Sunday, July 22, 2012

Lonely Bird? Join the Flock


by Susanne Dietze

I lie awake; I have become like a bird alone on a housetop. Psalm 102:7

For the first time since we planted it three years ago, we are enjoying baskets upon baskets of fresh-picked nectarines from our backyard tree. It’s taken long enough, eh? The problem isn’t that the tree didn’t produce, but there were always issues. Did you know snails love nectarines? I didn’t. They slimed their way up the trunk and took out the small crop the first year.

Birds love fruit—yeah, that I did know. So we netted the tree. Netting isn’t precise, though. Since the tree has changed shape since it began bearing fruit—the branches are heavier—there are gaps in the net. Lately, I get up in the morning, and before I even make a cup of tea, I shoo a flock of thrushes away from the tree before I readjust the net. If I’m lucky, I can get to a ripe nectarine before they had a chance to nibble the best parts.

Little wonder there are so many parables about bearing fruit. And robbers.
Swainson's Thrush, a possible culprit! From wikipedia.com

But when it comes to spiritual matters, emotional matters, these little birds have captured my attention. They do everything together. They zip around the tree together. Flee together. Watch me with their beady little eyes together. They’re buddies. A team.

But not all birds of a feather stick together. People sure don’t. If you’ve ever parented a pre-teenager, or been one yourself, you’ll remember how difficult it can be to find a team, a buddy, a gang, a group. And it doesn’t always get easier when we grow up. We start new jobs, take classes, move to new areas, and visit churches. All places that are full of people. And surrounded by folks, we can feel utterly alone.

The author of Psalm 102 could relate, to say the least. Dejection and agony run through the verses, in addition to feeling like a lonely bird. He writes:

For my days vanish like smoke; my bones burn like glowing embers. My heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forget to eat my food. In my distress I groan aloud and am reduced to skin and bones. (3-5)

We all have ways of coping with loneliness. We stay in, to nurse the pain or to avoid going out by ourselves. We go out, hoping to make new friends, and sometimes it works.

We are blessed to have a Lord who Himself felt rejected, misunderstood and despised. When we feel alone, we can come to Him and share our feelings. He doesn’t want us to be lonely.

But while God cares a lot about our feelings, I think He would also have us do more about the lonely birds He’s placed around us.

How so? Well, when we have good friends, we don’t feel the need to make new ones. We enjoy our bubble of fellowship … and there’s nothing wrong with comfortable friendships. Thank God for true friends who know us and love us anyway!

But does that mean we should stop seeking new friendships or stop being available to others?

One woman I spoke to recently is new in her community and church. She has become acquainted with several women whose children are of similar ages to hers. Last week, she shared with the women how she’d like to be more involved and deepen relationships, and she invited them to an activity. The group told her if she wanted to make new friends, she should visit a networking website. What this woman really wanted, however, was to to get to know them! Instead, she felt  as if she was unworthy of her Christian sisters’ time.

I would argue that being closed to friendships is unhelpful in making others feel welcome—and it might even be anti-evangelical or self-centered.

The Bible is full of verses regarding fellowship. God created us to need fellowship. He wants us to share our lives with Him and one another.

"...I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me." John 17:23

"That their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love..." Colossians 2:2

"Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith."  Galatians 6:2,10
When we lack the fellowship, pain ensues.The Psalmist’s symptoms of loneliness described in Psalm 102 are physical as well as emotional: insomnia, tears, loss of appetite. True suffering.

Watch for someone who might be suffering from the loneliness that you sometimes feel. You never know. At worst, you’ll be doing something grand in easing someone’s burden –with a smile or a lunch out or a quick note.

And who knows? Maybe you’ll become two birds of a feather.

***

 originally appeared on Tea and a Good Book

 Susanne Dietze has written love stories since she was in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she writes in the hope that her historical romances will encourage and entertain others to the glory of God. Married to a pastor and the mom of two, Susanne loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, travel, and spending time with family and friends. She won first place in the Historical category of the 2011-2012 Phoenix Rattler, and her work has finaled in the Genesis, Gotcha!, and Touched By Love Contests. You can visit her on her personal blog, Tea and a Good Book, http://www.susannedietze.blogspot.com/

12 comments:

  1. Amen, Susie. This is absolutely the truth and si important. We must always keep our eyes open to those around us. We never know what action on our part will have an affect on someone - positive and negative.

    God bless that lady who is new to the community and to the church. My heart is broken for her.

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  2. Beautifully said, Susanne. So worth meditating on...

    Thank you.

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  3. That's a sad story about that young woman but oh how I understand it. I've seen it.

    I am definitely blessed with a close circle of lifelong friends and I have to watch that I don't exclude people from my friendship just because I have a nice healthy portion already.
    I am pretty comfortable alone but I think it's very easy to feel alone and lonely when you are sad or overwhelmed. I just hate to think of someone who reaches out for friendship and is ignored. My mother taught me always to be a friend and say hello to strangers and my friend Linda Marie taught me to remember the value in each person I meet whether they appear likable or not.

    I appreciate your thoughts today, Susie. So well said.

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  4. Suzie, you are up so early today! I pray your day is off to a great start.

    I love what you said about keeping your eyes open. God may have many opportunities for us, but if we don't pay attention, we miss out.

    Sometimes just a smile can make or break someone's day. You're right. After a move to a new town, I realized I'd run several errands and walked through my neighborhood, and not one person smiled at me that day. Not even the clerk at Target. So I decided I'd better be the "smiler" wherever I went.

    A few months later, I'd become friendly with a different Target clerk. Since then, I've brought her recipes and we've talked about our Bible studies. Things can take time and effort, but friendliness shouldn't be something we disregard once we're comfortable.

    Have a great day, Suzie!

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  5. Cheryl, how are you? Great seeing you today.

    Friendships should grow organically, of course, but it just shocks me how often common courtesy and friendliness are disregarded in our culture.

    Have a wonderful day, Cheryl.

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  6. Good morning, Deb! I hope you're having a great weekend.

    Celebrate those friendships, sister! What a gift. Fellowship in our Lord is a precious thing, and we're created to crave it.

    I just noticed how many of us are so comfortable that we are closed off to new friendships...and that often comes across as flat-out coldness. Your mom and Linda Marie are very wise indeed.

    And yes, remembering everyone has value whether they appear likable or not...even when someone gets under my skin, I remind myself God adores them and they have great value and worth. Although I didn't think this about the guy who threw a half-eaten hamburger out his car window and right onto my windshield. Sigh. Well, I'll tell it to myself now.

    Thanks, Deb.

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  7. Susie, What a blessing to find this writing of yours! For me, loneliness has been part of how the Lord has drawn me near and I thank Him that He chose to suffer it as well. It is one of the deepest of human pains and I am so glad you wrote of it here. We have a single bird (blue jay) who bullies all the thrushes out so they can come your way and he has sole proprietership of our peach tree. I have decided to "give" him the upper branches this year. He appears to be the opposite of lonely, but he is like so many humans too ... lone rangers who mask their loneliness by domineering and having control and yet he misses the companionship of other bird in the process. Thanks for sharing your heart and your gift here. You are a treasure.

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  8. Susie, SO timely. Here in Colorado we've been inundated with reports about the theater shooting, and how the gunman was "a recluse" and a "loner." It's a theme we see again and again in these instances. I keep wondering what if someone had reached out to that young man a year ago, or ten years ago?

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  9. I don't get lonely often, but I certainly don't like the feeling when it happens. I need to remember not to be too withdrawn because others might be in need of friends.

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  10. Hi Patty! Thanks for coming by today! You know, the Lord has used loneliness to draw me to His side, too. He's taught me He is the best friend we could ever hope to have. He knows what loneliness feels like and we are so privileged to have a Lord who knows exactly how we feel.

    I "gave" the thrushes some of our nectarines, too. The ants ended up with a few, as well. But I refused to share with snails. What that says about me, I'm not sure... ;)

    Thanks for visiting, Patty! Hope you have a blessed week.

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  11. Oh Niki, you're so right. What if someone had reached out to a lonely boy at some point along the way? Would the terrible tragedy have happened?

    I didn't consider the timing of this post. Perhaps I should have added a disclaimer.

    The events in Aurora have been on my heart. How horrible. My prayers are with the victims and their families. Also with the alleged shooter and his family. Heartbreaking for everyone.

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  12. Some people struggle with loneliness more often than others, that's for sure, Dina. Keeping our focus on the Lord and others is never a bad thing, either. I commend you for keeping your eyes open for opportunities!

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