Another restless night of sleep for me. Another night of tending to this loneliness that resides within. I can’t remember a time in my life when I’ve felt so lonely. Not alone, just lonely. There’s a difference, you know. Aloneness is easily cured. Loneliness? Well, a bit harder to remedy.
I imagine we could all recount an occasion when our being surrounded by persons didn’t come close to fixing the internal ache of loneliness… of desperately wanting to be known, yet not being able to find a single soul to take notice. To ask a question. To bend low for engagement. That’s where I’ve been for the past five weeks. I didn’t notice it at first. Life kept me busy and sitting on stress for a long while, thus abating those initial inclinations that something was a bit skewed on the relational front.
But after a week of few phone calls and even fewer visits, my heart began to hurt. After five weeks of it, even more so. I’m living with some open wounds, and try as I may, there’s a part of me that wants to isolate myself rather than continue to try and permeate this new community with my presence. It’s never been so hard for me to make friends. Friend-making comes naturally for me, but there’s something different going on here. Something that isn’t an easy fit with my heart, and I am weighed down with the struggle.
But then she called this morning. A new acquaintance in keeping with the status of my “ancient” friends from yesterday. She told me she’d be around to get me for lunch… that we’d be going to the Bordeaux Drug Store for some egg salad and some conversation. True to her word, we made our way to the lunch counter at the Bordeaux and spent the next hour getting to know one another a little better. At eighty years of age, the only thing slow about this woman is her pace. Her mind, her wit, her vim and vigor are as up-to-date as this morning’s forecast. She even took on a baby copperhead snake with the end of her cane as we made our way to the car.
“I think I murdered him,” she said, “and that pleases me.”
And then I laughed… a lot… wondering all the while how many other snakes she’s taken on in her eight decades worth of living. Something tells me this wasn’t her first one. I imagine we’ll have some more time for discovery in the days to come. And while our time ended with me wondering if she really knew me any better than when we started, I was thankful for the diversion… for being considered and for being called.
It’s a start. A simple, slow one, but enough to keep me hopeful and to keep me willing to sow some further seed, even though the ground beneath my feet seems so unresponsive to its arrival. God knew I needed that phone call; he knows I need more. I’m counting on his “knowing” for, with his knowing, comes engagement of the heavenly kind.
Lonely doesn’t feel so lonely when heaven’s walking with me. Lonely is manageable with Jesus at my side, but I don’t mind telling him and you that a few more lunches at the Bordeaux would go a long way toward easing my internal ache.
And so I’ll pray for that and should you, like me, feel the ache of loneliness in this season of your life, I’ll pray for you as well. I believe this to be a temporary condition, for our Father is faithful to entreat the prayers of our hearts and to shower us with his good answers… his good people. He created us to be relational creatures. He wouldn’t have done so if he didn’t intend to fill that need with others who were created for the same. All of us, every last one of us, have an innate desire to know and to be known. We mustn’t make any apologies therein; rather we must keep ourselves to the task of celebrating God’s created by knowing God’s created. By opening up our hearts to make room for just one more lonely soul who needs to know his/her worthiness in light of the kingdom of God.
And one last thing…
Don’t assume your pastor’s wife is brimming over with friendships… that her busyness is an indication of her fullness. Bend low to ask a few questions this week, make a phone call, or send her a card. Better yet, find a Bordeaux counter that serves some homemade egg salad and treat her to lunch. She’ll be blessed to know that she matters to you and that you think her worthy of your time.
I love you each one. Thank you for genuinely loving me and allowing me to share my heart with you. I covet your prayers in this season, and as always…
Peace for the journey,