It’s surprising how often I’m by myself considering I live with five other people: my husband, our twenty-one-year-old, eighteen-year-old, and sixteen-year-old daughters, and my twenty-one-year-old daughter’s best friend, my bonus daughter. As a mother of eight children whose births were spread out over nineteen years, I’ve been surrounded by people, noise, and activity for a long time. Our current household of six sounds like a lot of people, but since everyone can bathe, clothe, feed themselves, and do their own laundry, it feels like a smaller crowd.
Because COVID has created gaps and disruptions in business and the workforce, my husband has had to work longer hours to perform additional duties besides his own as a manager. Quality time is my love language (and his too), but our time together seems to be scarce. We are quality time people who aren’t getting much quality time.
My daughters (and bonus daughter) binge watch shows together, go to coffee shops for group Bible study, and have jobs outside the home. Their days are long and their lives are full, and there are periods of time when I don’t see them very much either. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I enjoy having a quiet house to myself, but some days I feel lonely (and even a little bit sorry for myself), because it feels like maybe I’m slipping between the cracks.
My once-a-week teaching job connected me with students, their parents, and other tutors, but I retired at the end of last school year. I participate in two monthly book clubs, but often I only see the other women on the nights we meet. (I need to be more intentional about correcting this.) I realize my life is in flux — a transition period — and I trust God has a plan for me. The next chapter in my story is waiting to be written, but for now, it’s still a mystery. Just as boredom can spark creativity, our empty places yearn to be filled, and I believe God can use those feelings of loneliness or discontent to nudge us forward on our path.
My days are quieter and less chaotic than they were in the past. It was inevitable our eight children would start to grow up, move out, and begin their adult lives, right? That was always our hope for them. But even when I feel lonely, I’m never alone. Not for a minute. When I feel the most isolated and left out, it suddenly hits me . . .
Jesus is here with me!
How could I forget? He turns everything around, disperses the dark cloud that hangs over my head, and brings so much comfort, so much peace. When I’m at a low point and remember this truth, it makes me smile with delight, like when I find a $20 bill in my coat pocket or a chocolate bar stashed away and forgotten. Obviously, Jesus is so much more than that — Jesus is everything.
When I get so caught up in feeling left out, isolated, or alone, I forget my dear Friend is always by my side, ready, willing, and able to fill my empty spaces. He knows the messiest parts of me — the impatience, intolerance, and the things I don’t want anyone else to see — and He loves me anyway.
To an unbeliever, sharing your life and thoughts with someone you can’t see might sound foolish. But to a Christian, the Lord’s presence is a tangible thing. His comfort is real. Because He walked this earth in human form, He understands our feelings. As both man and God, He knew loneliness and rejection intimately.
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief . . .
Isaiah 53:3 (KJV)
As horrible as it was to be scorned by the people He came to save, it doesn’t compare to the greatest loneliness and rejection Jesus experienced when He became sin for us on the cross and was forsaken by God the Father.
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Matthew 27:46 (KJV)
No matter how lonely or rejected we may feel, the Lord understands; He’s been there. He is always here for us, a constant source of comfort, so we are never truly alone.