I wrestled my way free from loneliness over and over again.
It was a clawing kind of fight. My desperation not to feel alone that stuffed and filled the empty folds of life with people and activities and important things because the space of the cavern meant pain and stretching ache. The kind that needs to be avoided at all costs because, really, there’s no telling what lies inside.
I remember him telling me once that believing he was the only one and that no one could understand his loss brought him deep and far into the place of isolation and that he knew he would slowly wither up there. He had to hurt in those secret places, but also tell his truth aloud, knowing that though the particulars were different, the heart of pain and loss was same.
My baby was six months old and my delight and my exhaustion, and the mantle of lonely despair would not leave me be. I couldn’t busy myself through it or perform my way out of it. And God asked me to trust in his care enough to sit in the pain, and I thought I might be swallowed whole.
I do not forget those long days of birthing babies and the moment when I understood in my own body what it was to be forsaken. Somewhere far away, I knew I was not abandoned, really, and he was there and she was there, and God still moved in the secret place. They stroked my head and looked with tenderness into my eyes, but it was as if I could not really see them. It was me. Alone. And I had to push, pain and suffer to birth this baby, and the unknown afraid stretched without an end.
This week, I’ve been writing a piece for a magazine which I admire and which I’ve long wanted to be part, and this has been a birthing. The words I thought I would write did not come, things did not go as I thought they would go. I wanted to give up. I could not perform my way through or out of it.
I felt alone, yet I knew I needed to walk through this valley, breathing deeply and feeling naked without my vocabulary and control. I showed up in mornings and snatches of afternoon with empty hands that held the teeniest mustard seed and had no idea what to write and whispered, I believe, help me in my unbelief.
It is an inescapable part of the human condition, this loneliness, and we have a God who never abandons or forsakes and invites us to bring our empty and our not enough, and no children nor spouse nor friend can take away the feelings that we are alone.
So we reach up. And we reach out, and we say this is me. And I struggle, and this hurts, and we are going to be okay.
We are alone. Yet if we all are, then maybe it’s also true that we are not.
I’m loving joining up again with the Five Minute Friday community at Lisa-Jo’s. It’s been a little while. Might you like to come write with us? ALL are welcome.
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It can be so hard to pull yourself out of that feeling of despair and abandonment. Great honesty….hugs to you!
Thank you, Casey. It is hard. This living thing just is, isn’t it? Happy to have “met” you today.
I love your words about sitting the pain out, because there is no other ways out of pain and loneliness than through it, as God leads us on to healing and freedom. There s just no detour for this journey.
Los of love XX
Yes, isn’t that true? There really is no other way OUT of pain and loneliness, is there? We try to find detours and short cuts, as you say, but they only dull the ache for a little while, and then we’re back, trying to find our way to healing again. Thank you for your wisdom, friend.
Oh sweet Ashley.. this is beautiful! Aching and honest and pure… and always ALWAYS -your words bless me…. I trust that whatever HE had in mind for you to write… it will come together and He will shine through it… as He always does here, through your words.
Love you friend!
Karrilee, thank you so much for your words. What an encourager you are. God was incredibly faithful to me through that writing process, and it’s now out of my hands, and I feel thankful and relieved and touched by grace to have been able to write it. You bless with the pure sweetness of who you are. Love you, Karrilee!
Truly beautiful, Ashley. The third line–“stuffed and filled the empty folds of life”–is my food for thought tonight. That’s exactly what we do, isn’t it? Thankful for the insight I received from stopping by your FMF. Glad you are writing FMF again!
Thank you so much for your visit and kind words, Elizabeth. Grateful that you had a moment of resonance…yes, indeed. I still struggle not to “stuff” the empty. Praying for both of us that we can more often sit in the silent places, knowing we are held in the places of lonely.
I nodding right along with you Ashley.
The loneliness. Your words that “loneliness is part of the human condition”, and the words that ” it brought him deep and far into the place of isolation and that he knew he would slowly wither up there” really unraveled the truth to me that, that is exactly the lie of the enemy that sounds again, again in our lonely, despondent ear..that we are strangely and singularly alone in our circumstances and in our emotions.
After a especially trying and dark week, your words are some of the sweet words of validation that He keeps pouring on me. I’ll be praying for you and your magazine article…you know if its a struggle its important!
I was thinking about that very thing as I wrote, Leah. Yes, the lie that we are “strangely and singularly alone” is an all-too-familiar tool to separate and alienate us, not only from our community, but from God himself. I’ve been praying for you — that you would experience moments of grace and tender validation that you are loved and seen and not truly alone. Bless you, friend.
Ashley this was an achingly beautiful piece. As a mom, naturally it hurts so much to hear of our child’s loneliness. We each fall short in our attempts (or wishes or prayers) to make it all better. And yet, as you point out, we All go through such times, when no other human seems able to address our sense of isolation and pain. It is an inescapable truth that aloneness is part of the human experience. But your conclusion is so apt! “…if we ALL are, then maybe it’s also true that we are not.” ! :) thank you dear girl.
Thank you, Mama, for all your love. So sad, and I’m just beginning to really grasp this: that though we stand with and deeply love in every way our children — they will endure places of suffering and isolation from which we (and no other person) can provide rescue. It is my prayer that this very place would be the one in which they know the God who loves and sees and understands and holds.