For the last several weeks, I’ve felt unexpectedly alone.
Oh, not in my home, that’s for sure. There are three kids, two working-from-home parents, a dog, and a partridge in a pear tree in this house. I haven’t actually been physically alone for months (and seeing as I’m pregnant with our fourth little one, I won’t be physically alone for a while yet!).
No, it’s an aloneness that envelops my heart as I scroll my newsfeeds and social media.
Stories of families and friends gathering for fun and celebrations, summer vacations and trips, out for dinner and date nights, attending weddings and graduations — these things and more flood my feed, and once again the ache of feeling alone floods my heart.
At the recommendation of my OB, my family and I are still socially distancing. We are not gathering with family or going out with friends. We haven’t seen my mother-in-law in person or hugged friends in months. I have stepped inside Target exactly one time since March 9th. My husband and I have left our house without the kids only once since February. My kids play with each other, not with neighbors or other pals. We have reluctantly and sadly turned down invitations and bitten our tongues to extend any. So much togetherness in this home, and yet I can feel so alone.
I feel alone when I have a virtual OB appointment and when I go to my ultrasounds by myself.
I feel alone when I wear a mask in public.
I feel alone when it appears that we are the only people left in the world actually social distancing.
And the aloneness sometimes takes over and turns into self-pity, sadness, and anger. I miss my people too! I want to be done with this huge mess too! I want to wander the aisles at Target with an iced latte and no kids in tow too! I want my kids to go back to school and grandmas house too! I want to go back to church too!
Then after a good pout, I wipe my eyes, refill my ice water or homemade iced coffee, give myself a pep talk, and move on. Because deep down I know that really, no matter what, we’re never alone — in the middle of a pandemic, in the midst of a miscarriage, when estranged from loved ones, when we live by ourselves, when facing job loss and financial mess, if our marriage and friendships are strained or even falling apart, when sick and unaccompanied in a hospital room.
When it feels overwhelmingly like we are the only ones who __________ (fill in your own blank), we’re never actually alone.
It might sound like a trite Sunday school answer, but Jesus really does stand beside us. In some of my darkest, most alone-feeling days — miserable at a job, depressed and living far away from family, during my first miscarriage — I felt as though I was literally clinging to an invisible Friend who was more present than my closest loved ones. I’ve felt Him hold my hand and carry me through the loneliest times of my life.
God meets people in their aloneness throughout Scripture, so we can trust Him to do the same for us.
David described being “alone and afflicted,” yet the Lord never left his side. Job and Jeremiah were separated from family and lived through loss, and they still spoke to God as if they knew He was there, listening and being with them in their loneliness. Jesus Himself experienced aloneness, and He gravitated toward the outcast, the vulnerable, and the friendless, giving them a voice, a new song, a story to tell.
Maybe you’re feeling like the woman Jesus met at a well. She was living a life of loneliness, despite company kept within her own walls. I’d guess her loneliness at times also turned into self-pity, sadness, and anger, yet in her encounter with the Lord at the well, her loneliness is quenched.
Then there are promises like these, in which we see the depth of God’s faithfulness:
Be strong and courageous; don’t be terrified or afraid of them. For the Lord your God is the one who will go with you; he will not leave you or abandon you.
Deuteronomy 31:6 (CSB)
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39 (CSB)
The Lord will always lead you, satisfy you in a parched land, and strengthen your bones. You will be like a watered garden and like a spring whose water never runs dry.
Isaiah 58:11 (CSB)
My six-year-old just came downstairs to the dining room table where I’m writing this. She asked what I was writing about, and I told her I was writing about what Jesus says when we’re lonely. And then she said, “Oh, like how even when you feel alone and stuff and there’s no one by you, God’s with you? Even when it feels rough to do something, you can do it ’cause He’s with you? Yeah, I learned ’bout that at Sunday school.”
And that about sums it up. Friend, you can do it — no matter what your “it” is. God is with you, and no matter what your newsfeeds say, you are not alone.
Friend, you can do it -- no matter what your 'it' is. God is with you, and no matter what, you are not alone. -@annaerendell: Click To Tweet