When people say that they feel lonely or struggle with loneliness, what are they really saying? Usually they mean that when they consider a group of people, they don’t see themselves as fitting in well or being a good match with the members of that group. They see all the other members of that particular group as relating betterl and having more in common.
It’s quite the feeling to be in a room full of people and yet feel alone. Even if they see you as fitting in with them externally, you know internally that you just do not “click” with these persons. You may dress similarly, you may worship similarly, and you may be of the same age range, educational level, and background. But even with all of those things in common, you can yet feel terribly alone.
But what does it truly mean to “fit in”?
While driving home after bible study one Tuesday night, an image flashed in my mind of one of those icing funnels that you squeeze icing into in order to write words on cakes. And the words, “trying to fit something big into something small” came to mind. In the image, there was a lot of icing that was being made to be compressed into a small shape that it did not fit very well into. And it made the icing feel uncomfortable and pressured. And that’s sometimes how you can feel when you’re trying to make yourself fit into an environment in which you don’t really belong.
In order to “fit” into a place where you do not belong, the following has to occur: you have to change your God-given shape in order to make it appear as if you were originally intended to be in the place in which you are trying to fit in. Take for instance a puzzle piece. If you have a puzzle like the one I have in my children’s classroom, it contains three puzzle pieces. Because all three pieces are very different, you cannot place them comfortably in the wrong spot. And if you attempted to do so, you would leave the correct puzzle piece to go to another spot in which it too does not belong.
When you are where you do not belong, you are in someone else’s proper place. For example, if you are in a romantic relationship in which you do not belong, you are not merely taking up space, but you are taking up someone else’s rightful place. It is best that you find where you belong.
But what does it mean to belong though? I see belong as a root word of the word “belonging”. If something is my belonging, then it belongs to me. In order to know where you belong, you need to know whose belonging you are. I would like to consider the story of Adam and Eve to drive this point home.
Adam and Eve were like a match made in heaven. They are one couple that we can all say, without a shadow of a doubt, that were put together by God. We know full well that God put these two together even considering the issue they had concerning the fruit and the serpent. We know that God intended for these two to be together because Eve was a belonging of Adam’s in that she was Adam’s rib. She was literally contrived from one of Adam’s twelve pair of ribs. She was what we could call a puzzle piece from his body puzzle. She belonged to him because she was his belonging.
But let’s go further. Oftentimes we try to link up with just any body because we THINK we would fit or because we will try our hardest to fit. But is that what Eve had to do? Did she have to make Adam her “soulmate”? No, because with Adam was where she belonged.
We will always feel out of place when we try to fit into the wrong puzzle. At my job, I have two puzzles that come to mind. I have an apple puzzle and a duck puzzle. The apple puzzle contains five apples of different sizes even thought they are all the same shape. And even though they are the same shape, they will not properly “snap” into the right missing place because they were not cut from that shape. The same goes for the duck puzzle. There are three ducks, but they are in three different positions; one has the duck wading on top of water, the other has the duck diving into the water, and the third position has the duck flying in the air. Even though all three positions are of depictions the same duck, the three pieces will not fit into another’s place. This is the case for obvious reasons, but also to go a little deeper, we have to understand that the puzzle pieces were cut from a once whole wooden picture. The picture of the three ducks and five apples were already painted onto a wooden canvas. And a die-cut was made to cut out the shapes from the wooden canvas. So it wasn’t as if the puzzle was made with HOLES; the puzzle was originally made WHOLE just as Adam was made whole. Then after some time, God put a hole in Adam in his rib cage by cutting Eve out of his rib cage.
The place where you belong is the place you were cut out of. You will always feel out of place until you find that place. Don’t just find SOME place, ANY place, or just A place and expect to fit in perfectly because the truth is that you were taken out of a particular place. Eve was not just taken out of one man and expected to link up with any man. God knows where He wants you. And He allows you to feel lonely until you find that place.
If you try to settle and just try to fit in anywhere, you will be like that icing crammed into that funnel tube. To try to fit where you do not belong will require the following from you: you will have to cut off parts of yourself in order to fit in. You cannot be all of you and expect to fit into every place you try to squeeze into. In order to fit into some churches, you will have to cut off parts of yourself. In order to fit into certain cliques, you will have to cut off parts of yourself. In order to date certain people, you will have to cut off parts of yourself. Remember that you will never have to cut off parts of yourself in order to fit where you belong. You will never have to cut off parts of yourself in order to fit where you were cut out of because where you came from will fit you perfectly being that you left a You-Shaped puzzle piece in that puzzle.
Jesus never fit in on earth because He was not originally from earth. He came from heaven. He fits perfectly in heaven because He came from heaven. Likewise, you will never fit in with that man or that woman, because they do not belong to you or vice-versa; you are trying to fit into someone else’s man or woman. You will never fit in with that set of coworkers, because that is not the job God wants you at. You will never fit in at that church because God may want you at another one. You will never fit in in that particular city because God wants you moving somewhere else.
So we see that loneliness is not just a temporary feeling like happiness or sadness. Loneliness is an indication that you have not yet found your niche. It is an indication that you are in the wrong place. And what is important to note is that you may have fit in with a particular group or place at a certain time, but as you have grown, you have outgrown that place or those persons. As you change, so will your environment. You may be big trying to squeeze into a cramped space just to be alone.
And ultimately, you will have outgrown earth in order to realize that it’s time for you to fit into heaven. Let your loneliness motivate you to pray that God take you to where and who you belong!