As a single woman one of the hardest things I face is constant loneliness. The hardest part isn't being ripped off by mechanics, paying bills alone, social stigma, or frozen dinners. It's loneliness. And it's wondering how much of my future will be filled with it. It's feeling a part of a family for a night and then going home alone. I used to not struggle with loneliness, or at least, I was really good at dealing with it when it came, but that 30 mark kicked up the potency of the loneliness ache about 100 fold. Friends try to counsel me telling me the solution is to spend more time with other people. They are all very well intentioned, but the fact is that the loneliness isn't met by spending time with equally disconnected people. It is a longing for a family. Not brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles, but a place where we belong, together, all the time, day or night, no matter what is going on around us. We are always welcome home. No one but a real family can provide that. So... since I do not have that, what do I do? Trying to rely on others to fill that void usually eventually leaves me disappointed and writing bitter blogs at 4am (that I subsequently delete the next day :o).
Well, I don't have much of an answer, but this morning at 4am after writing my bitter blog, I eventually let God in on the conversation and decided to give him a say. I was reading John 16 where Jesus is talking to his disciples about what is going to happen to him. The disciples are asking each other questions and wondering what Jesus means. Jesus hears their thoughts and answers their questions. After three years of seeing Jesus' miracles, the disciples suddenly proclaim belief in his divinity because he could read their thoughts. Raising the dead wasn't enough I guess! Jesus then says, “Do you now believe? A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me." (31-32) For the first time I realized at a heart level that Jesus was single too. He knew the pain of how, when push comes to shove, everyone scatters to their own home, and we are left "all alone." That picture is still vivid in my mind: Jesus standing alone after everyone has gone home. Not only was he alone, but he was abandoned in his greatest pain. No one else could share that pain. There was no one to comfort him. He had to bear it alone. That sucks!!! But he didn't stop there. He immediately followed that statement by saying that he was not alone because "my Father is with me." It was that simple. You will leave me all alone, but I am not alone because my Father is with me. There was no pleading and begging for them to stay, chastisement that they weren't providing for his emotional needs, that they weren't being faithful, that he needed them. His Father was with him. His circumstances didn't change. Physically he was still alone, and there was no human comfort or love at that moment. He simply held the mutual realities together: he was all alone, but he was not alone. And that is what I have to hold too. Yes, there are times when I am all alone, but I am not alone because my Father is with me.
The Father's presence made the difference between dispair and hope for Jesus, and that allowed him to love unselfishly, living not only for his own good but for the good of others. So this is our homework, all you single people out there: to memorize this verse, and everytime loneliness comes, to let the truth soak into our hearts that even when everyone has gone to their own homes and left us all alone, we are not alone because our Father IS with us. Then go to him.