3 Ways to Overcome Loneliness

Have you ever felt ‘home’ locationally yet far from it relationally…

…secure in the journey, but perhaps insecure in community?

No question, it’s an awkward emotional dichotomy…to feel in love where you’re at yet estranged at the same time.

Perhaps you’ve wondered what do when you feel like you’re not connecting or what to do when you feel God isn’t honoring your obedience with the right relationships.

If that’s you, then heed my words…

…’cause truth is: I’ve been there…

…and in some ways, I’m still there.

And I’m sure for many of you reading this…you can say the same.

With that said, here are three ways to rightfully cope with the contradiction.

1)      Live and breathe God’s wholeness. 

No doubt, God is enough. The question is: do you honestly believe it?

Consider Jeremiah…a prophet whose calling meant to be alone, as evidenced by his directive not to marry, go to weddings or funerals, be in the presence of feasters and merrymakers, etc.

When we study Jeremiah’s narrative, it shouldn’t surprise us to find him often discouraged and depressed. After all, Jeremiah was entirely human…and to be without friends is one of life’s greatest challenges. But though Jeremiah carried certain “love deficits”, this didn’t keep him from finding satisfaction in God, as noted by his tendency to open prayer with “sovereign Lord” and conclude it with a reference to His steadfast love and/or power. Though Jeremiah lived without companionship, God was able to use his singleness and isolation to fulfill His purposes1 through him in ways that couldn’t have happened had he shared dependence.

1352897081As for us, there may be seasons when God temporarily detaches us to cultivate greater dependence on Him, as He did with Jeremiah. But while these seasons may be arduous, we can still find contentment in knowing God always has our best in mind and always sees the beginning from the end.

Hence, it makes perfect sense to receive God’s wholeness since it not only helps us cope with our deficiencies, but provides spiritual nourishment to keep going…all the while, renewing our trust in His providence.

2)      Pray the Word over your location. 

Let’s be honest: It’s easier to pray for people you know than those you don’t, right?

…especially considering we live in a compartmentalized culture where our concept of the world is essentially our concept of ‘our world’.

However, let’s say God repositions you in a foreign place or season. Would the change be enough to diminish your prayer life or would you stay persistent regardless?

While prayer can certainly benefit from sound company, truth is: the tempo of our prayer life should not be dictated by our social life2 or lack thereof.

Why? ‘Cause at the end of the day, it’s God who orchestrates our connectedness!

Thus, if we’re feeling dissatisfied or desolate, we should feel compelled to turn to God without hesitation and seek his direction, considering if anything is in the way, it’s likely a stronghold of man.

So next time you find yourself disappointed by the hardness of your heart and/or surroundings, pray the Word over your location…and choose to make intercession your default as opposed to withdrawal.

Again, it may not be easy, but you can, at least, bank on finding fuel even when you’re running on empty.

3)      Focus on opportunities to serve.

As mentioned before, we all want to belong…and find our place.

However, though the desire itself makes sense, the problem is often how and where it’s prioritized.

For instance, if the desire is overly prioritized, then we risk engaging community as a means to an end, where on the flip side, if the desire is not prioritized enough, we risk relationship being a nonchalant concept, dependent on chance rather than intention.

But if we truly want to bridge relationships organically, why not focus on opportunities to serve and invite God into the process?

Seriously…it’s not like we have anything to lose yielding to the Spirit’s leading.

And if you think you got to have friends before you can find your “place,” consider how God prepared the way in Scripture time and time again (i.e. God frequently prepped the territory before tending the inhabitants; see Deuteronomy 1-16, John 14:3).

In short, when it comes to seeking connection, the best approach is to let God be God by consecrating our relationships (present and future; real and hopeful), staying rooted in prayer, and seeking His desire to plant us in the best place possible…in the best way possible.

Footnotes

1) To fulfill his purpose, it was essential Jeremiah relied entirely on God, considering he may have a) integrated a fear of man into his prophecies or b) fallen away completely had he placed his own needs above God’s wants.

2) Or how we feel our social life is

Photo credits: https://blog.febc.org
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There’s an App for That: 24me

We’ve mentioned before how life in ministry is an “on call” (24/7/365) responsibility…and how adding a job or two into the mix can make you wish you had a third limb or extra time to meet the demand.

If you can relate, thankfully, there’s an app for that…in the form of a handy, dandy AI (i.e. “artificial intelligence”) personal assistant called 24me…available on iPhone and iPad products1.

With a solid four-and-a-half star rating, 24me doesn’t delay in making a good first impression.

For instance, after logging in for the first time, the app immediately allows the user to link his/her calendar and location with other contacts.
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After pressing ‘continue’, the app navigates to a new screen giving the user the option to create new tasks, events or notes.

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While other organizational apps provide similar settings (like “smart alerts”), what distinguishes 24me is the fact it not only syncs your calendar and notes with personal accounts, but it also generates and completes your daily tasks and events for you (in arguably the fewest amount of clicks).

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Take bill payments, for example.

As a bivocational constantly on the go, I admit…I occasionally forget to make a bill payment or two.  Happens, right? But with 24me, you can schedule auto-payments from multiple sources all in one convenient location! No more bouncing around from one app to the next.

Or perhaps you’re like me and have the outdated habit of typing notes in the standard Note app. Obviously, if you go this route, you’d have to manually reference the app to remember what you keyed; however, with 24me, you can create separate tasks lists and customize your alerts/notifications so you’ll never miss a beat. Pretty cool, eh?

In short, 24me is like a smarter version of Siri. Instead of having to tell it to do something, it takes the next step and does it for you. Concerning its overall performance, 24me thrives off its versatile yet practical functionality (i.e. its simple design and user-friendly interface2), set apart by its “auto-autonomy” and consolidating features.

Not to mention…24me features the first calendar to have a 365 day weather outlook. Perhaps a bit far-fetched, but seriously…how cool is that?3

So how can “24me” be practically applied to ministry?

Well, like Slack, 24me can be used to set up  channels (calendars and tasks4) with specific contacts…simplifying collaboration and communication for church staffs, especially ones mixed with full-time and bivocational leaders.

Furthermore, 24me can better facilitate long-term planning through the app’s daily timeline (which includes calendar events, to-do’s, and personal reminders) and the Glance, a feature that  lets other staff members know what’s coming up for each department.

For instance, even though my 24me account may be full of youth events and dates, if my account is linked with the children’s pastor, I can know just how many calendar events and tasks she has left for a given day.

Granted, this may be too personal for some, but when it comes to ‘being on the same page’, no question 24me gets the job done.

Plus, users can alleviate their tech budget by upgrading syncing capabilities and using the tasks database and backup on iCloud (which apparently, costs extra on similar apps).

Overall, when we talk about ministry functions, especially for bivocational leaders, 24me is a great app for event planning, maintaining notes, and facilitating communication…with the added bonus of automated administration.

Footnotes

1) Also considered the best Apple watch calendar

2) I don’t know about you, but the most frustrating apps are often ones with complicated pathways, exhausting my thumbs in the process

3) Granted, this is coming from a weather weenie

4) Note: the app doesn’t allow the user to check off tasks; you can only delete it if you want to get rid of it, so hopefully the next update with correct this

Feature cover by: http://cdn1.tnwcdn.com