More than any other time in my life, I have been struck by the extraordinary amount of loneliness that has been showing up lately. First there is my father-in-law whose hearing has become so poor he is hesitant to join in conversations. Then there is my cousin whose mother passed away last month who can’t even fathom sharing with others the things she shared with her mother despite people offering to be the one she calls at the end of each day. And her sister who felt all alone while she watched her mother die even when people she’d never expected to support her came to her side. Although my son has spent hours standing in enormous lines waiting to get his food, he hasn’t eaten but a handful of meals with anyone else for his entire first semester at college. Even a good friend remarked her move to this community has been a struggle to connect with other people and she often feels lonely.

And because I’ve had my own share of lonely moments lately, when I am feeling misunderstood or as if I don’t belong, I can say without a doubt that there is not much anyone else can do to take away your loneliness. I have come to the realization that loneliness is sourced from an inner feeling of being disconnected with others. It is a feeling of separation that wounds the heart more than the actual instance of being physically by yourself. For it doesn’t matter how many people are surrounding you – even people who love you, you can still feel lonely.

Loneliness is a state of mind, a perception that can only be changed from within.

All this awareness of loneliness has me pondering if Mother Mary felt lonely after she first found out she was having a child. Or did Mary and Joseph feel lonely on their way to Bethlehem? Or maybe they didn’t feel lonely until after the many rejections they faced while trying to find a place to stay? Could they have felt lonely with all the wise men and shepherds gathering to see their babe in a manger, not knowing who to trust or what to expect or what lies ahead? Was Mary lonely at the death of her son?

Last night I took my boys to see the new Star Wars movie, Rogue One. Many say the Star Wars movies are rooted in Buddhism philosophy. I immediately thought the movies were Christian based when in The Phantom Menace, Anakin Skywalker – a child of amazing powers whom some believe to be the peacemaker of the universe was born to a virgin.

Either way, the message of the Star Wars movies is always good triumphs over evil and within us we have the power to tap into something that is so much bigger than any of us can imagine – God’s love (or the Force as they choose to call it). And each movie puts emphasis on the fact that when we can develop the skills to be connected and follow the guidance of a higher power, nothing is impossible.

Well in Rogue One, there is a blind man who is mocked because he believes in the Force however he is able to maneuver his way through battle fields untouched as he says, “I am one with the Force and the Force is with me.” Those words are so powerful – imagine the word Force being replaced with Love, the Lord, Spirit or God or Universe or Source Energy…

I picture Mother Mary saying something similar to herself in those hard lonely moments or at a minimum she could repeat the words of the angel Gabrielle, “The Lord is with you!” (Luke 1:28)

All loneliness could be defeated by the mere faith that the Lord is with us! We feel lonely when we feel separated but we are never truly separated from God! We may be turned in a direction where we cannot see his light. We may put our hands over our ears so we cannot hear his voice or close our eyes to recognize his blessings but we are NEVER separated from God. God always has his hand in our lives. He never leaves us. He never abandons us. He is always available to guide us. Even if we completely mock him, deny his existence or dishonor his commandments, God is always on our side – rooting for us to return to his love, calling us to him, calling us to the bounty of his blessings, calling us to ways to live on earth as it is in heaven. The power to tap into that source of love is completely dependent upon our willingness and openness to believe in it and receive it.

We cannot be separated from God. Nor can we be separated from each other. We can only have the perception of separation but it is not the truth. There may be those who have died but seek and you shall find moments of their presence about you, reminding you of their love and behind the thin veil they are helping God orchestrate the finest, most grand life you could ever imagine. Everything you need, everything you desire is always there waiting for you to receive it.

I think about how all of God’s creations are so intricately intertwined and connected in ways we can’t even fathom. My breath is the source of breath for the trees and flowers and the plants while their’s is the same for me.

There is not a single thing that either you nor I could possibly do that doesn’t in some way impact another life form on this planet. Your loneliness is my loneliness. Your happiness is mine. If I try and ignore your loneliness, then I am ignoring a part of me that is calling for completeness. We are one. We are one people, made in the likeness and image of God. All matter in this universe at its essence is made up of the same exact substance – energy and that energy is love. We are one body within Christ, we are one with the earth, we are one.

And so in this Christmas season, as everyone is going around preparing with gifts and food and songs and cheer, there will be lonely people that you meet. Perhaps loneliness will creep into your mind and then your heart. Before it does or if it does, remember it is only a perception.

Remember your important role within the body of Christ and imagine what we would be without you – incomplete. Remind those around you the same thing. No one can fulfill the purpose, the gifts and talents God created in you better than you. You belong. You belong to this world and the next. You are important. You matter. God has great plans for you – “plans for your welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NASB) Or as the American Standard version translates it, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith Jehovah, thoughts of peace, and not evil, to give you hope in your latter end.” (Jeremiah 29:11 ASV)

If God thinks such good thoughts of you, shouldn’t you agree? Release the thoughts that lead you to feeling inadequate, unworthy, misunderstood, lonely and repeat the mantra that was meant to give peace to Mary’s heart in her loneliest times, “The Lord is with You!” (Luke 1:28)

And if you believe that God may have only said those words to Mary, consider Joshua 1:9 – “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

This Christmas, be the gift God meant for you to be to the world. Prepare your heart, your mind and your spirit to house the word of God within you. In all that you think, in all that you say, in all that you do, let the light of the Lord shine within you for all to see! Hold nothing back, release your worries, your fears, your doubts and live as though you are an important piece of all that is, of all that can be and of all that will come – it is exactly what Mother Mary and her son Jesus did. I am one with the Lord and the Lord is with me.

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