What's your experience with loneliness? Do you feel it a lot? How do you cope with it when you do? Are you married and lonely? Or single and thinking marriage will be the panacea to your loneliness? Do you surround yourself with friends or pets or children? Do you try to connect a lot with others or God?
I have been lonely or felt isolated regularly in life. I've felt it a lot this week. In a discussion with a friend about this she said to me I think that loneliness is part of the human condition. And I thought: she's brilliant, of course it is. We are isolated or alone in our hearts and minds and experiences because we are the only one experiencing exactly that at that moment. I am the only one I know currently divorcing someone like my ex. My friend is the only one I know who feels this holy discontent because she's living somewhere that's miserable and feels like she might be called to be doing something bigger, but can't figure out how to put that into action. Another friend is the only one I know with five kids, running a successful business, homeschooling and has to stay up until 1 or 2 in the morning regularly to get things done. Another friend woke up to the reality that her two year old has a tumor this week and has no idea what that means yet. Then there are the myriad of other friends who just hate their job, are working hard to make ends meet with no success, can't find the answers they want from God, can't find a friend or just got dumped.
This is not to say that everyone's life sucks because there is much to find pleasure in. But if we don't actually talk about how we are feeling our hearts get stuck on repeat and it's difficult to move on and grow. We need to face our loneliness or isolation and figure out what it's about. Because even if our network of friends and family isn't experiencing our exact circumstance right now they can still be here for us. And God is still here for us.
I have felt this. I have sat with my friend Karen or Naomi and vented and talked and cried and they have done the same. We've eaten chocolate and bitched about men and life and money and children being difficult. But when they leave there it is again.... loneliness. And as my friend Deb pointed out, I think this part of us is here to stay.
There is a purpose to our feeling this way. And the purpose is to push us back to God. Because He is the one who is ever communing with us. He will be there when we've woken up for the 5th time last night. And for that moment right after your friends walk out the door. And for me, I feel like God understands no matter what I'm going through. He meets me inside of my soul and there are no obstacles that I have not created for him having a complete understanding of my pain, or confusion or doubt. He can never not understand what it's like to be poor, attacked by a worthy adversary or stay up all hours of the night doing what needs to be done. And even if Jesus didn't have my exact experience while walking around on this planet; God is still our creator and so he understands us because he made us.
He wants to meet us in our pain. He also wants to meet us in our pleasure. He did after all create the most pleasurable experiences we can have on this planet. We should not be afraid of these moments on both sides of the mountain. They both have a purpose in our life.
If I can get outside of myself long enough to think, I know exactly what can happen. I can center my spirit, my breath, my being on God and I will feel Him meet me there. There will be comfort and communion and peace. This practice is more like meditation for me and less like traditional prayer. I'm not speaking many or any words; it is a purifying of focus. I have learned how to do that through my study of yoga: how to meditate and center. Sometimes laying down and feeling the floor has given me an awareness of what is going on internally for me. Then I can play the internal filing cabinet game: this goes here, this goes here, I need to do deal with this now (rarely the case) or this just needs to be thrown out (happens a lot).
After I've become present and accepted the mess of files lying on the floor, I can enjoy the feeling of the floor, the coolness of my breath and the warmth of God within my soul. But as long as I'm hyper-focused on the feelings and the doings of life I forget about my being. There's a lot for me to do in life. There's a lot of responsibilities that I have. And when I get stuck in these cycles of rinse, wash, dry, repeat, I get lonely. I get overwhelmed and I forget. I forget that I am a human BEING. God has called me to do one thing on this earth and that is to love. Loving is part and particle of being. The more I produce the less I am. My soul shrinks as my productivity increases. And I get lonely, but I am lonely for me. I have stopped communing with myself.
Note to all of us: enjoy your own company. I like myself. I like what I have learned about who I am. I like that I'm a walking paradox, who loves Jesus, swears like a sailor and can sew a quilt. If you're feeling lonely I challenge you to get to know yourself better. Maybe the panacea for that ache is right in the middle of your heart, where God and you can commune together. Communion isn't some funky Christian word that means bread, blood, wine and bones. It's about being present. Being present with God and with each other. Sharing a meal and a life. I encourage you to make sure you are living yours. Living and not just surviving.