The lonely, dusty roads…

Have you ever been on the receiving end of the silent treatment or even ignored and wondered why it caused such an emotional sting? Science is now able to tell us; the chemical reactions that occur in the brain when feeling rejected, ignored, lonely, or on the receiving end of a silent treatment are the same chemical signals the brain sends off when in physical pain. Basically, it is like having a broken arm or a bruise that you cannot see, depending on the degree to which one is ignored and experiencing loneliness. Professional therapists even go so far as to call the silent treatment and certain forms of rejection emotional abuse because the effects of it, while unseen, are just as damaging as being hit, if not more so.

The Greek word for ‘rejection’ is atheteó which means quite plainly, in one context, ‘ignored’. The Greek word for ‘lonely’ is erémos which means ‘abandoned, desolate, or deserted’. Those are fairly strong words to describe what it means to the heart when we experience rejection or loneliness. We were created to relate and to experience relationships; we were created with a desire to belong. God even addresses this is Genesis 2:18:

The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

When I was sitting through all of the psychology classes in college and had to do a psychiatric rotation, I became very familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Today, the needs triangle looks different than it did in textbooks a decades ago, however the concept is still quite similar. Our need for food, shelter, love, and belonging need to be met before our sense of worth or value can be nurtured. When people, especially children, go without safety, security, love, or belonging those unmet needs create a sense of worthlessness and hopelessness with deep roots that create a stronghold difficult to overcome. There are a lot of broken people walking around and their lives may even reflect that brokenness, regardless of the season to be jolly.

Thankfully, we have a God who loves us deeply and longs for us.  In fact, He is even jealous for our love and attention.  Latin roots for the word ‘jealousy’ also have the same roots for the word ‘zeal’. The Greek word zéloó in one context means ‘I am eager for, am eager to possess’. The best verse I have found to create a word picture for how much the Lord truly longs for us is in Deuteronomy 4:24:

For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

God does not want us to be in a state of loneliness, nor does He want us to ignore one another. Our God is a God of reconciliation and it is His will and desire that people are drawn into loving relationships with one another through Him. Just imagine a world where we were all consumed in a fire of love toward each other!  I believe it grieves the Lord greatly when we do not respond to those around us in an attitude of love and, instead, respond in an attitude that could send the message we do not care.

1 Timothy 5:8

Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

The Greek word for ‘provide’ is pronoeó and can mean, in this context, ‘showing necessary forethought to act properly’. As the holiday season approaches, let us not forget those who may be in need of love and kindness. We may need to have the ‘necessary forethought to act properly’ toward those who test our ability to do so.

This may include Uncle Ted who had a little too much wine with his turkey dinner and let’s his mouth run afoul, sending your sister fleeing from the room in tears.

It might even include Aunt Myrna who generally has nothing nice to say to or about anyone and is wondering why you bought an unsavory pie from the store instead of making your own, because in her day women knew their place and they made time to cook for their families.  

Or, maybe those two cousins you never see just want to spend the entire dinner arguing with you about politics and who’s side are you on anyway?  

Your older Aunt Thea may sit with a pout, not saying a word to anyone while eyeballing the room with the stink-eye or sifting through her food suspiciously with a fork.

Grandma Betsy might want to fill your ear with woes about her corns and calluses, cataracts, and her failing kidneys while she complains endlessly about why you should feel sorry for her.  

Grandpa Harold cannot hear a word anyone is saying and keeps shouting, “What? Who would pee on a plate?”  All the while you are losing your wits trying to explain, “Grandpa, no! I was telling the kids to behave!” 

Or, maybe you don’t really have any of these people in your life at all and you are wondering about your place and whether or not you belong anywhere.

We live in a world that is wrought with homelessness, the cycle of addiction, estranged families, broken hearts, wounds, injuries, illnesses, death, and a plethora of other reasons and issues that might cause one to feel rejected or alone. Even the simple act of a smile can trigger the brain to respond with chemicals from the pleasure center which will, in effect, lift someone’s spirits and give them a sense of hope they may not otherwise experience without a flash of your pearly whites in their direction.

Some people are walking on a long, lonely road and have no sense of the Lord’s presence in their lives. They are covered in the dust of their trials and starved for a place to belong.

Now is the time to dress ourselves in an attitude of love and spread the joy that we ourselves have received from Him. Now is the time to take someone by the hand, walk with them a bit, and help dust them off.

We do not need to be in dread of the holiday season or even dismayed about the challenges it brings. We do have a Friend and He longs to fulfill the desires of our hearts, even when those around us are unable to do so.

The Lord wants to walk with us and to dust us off from all of the lonely roads we have traveled. We are, indeed, never truly alone. There will always be a place for us reserved at His table.

Further Reading:   Silent Treatment and Emotional Abuse

Why Love Hurts   /   Being Ignored Hurts   /   Rejection and Chemical Changes

Word Roots on Jealousy      /     Strong’s Greek Dictionary


80 thoughts on “The lonely, dusty roads…”

    1. Absolutely, that is a decision that some have to make. I did a study into the whole “wipe the dust off of your feet” in Matthew 10:14. It is actually perfectly appropriate to do that with an attitude of love when we have exhausted all efforts. We can keep the door open and even be willing to respond in a time of need, but we have permission to wipe the dust off. Relationships are a two-way road and there is nothing we can do about those who do not wish to meet us halfway for the sake of a healthy relationship. And, if anyone is truly toxic and abusive, then an even stricter sense of boundary is the right thing to do. The people who care will show up and put the effort into it. May God bless you!

      Liked by 6 people

      1. Amen to THAT! It can be very emotionally and physically draining when dealing with family or friends who have only one thing on their mind…THEIR needs and desires. Exhausting. So, yes, at some point one must do what is best for themselves AND the other people involved and that is kindly and lovingly close that door but remain available in emergencies or if they decide to become productive in the relationship. Just MHO. 😁

        Great article!!

        Liked by 4 people

  1. This is absolutely excellent! The tie into the Godly references are well done…maybe that’s why God wants us to engage our fellow human beings with goodness and fellowship. He knows humans the best of all; after all, He created us and all that is in us!


    Liked by 4 people

  2. For a moment there, I thought you were describing my family. Recently I saw a sign that said, “Holidays with my family is a trip….” and at the bottom it said, “to the liquor store.” Great thoughts. I was thinking about that time we were at a Huddle House when our server came by to see if we needed more coffee. I replied, “No thank you, Sue.” I saw her name tag and used her name. She stopped, put the coffee pot on our table and said, “You are the first one today who has used my name. It’s always ‘Hey’ or ‘Hey you’, thanks for recognizing i have a name.” Ever since then I’ve made the attempt to call servers, cashiers, associates, etc. by their name when I see it on their name tag. Thanks again for this wonderful reminder of God’s love for us–and how we should love others.

    Liked by 8 people

  3. When I used to go to my home of origin for Holidays, I often thought, I (and my family) am the only Jesus my family sees. There were NO Christians among my family or relatives. So I prayed that I would love as He loves, forgive as He forgives, shine the light into the darkness. So much has changed, many in my family have now received Jesus as Lord and the dynamics also changed. God is Good! This was very well written JD. Great preparation for those entering into dysfunction for the Holidays.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Enjoyed picturing the family members (which I believe we all have! LOL). Thank you for this post because today I’ve been feeling rather alone and your post reminded me that I need to focus on Him more because I am never truly alone. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  5. You are so right!!! God did not make us to be loners but made us to crave relationship……with Him and with those He created. My husband and I were at a restaurant today when an older gentlemen stopped by our table to talk. We found out he had lost his wife 3 years earlier. I think he was so intensely lonely that he reached out to total strangers to connect. We ended up sitting there an extra 45 minutes because we did not want to brush him off. I have no idea who he is other than he was created by God.
    Thanks for the reminder to be Jesus with skin on to those around us.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I absolutely agree with you. An elderly woman called my cell phone by mistake, but I heard something so frantic in her voice that I kept her on the phone and asked her how I could help. It turned into a therapy session for her while I investigated for information on the computer. There was a family situation going on and intervention was needed. By the time we hung up, I was thinking, “Now, what would have happened if I just blew her off, told her it was the wrong number, and hung up?”

      I like to think that God had her call my number by mistake because she just needed someone who cared to listen. Those little things will make all the difference in someone’s world if we are just willing to set ourselves aside momentarily to take an interest.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. That call was not a mistake. God does not do things by mistake.:) It was meant to be, and you were the Good Samaritan. The woman was the “angel” you entertained. Thank you for sharing this lovely story of how God helps us to help each other.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Whenever I go out to the store or anywhere I always look at every person that passes by me and if they look at me I always smile and say “hi ” or “how are you ?”. The look on their faces ….some look like they’ve been woken up out of a trance, some light right up…. It’s sad that we live in a world so desperate to be loved yet most people are hiding, won’t meet other’s gaze, look at the ground as they walk. So I make it an absolute point to shine that loving light as often as possible because who knows whose day it could make.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. I always felt that the beauty of a relationship isn’t that it’s perfect, but that those involved were willing to steadfastly participate in it. Such is a family or an enduring marriage or friendship. It may be bumpy, but each were THERE to feel the bumps. Your post illustrates this nicely!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. The more I read … the more I feel good. The more I feel good the less I read … We need to keep in touch … by talking to him ( others call it praying. ) Jesus said: “Split wood, I am there. Lift up a rock, you will find me there.”
    Jesus said: If your leaders say to you ‘Look! The Kingdom is in the heavens!” Then the birds will be there before you are. If they say that the Kingdom is in the sea, then the fish will be there before you are. Rather, the Kingdom is within you and it is outside of you.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Books are written by men … belief is a personal thing… Do good and expect nothing in return … do bad and remember! No one is perfect … and he who is without sin through the first stone.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m certainly not without sin and I’m definitely not throwing any stones. I have read the gnostic gospels and there are a lot of things in there that do not sound like something that Jesus would actually say. I’m not trying to tell you what to believe, but please do take into consideration what the Apostle Paul says,
        All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
        2 Timothy 3:16

        Liked by 2 people

      1. I will along side everyone give testimony and explanation of ALL my doings … God is the only True Gudge … Through Jesus’s doing … I fear no evil. God is good.

        Liked by 2 people

  9. Good thoughts to prepare ourselves for some challenges God might have for us in this week of Thanksgiving.

    Btw, just curuous, are you a psychologist or major in psych in college? I ask because both of my parents are psychologists. My mom has a masters, my dad has his PhD and they’ve practiced for like 40+ years between both of them. I’ve heard my dad talk Maslow many times haha!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. No, but sometimes I wish I would have used all of that psychology to go into counseling. I just sincerely enjoyed those classes and I was even part of the psychology club for a while. It all comes in handy now with children; the stages of development and Piaget and Erikson, etc., etc. I suppose you are well versed in self-actualization with all of that psychology around the dinner table! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes Piaget and Erikson, my dad and I have a couple fireside chats with those names popping up! Haha! It is a neat science. my dad has an interesting point of view on it. Both of my parents are strong believers, and hearing them integrate psych into theology is very interesting. It does have some utility now as a parent, agreed. Especially understanding what our children can and cannot process at the age they are at. Good stuff! Have you ever read Love and Logic before? It’s good. We are in the waiting list to adopt and our DHS training went through the high level parts of L&L

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Wow, it would be so fun to chat with your parents! I happen to believe that psychology (when you pull out some of the twisted ideas) combined with theology opens up an entirely new view of spiritual warfare. We may not wrestle with flesh and blood, but we do wrestle with the lies of the heart and soul. I believe healing ministries would do well to combine even the most basic psychology with scripture, especially in the context of Greek and Hebrew. So, you set up the dinner date and I will pack the husband and children so we can all have a fireside chat! 😀

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Haha I love that! Deal, I’ll get the wife and the kiddos…I’ll let my wife prep our cooking to bring (you do NOT want to eat anything I cook myself haha!) And we’ll get that one set up!

        Love everything you had here. Do you know or study Greek and Hebrew? I noticed you referencing Greek a lot in the post? I don’t know if you’ve read much of my blog but I know Hebrew to like the intermediate level and am learning Greek. I love learning then both!!

        My favorite writer, John Eldredge, said something very similar at a talk he gave on uniting healing ministries with both sound psychology and counseling practices in conjunction with the healing we have available through his Word and Spirit. I think it helps us understand the underlying mechanics of what the Spirit does in us to bring about healing in many, but not all, cases. It’s good stuff! You’d probably enjoy discussing these things with my parents, my dad especially loves delving into these things with Scripture! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    3. I do a lot of study into Greek, Latin, and Hebrew on my own, just because. I like words and their meanings. I discovered that it opened up scripture in amazing ways and it completely dismantles screwy doctrinal ideas. I explain a bit as to why that is: https://shatteredinhim.com/2016/10/10/dont-be-afraid-of-no-ghost/

      And, yes, sound psychology with scripture has been powerful when it comes to what I have been walking through with PTSD, anxiety, and postpartum depression. I have been writing it all down, taking notes, and I continue to use Latin, Greek, and Hebrew to open up scripture. While I am a layman when it comes to language, I find it very comforting. If you and your wife ever get a chance, you should check out this ministry: http://www.119ministries.com/teachings/ My husband and I have watched together and we enjoy the way they approach teachings and explain the Torah. It is very sound and stable.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Latin too?! That’s impressive. After I get done with Greek, I’m moving on to Latin. My dad’s side of the family is Jewish so I started out with Hebrew, I learned it 12 years ago. We just started Greek earlier this year though. It’s a lovely language! I have a nice Hebrew and Greek readers Bible that I use. I gave up on English translations. I love reading it in just the original languages, so many little things get lost in translation.

        Psych can be good for that. I have struggled with anxiety and panic attacks in the past and I’ve gotten some tips from my dad on combating it psychologically along with fighting in the Spirit.

        I’ll check out 119, thanks for letting me know about it!

        Do you have any Greek or Hebrew textbooks or resources you are currently using to learn it?

        Liked by 3 people

    4. Well, with all of your Hebrew, perhaps the 119 ministry will be too fundamental, but I have definitely enjoyed those teachings. I do not have any textbooks, but I am about to start searching for some. Or, even having concordances to flip through would be fun. I started out with Hebrew4Christians: http://www.hebrew4christians.com/ It started with the names of the Lord, which is what I recite to myself in moments of anxiety, especially if it is related to PTSD or panicking. It amazes me how often that actually works and starts to soothe everything. Then, I started learning simple Hebrew phrases, which I now use to pray with (especially to welcome the Spirit and in times of distress). I have a white board out in the garage where I write new words and phrases to memorize while I do the elliptical (I get much meditation and prayer done on that elliptical!). I also listen to a lot of Paul Wilbur and Joshua Aaron to reinforce the words and prayers, plus I have found a plethora of other messianic music that I have grown fond of. I heard the song Jerusalem Gold and it was so powerful that I was hooked on Hebrew songs. I will use concordances online for Greek and Latin, or I find academic pages that are accessible (some universities will have those things online). My bookmarks for my browser go on and on and on with pages for Greek and Latin. I am quite a novice and I do not know that I could ever be fluent, but using the combination of word roots to chew on scripture has been nurturing and healing for the mind in so many ways. It is one way I am able to “take every thought captive”.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I started out with Beginning Biblical Hebrew by Cook and Holmstedt – https://www.amazon.com/Beginning-Biblical-Hebrew-Grammar-Illustrated/dp/0801048869 it’s a good intro book and got me up and running, especially after I hadn’t been studying Hebrew diligently while finishing grad school. Have you gotten to the Binyaniim yet and different verb conjugations? That’s a big hurdle. Once I cleared that and got some of the other grammatical rules down, it was mostly just vocabulary memorization after that.

        For Greek…so right now my dad and I are taking Skype tutoring lessons with a grad seminary student. We are going through Rodney Decker’s Reading Koine Greek https://www.amazon.com/dp/B015OP233C/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1
        It’s an intro and intermediate textbook and workbook in one. It is highly regarded in the Biblical linguistics world. It’s FANTASTIC! Seriously, if you get one Greek textbook, I really recommend Decker! So good.

        Latin I’m hoping to be the next step for me. Are you using it to read the Vulgate and do you have any recommendations for study resources?

        Using Scripture in Hebrew or Greek is a great way to combat anxiety. I think it probably has to do with something about using the Word as the sword of the Spirit, while at the same time refocusing the mind to learning something new. That’s a neat idea about the whiteboard for you to read off of while working out! I usually do my studies in between the billion other things I have going on, I sneak in some vocabulary while riding the elevator or at lunch!

        It takes a lot of time to get to fluency and for the first part it felt like I wasn’t even studying the word, but just learning basic stuff about the language like grammatical rules, which I had to know before I could read anything in Greek. It’s so worth it though in my experience! You’re so right, it helps me take every thought captive too!

        Liked by 3 people

    5. Oh, my goodness. I love those books by what I could see on the preview. I put them on my wishlist. So far, I have only been able to work phonetically, because actually writing and reading takes discipline and practice. I am very clumsy with it. It is not easy, especially because I am not as young and absorbent as I once was. It gets harder and harder to retain the information. Thank you for those book references, because I think those could help greatly in making it all come more alive. I figure if I have the basics of the phonetics, perhaps the reading and writing of it will start to fall into place. I want to be able to teach my children while they are young and able to catch on to other languages quickly. This will certainly help with that. And, the Vulgate!! That is exactly what I have been needing. My sources have been academic write ups, sites put together by linguists, etc., etc.. And, I have to do it all in between the other obligations that come with a full house and outside endeavors. Where I am at is very basic and fundamental, but it is a start! This has been a fruitful conversation for me. I am excited about the Vulgate. I feel like I just discovered a missing piece. Thank you, thank you! 😀 😀

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh I hear you on the time issue! I have to pack in my study in between the zillion other things Jesus has me doing these days. Being a husband, fatherhood, working, studying, blogging, I’m leading two small groups, fellowship and support for believers in my circles, etc…it’s a miracle I have time for it haha!

        I’d love to hear your thoughts if you get any of these books! I’m off work today and have been reading Decker on and off. I’m working on demonstrative pronouns today in between snuggling my sleeping and not-feeling-so-well baby 😦

        Phoenrtically for Greek there are a couple avenues. My tutor is teaching us modern Greek pronounciation. A lot of seminaries use erasmian greek, which is an approximation developed bhy Erasmus to recreate how they spoke Koine. Its arguably not entirely accurate and so our tutor just goes with modern, but it’s pretty different from erasmian.

        Hebrew is a different beast! Have you got down pronouncing the ח and the כ sounds? Writing you can down in either print or script. My undergrad classes were modern hebrew, so we wrote in script, read in print, which I’m still doing. The textbooks I posted both have sections on writing and speaking! So glad you thought this was helpful!! I always love meeting another student of biblical languages!!!

        Liked by 2 people

  10. Beautiful! My friend and I were literally just talking about part of this — a family member of hers who has absolutely no sense of the Lord’s presence and has come a long, lonely way without Him. May we all be filled with the joy of the Lord, imitating Him as His beloved children through the holidays and long beyond! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I pray that friend’s journey will become less lonely. I was thinking, earlier today, of where I have been and how it makes my heart ache to think of all the people out there who are there now. God can do such amazing things when He finds those lost sheep!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So, so true! I know I was on the lost and lonely road myself for a long time. It is heartbreaking to watch when you understand how it feels. You are so right — He really can do amazing things with His lost sheep! I am so, so thankful He found me and dusted me off.

        Liked by 3 people

      1. Thank you! It’s really her brother-in-law and it’s a long story that is not mine to tell. They will be up with him over Christmas break, so I am just praying for his heart to be opened to the truth. There are so many hurting people with mistakes that they feel are too big to forgive. I used to be one of them, so my heart really hurts for those who are still believing lies…

        Liked by 1 person

  11. This is such a timely post for me as I am feeling a little rejected at the moment. I am glad that I was guided here as I feel so much better for having read this. Your writing is amazing and powerful and I am blown away by it. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Forgot something! that 3rd para from the bottom of your post reminded me of my latest post: “Guidance” which you kindly agreed with Lady G was a gem. I talk about being taken by the hand … We seem to pulled together a lot these days. Wonder why? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi JD,
    I recently asked God to teach me how to love unconditionally. He told me I can’t until I learned how to accept unconditionally. He said I’m too critical. So I stopped being as critical and what I’ve learned is love is not determined by the one being loved but rather by the one chossing to love. God don’t love us because we’re lovable but because He is loving. That’s why when people you mentioned in this post see us loving them in spite of, they know it’s the God is us that’s doing it.
    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. We need to practically shine the light for others to see; one of the ways is in putting up with the exigencies of some relationships. This post is filled with so much love, Thanks so much for sharing, may the LORD help us all

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We have got to help dust each other off! This life is hard enough and no one should have to walk alone. I have been there and done that. It makes it so much harder to keep putting one foot in front of the other. So, you just keep writing and putting one foot in front of the other. You’ve got people who care! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  15. A beautiful post. I have written about rejection, as well, this weekend. I think loneliness and rejection are especially difficult to bear around the holidays. Those without families or funds imagine happy hearths and plentiful tables. May God extend comfort to them all. Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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