Each family is perfect the way God designs them whether you are oldest, middle, youngest or just in between. He places each child in a specific order for a reason He alone knows, but sometimes allows us to have some insight on why. For those of my readers who don't know me personally, I am the 2nd oldest in a family of 7 children. I love my family, it is quite large compared to the normal family, but I wouldn't change it for anything. We are all very close and have a great time together, besides the spats here and there!;)
Through all of my growing up years me and my older sister were best friends, doing everything together. During different pastorates my Dad had we were the only friends that each other had, so we grew closer due to that also. She tends to be the outgoing one, whereas I'm more shy and kind of to myself. I always tagged along behind her learning so many things to do, and also NOT to do. ;) Unknowingly I depended on her to do so much, and just tagged along behind. When my sister got married in 2009 it was like a rug was pulled out from underneath me. I had lost my sister, best friend, roommate and in a way my confidence too; I became so lonely. As I look at it today it was almost like the Lord said, I can't use you if you're always tagging along behind someone; your eyes must be on Me alone. He also had much greater plans for my sister than always leading me about! Just because I am shy and quiet by nature doesn't mean that's how the Lord wants me to be. I can't show or tell others about the Lord if I'm quiet and don't say a word. It took me quite a while to establish a new normal after a big hole was made in my life. Through talking with my Mom and dealing with loneliness she told me, "Jessica when you feel lonely or are discouraged find a place to serve the Lord, and just keep serving until the Lord moves you or shows you something else. When you are focused on someone else through serving the Lord, you will tend to not notice the loneliness so much." Matthew 6:33 "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness: and all these things shall be added unto you." So that's what I did, I started serving in as many places in the church as I could. Slowly I began to establish a new confidence I had never had on my own before. Those who know me know that I am still shy but slowly the more I serve others, big and little, slowly the Lord is helping me come out of that shell.
I wish I could say that I am no longer lonely but this is just the opposite, sometimes the ache of desiring someone to be serving along side of is so overwhelming, but the Lord is good and reminds me to not get my eyes off of Him. Seek HIM first, not what I want. Serving the Lord consists of sacrificing what I want for what He wants!
I Cor 7:43b "The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit:" This is the verse I quote to myself over and over. I remind myself this is my job at this time of my life, until the Lord shows me differently. I have made it my choice to be so busy serving, I have no time for much else. Usually from the moment I step on the church property Sundays & Wednesdays I go from one area of service directly to the next. I have received comments because I don't socialize a whole lot during church, because I'm always going. I have made this my choice so I don't get my eyes off of the focus, there are many temporal things I can look at that will distract me from the Lord, and make me unusable to Him. I know the Lord specifically placed Ashley in my life as my older sister, so I could be a follower and learn things from her; and then for her to to get married and move out of the country (as a missionary) because He knew that was the only way I would become usable for Him. He allowed me to go through a process of stripping me of my confidence in her, to my confidence in the Lord alone. I thank the Lord so much for giving me a sister to learn from, then also for those tough lessons He puts us through to mold us and make us into what He needs us to be.
Whether you are married, unmarried, in the ministry or not, have children or don't I think all of us struggle with loneliness from time to time. The Lord allows loneliness and other discouragement to come in our lives to always teach us something. It could simply be He wants us to spend more time with Him, or to find somewhere or someone to serve. I think all of us must realize when we start becoming focused inward through dwelling on being lonely, offended, or just discouraged our eyes are becoming clouded by things of the flesh. It is not about how we feel or what will make US happy, it is about how we can please the Lord and what will make HIM happy.