I can never forget that sinking feeling I had as a child every report card day. You see, my older sister excelled in academics, but as hard as I tried, I could never measure up. Clutching my report card, I'd approach my father's study with my stomach in tense knots. It was difficult to breathe around the large lump that was already closing my throat. Even before I saw his disapproving scowl, I was fighting back tears.
As my father criticized and berated me for being ignorant and lazy, I felt so utterly alone, like emotionally I was falling off a high cliff. The emptiness of nowhere to go and no one to turn to left me comfortless and deserted inside. Those intense “all by myself” moments dug a deep pit of insecurity within that followed me well into midlife.
I learned to cover up my inner vulnerability with a veneer of self-sufficiency. When I felt all by myself in a situation, I would tough it out and bluff my way through, For years I kept my sense of deep aloneness hidden from others. They looked so confident, I was sure they never experienced “all by myself” moments. After working for years as a pastor dealing with people at many crisis points in life, I now know that we all have repeated times when we feel profoundly “all by myself.”
It may have started when we were the new kid in class being introduced by the teacher, staring at all the other kids and wondering, “Who will be my friend here?” It might have been the time we missed the critical opportunity to shoot the winning hoop or kick the winning field goal, and knew that we alone had let everybody else down.
As adults it may be the moment we come home to divorce papers or have to deliver an important business presentation and don't feel we measure up. May be we are passed over and that job promotion goes to someone else. Some “all by myself” moments are universal, like before surgery when we are waiting to be wheeled into face the knife, or if as an older parent we wait for the birthday phone call that never comes.
Although they really don't work well, we all develop coping mechanisms to deal with those “all by myself” moments. We distract ourselves and try not to think about how we feel. Once the moment has passed, we push back its memory and try to bury it, but it always resurfaces eventually making us uneasy. To compensate, we become as self-sufficient as we possibly can, never realizing we are forging an armor that wards off our reception of love as well as providing protection from feeling vulnerable.
Our attempts to achieve inner security through self-effort will never be successful. “All by myself” moments will always leave us vulnerable because we were not created to be alone. We were created to be loved by Father God, who wants each one of us, His children. He tells us repeatedly, “Fear not!” and assures us that He will never leave or forsake us. “I have called you by name and you are Mine” (Deuteronomy 31:6; Isaiah 43:1).
To experience the security of His love, we must drop our false sense of self-sufficiency and let Him in. Jesus addressed the superficially self-sufficient church of Laodicea in Revelation by exposing their actual insecurity and urging them to receive His love. “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone will hear My voice and open the door, I will come into him and sup with him and he with Me.”
We are not “all by myself.” We are not orphans. But we must believe Father God's promises and let Him in.
Come join us this Sunday at 9:30 AM or 11:30 AM. We are continuing our series “Father God Really Loves You.” My sermon this week is, “You Are My Child!”