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.