A sense of community is hard to come by. Despite how much lives can now intersect with lightning speed in megabyte bursts and 140 character blurbs, loneliness is as prevalent as ever. Perhaps even more so in this age of digital convenience. We can convert files and transfer media, but relationships just simply can’t be cut, cropped, and pasted into tidy corners of our life to suit our convenience. Relationships take time and heart.
Time used to feel plentiful. If I ran out of it, there always was tomorrow.
Then came medical school and residency. Then marriage, and work, and the final blow… parenthood. With kids came the crushing reality I’d been denying for quite a while. I just don’t have enough time. Some things have to go.
This has left me frustrated. It’s been difficult to reassess my ideals and apply them to reality. I have a hard time letting things go. But above all, I’ve been puzzled by how alone I feel. Alone, despite being surrounded by caring family and friends. Alone, despite a church community that offers incredible support. And yes, alone, despite a husband who stands by me with love and commitment.
Why in the world should I feel alone?
I recently came across this poem:The hill was steep, but cheered along the way
By converse sweet, I mounted on the thought
That so it might be till the height was reached;
But suddenly a narrow winding path
Appeared, and then the Master said, ‘My child,
Here thou wilt safest walk with Me alone.’ I trembled, yet my heart’s deep trust replied,
‘So be it, Lord.’ He took my feeble hand
In His, accepting thus my will to yield Him
All, and to find all in Him.
One long, dark moment,
And no friend I saw, save Jesus only. But oh! so tenderly He led me on
And up, and spoke to me such words of cheer,
Such secret whisperings of His wondrous love,
That soon I told Him all my grief and fear,
And leaned on His strong arm confidingly. And then I found my footsteps quickened,
And light ineffable, the rugged way
Illumined, such light as only can be seen
In close companionship with God. A little while, and we shall meet again
The loved and lost; but in the rapturous joy
Of greetings, such as here we cannot know,
And happy song, and heavenly embraces,
And tender recollections rushing back
Of pilgrim life, methinks one memory
More dear and sacred than the rest, shall rise, And we who gather in the golden streets,
Shall oft be stirred to speak with grateful love
Of that dark day when Jesus bade us climb
Some narrow steep, leaning on Him alone. There is no high hill but beside some deep valley.
There is no birth without a pang.
– Dan Crawford
Nobody likes to feel alone. We tend to avoid it desperately. It never occurred to me that feeling the pangs of loneliness could possibly be a blessing. Loneliness, ironically, allows my heart to experience just how much God is truly present.
Is God simply a passing thought, pleasantly peripheral, tacked on at the end of a busy day filled with the people and things I care most about? Or instead, is God Himself the prize above all else, taking my hand and leading me securely beyond the comforts of my own self-reliant trail? Is He truly my savior? I wouldn’t know unless I felt the need to be saved. Is He truly Abba Father? I wouldn’t know unless I felt the need to be loved. Is Jesus truly friend? I wouldn’t believe it unless I felt His faithful presence in the midst of loneliness. After all, Jesus knew loneliness on the cross.
The truth is, we are all alone. Our lives may be full, our calendars may be packed, and our Facebook friends may be plenty. But there is only so much that even the best of family, friends, or spouse can know and understand of a person. There comes a time (many times) when we fail each other. We just don’t get each other. Or we hurt each other. Or we are simply too busy, too selfish, too….something.
But in these times of loneliness, God remains steadfast as ever. He understands fully. He loves completely. The blessings of people and community were never meant to fill our need for God.7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast. (Psalm 139)
In these times of loneliness, I discover once again just how much I am never alone.
*image from VisualizeUs
post linked to: