Monday, January 4, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: How to survive loneliness and thrive


Gaining a new perspective by tapping into innocence
A devotional by Jessica Brodie

Do you ever get lonely? I used to struggle with loneliness a lot, especially in my teens and twenties. It still rears its ugly head on occasion.

When God created the first man, He knew right away Adam needed a companion. As it says in Genesis 2:18 (NIV), “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” From Adam, God made Eve—a suitable companion, a woman to join with him as “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

I imagine God knew Adam would get lonely with no “kindred spirit,” no fellow human to talk with and share life with. Sometimes, when we’re lonely, upset, or grumpy, a companion is exactly what we need too. Sometimes it takes spending quality time with another person to reset. Often, that’s a spouse or close friend, and it works great.

But we humans can all too quickly lure each other into our own negative mindsets. The “grumpies” can spread like a virus—even worse than COVID. Think about the times you’ve been in a cranky mood and spent time with a friend who loves to gossip. Maybe it’s a laugh at first, but soon you start to feel worse. Crankiness begets crankiness.

That’s when I’ve found spending time with those seemingly “immune” to the grumpies—little kids, cute baby animals, or super-positive ray-of-sunshine friends—can be a big help. The innocence of children can be a balm to many a soul. Perhaps that’s why Jesus was indignant when his disciples rebuked parents for bringing Jesus little children for a prayer.

“He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ And He took the children in His arms, placed His hands on them and blessed them” (Mark 10:14b-16).

Animals, too, can be the same kind of balm. They can sense pain, sickness, and sadness, certainly. But they have a beautiful way of coping with it: they seem to rest in it, accepting the moment with peace.

We can often learn a lot from animals. They were created prior to and independently of humans, given the blessing of God, and instructed to “be fruitful and increase in number” (Genesis 1:22). Clearly they are of value to God—He enjoys them! He made them!

Other people are great. But there’s a unique and treasured beauty to the time we spend with those whose hearts are not tarnished by the world. Spending time with children or animals helps refresh our souls and bring a new perspective on life. Their innocence, authenticity, and simple appreciation of life can be infectious in a very good way.

If you’re struggling in life right now—whether it’s a bad day or a rotten season in your life, whether it’s mental illness or just a temporary period of “the blues”—think about ways you can cultivate that perspective of sunshine and innocence in your life.

Even in COVID, there might be volunteer opportunities at shelters or ways you can serve in your church with young kids. And if not, consider a FaceTime session with a relative or friend with littles, or funny animal videos on YouTube.

Today’s topic, gaining a new perspective by tapping into innocence, is one of 10 included in the free eBook I created to help people shrug off their worries and center themselves in the Lord. Called A God-Centered Life: 10 Faith-Based Practices When You’re Feeling Anxious, Grumpy, or Stressed, the book is FREE for anyone who signs up for my weekly blog. Learn more and get your copy here. (If you are already a blog subscriber but haven’t gotten your copy, just email meand I’ll send it to you.)

Let’s Pray:
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you so much for the fresh perspective you enable us to enjoy through children, animals, nature, and others who can so quickly brighten any cloudy day. Help us remember that joy is not an emotion but the hope we find in Christ, but also help us understand that choosing happiness—choosing to banish negativity and learning to be content in all circumstances—is a step each of us can make each day. Thank you for walking with us in all things. Help us shine Your light in the world. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian journalist, author, blogger, editor, and devotional writer. For the last decade, she’s been the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism, which has won 118 journalism awards during her tenure.


She is the author of Feed My Sheep: A 40-Day Devotional to Develop a Heart for Hunger Ministry (2019) and More Like Jesus: A Devotional Journey (2018) and editor of Stories of Racial Awakening: Narratives on Changed Hearts and Lives of South Carolina United Methodists (2018), all from her newspaper’s Advocate Press.

She is a seasoned speaker and contributor to Crosswalk, Christianity.com, and the United Methodist News Service, among many others. She has a weekly faith blog at JessicaBrodie.com and is part of the team at Wholly Loved Ministries.

Represented by Bob Hostetler of The Steve Laube Agency, she is seeking a publishing contract for her two contemporary women’s fiction novels, The Memory Garden and Tangled Roots. The Memory Garden won the 2018 Genesis Award for Contemporary Fiction from American Christian Fiction Writers, and Tangled Roots placed in Contemporary Romance at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in 2019.

Married, Brodie has four children and stepchildren and lives in Lexington, South Carolina.

~*~
Connect with Jessica:
Website: https://www.jessicabrodie.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JessicaJBrodie
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorjessicajbrodie
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jessicajbrodie/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessicajbrodie/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/shiningthelightjessicabrodie/

11 comments:

  1. What a great message! Loneliness can come at any time, whether we are alone or in a crowd. I am thankful God is always with us.

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  2. I can so easily relate. Children can be so delightful and lift one's spirits.

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  3. It took me a while to realize that loneliness and being alone are not the same thing. There are times I can feel lonely in a crowded room and other times when I'm alone but don't feel lonely at all!

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    1. I agree completely! It took me forever to understand that, but I'm grateful I now do.

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  4. I think COVID has worsened the feelings of loneliness for many too. And I can relate. Great message of hope for all of us. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. You are so right -- COVID has been so isolating for many!

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    2. They really are amazing! I learn so much whenever I get the chance to hang out with little ones(furry or human).

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  5. Children and animals are amazing. I love your perspective and suggestion to spend time with them. We really do need their "sunshine and innocence."

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  6. You share some great insights into the power of small children and of household pets to bring peace to any time of stress and heaviness. I told my husband early in this pandemic and its lockdowns that I wished our children were all still small children living at home, for getting through the pandemic would then be much easier. Great point to write about and emphasize, Jessica.

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