Question (from Facebook community): “I miss being married. How do I love Jesus while wrestling with my loneliness?”
Weekend evenings when my children are with their father are hard for me. The days are fine. I can get some things done. Or not, and not feel guilty. But then the darkness settles in around me and it’s quieter than quiet.
I was overwhelmingly lonely one night this past weekend. Like my heart was actually hurting. I realized that I’m missing someone I’ve never even met. Someone I may never meet. I know I’ve seen too many romantic movies but I’ve also seen many, many real-life, good, sweet marriages. It’s sobering to know that I’ve never experienced that and I possibly never will.
A few days ago I was talking with a new friend and she said, “I didn’t realize until after hearing about my friend’s difficult marriage how good I have it. My husband is a really good man.” “That’s the best thing I’ve heard in ages,” I told her.
There are good men out there. There are. But right now I’m emotionally exhausted from defending myself against what seems to be constant unfriendly fire. And bottomline, I don’t have a man for my own. And to be forty-two – yes, old to some, not-so-old to others – and to be looking down the barrel of another forty or fifty years kicking around this planet with the prospect of none coming for me, well, that night, I was nursing a broken, tired, lonely, lonely heart.
So I can relate. Here’s the best I can tell you about getting through the loneliness.
Grieve. Because this is hard. Sometimes we want skin and arms and hands to hold. We want audible words. We don’t want to fall asleep alone anymore. Even God said it wasn’t good for us to be alone so he did something about it. We are wired for partnership. And when we don’t have it, it’s just plain sad. So feel the feelings. Let yourself be sad when you need to.
Bring Jesus into it. Yes, he already knows how you’re feeling, but tell him anyway. And ask him to comfort you. It can happen in a myriad of ways, if our hearts are open to it. A Scripture that speaks so perfectly to our hearts or our circumstances that we’re convinced all over again that there’s a God. A song on the radio that leaves us breathless. An email or text from a friend at just the right time. Or that unexplainable peace that can fall on us and leave us speechless. So ask. And expect.
Tell someone else. Through tears I wrote out my thoughts that night and emailed them to my closest friends. They heard me. They accepted my words and my sadness. They affirmed it and me and told me they loved me and they were praying for me. We’re already lonely, so fight through and reach out…push past the tendency to isolate in your pain.
Sit with it…because it’s not the end of the world. Author Lauren Winner says this, “Maybe I should try to stay in the loneliness, just for five minutes, just for ten minutes. Maybe the loneliness has something for me. Maybe I should see what that something is. Sit with the loneliness and ask what the loneliness has for you.”
Being lonely will not kill us. It may break parts of us wide open, for certain, and it may bend us to a point where we stop seeing things clearly, but it will not destroy us. Walk up to Jesus with it…hold your hands open to him, the hands that used to hold someone else’s…and offer your loneliness to him. Just like everything else broken in our lives, he will do something beautiful if we ask and wait and hope.