances? Do you need to agree with what God says and align your thinking with His truth so He can relieve you of chronic anxiety, worry, loneliness or fear? If you know you have been believing a lie and you aren’t sure what it is, ask the Lord to reveal it to you. Then ask Him to reveal His truth to you in His Word. Then agree with Him.
I hope this has encouraged you today.
Thanks in advance for sharing this message with your friends! I am thankful for you.