For two years I was stationed in Hawaii. It was a great duty station, but regardless of where you’re stationed, coming back to base after a great time with your family isn’t something you look forward to.
It’s especially difficult when you’ve got an empty squad bay. You’re one of the first to get back. There’s no one to talk to and the silence of an empty building just makes your desire to be home among your friends and family that much more intense. Those feelings will get reigned in somewhat once you’re engaged and you’re back into the rhythm of your responsibilities and you’re surrounded by other people that you know and appreciate. But until then, it’s an empty squad bay…
It can be even worse when it’s not empty, but you don’t know anyone and nobody seems to be that interested in including you in their conversation.
So, what do you do? How do you negotiate those feelings of loneliness and homesickness?
First off, don’t deny yourself what equates to a healthy response to a difficult situation. In other words, don’t try to convince yourself that you shouldn’t feel lonely. Everybody has to walk through these kind of scenarios. It’s not pleasant, but in the end it obligates you to build some spiritual / social muscles that otherwise would remain dormant.
Secondly, approach your dilemma from a position of strength. You need fellowship. You need someone to come alongside you and engage you in some healthy conversation and authentic activity. Be that person for someone else. In that moment, you’re serving them while simultaneously diverting the mental energy that would otherwise be directed towards your feelings of loneliness.
Feeling alone is tough. Scripture records several individuals who had to deal with loneliness and sadness to the point of some truly serious levels of despair. David and Paul both had to contend with some intense isolation and disappointment (Ps 91:15; 2 Cor 1:8; 2 Tim 4:16-17). Jesus Himself had to walk through some outrageous amounts of abandonment and heartache (Mk 14:50 ; Lk 22:54).
But in the end, you can rest assured that God will never abandon or forsake you (Is 41:10; 43:1-5; Matt 28:19-20). Let that Truth lift you up to the point where you can look at your situation squarely in the face and force those clouds of sadness to break to the point where the sun of God’s Truth can break through and provide the perspective that results in a legitimately cheerful disposition.
Empty squad bays will happen on occasion. They’re never pleasant but they become easier to negotiate after you’ve had the chance to experience the remedy represented by looking for opportunities to engage other people who are feeling the same way. It’s not a “trick” or a “gimmick.” It’s placing yourself in a position of strength that stems from the Truth of God’s Love and Power that lives in you.
Go get ‘em!