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When Loneliness Hits

How can God use me when I'm weak?
It was a tough month for me—the hardest I've had since I arrived in Ukraine. They say that all missionaries "hit a wall" somewhere between four to six months on the field, and I seem to be no exception. 

Though I've made progress in speaking Russian, the inability to communicate thoroughly and deeply leaves me feeling isolated from the community. Of course, my singleness also plays into that feeling, though I've always known that loneliness isn't unique to singleness. I long to connect, to relate, and to be known by the Ukrainians here (as I was by friends back at home). How to do this without talking, especially for a loquacious girl like me? It began to seem impossible, unobtainable.

I have to admit, I let it frustrate me. I allowed the loneliness to turn my gaze inward and focus on what I DON'T have. I allowed it to feed my desire for comfort and even for a spouse, for a mere man rather than for God Himself. And I floundered for awhile, my joy dwindling away. Where was the goodness of God-that rich provision that I had experienced throughout my journey to get here? And I began to turn to temporary "fixes" (e.g. movies, food).

Redirecting my gaze
I knew that I needed help to battle this melancholy and to turn my gaze back to God. I reached out to some close friends in the States for accountability and encouragement (so thankful for Skype). God also provided a small prayer group with American women here in Odessa. And He put Scripture squarely in front of my face that unmistakably called me to repent and to trust Him. I struggled through some hard prayer times-you know, when you cry but in a good way, in confession and in realization that it is not God who strayed, but you. And there is the blessing of loneliness: it brings you to your knees and causes you to see once again His steadfast love and faithfulness.

The light became brighter, and I recognized the true object of my longing: Jesus Christ Himself. As C.S. Lewis said, "If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world."

I may not yet be able to put into (Russian) words all that I want to communicate to my Ukrainian friends, but I must believe that even my presence is a testimony to them, as the Spirit works through me even in my weakness (see the 1 Corinthians verse above). My hope is that they can see my love for them in my smile, in my eyes, and in my hugs. Now God, in His mercy, is reassuring me of this bond. Just a few days ago, my friend Snezhana said, "The [church members] feel the same way. They love you, too. You are not outside our community ... you are a part of us." To God be the glory.

Robin Price is an MTW missionary serving in Odessa, Ukraine. This was excerpted from Robin’s October 2013 newsletter. 
Robin Price, Odesa Ukraine Reflection Mar 10, 2014
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