On Sunday morning at 4:22am, my wife and sons left for a month vacation. I’ll join her after three weeks and take a week of my vacation, but for three weeks, I’m alone.
After she left, my Sunday looked like this:
Watched YouTube and Netflix and Facebook.
Slept a little
Went to church
Moved some bricks (patio work).
Ate lunch [Pizza, followed by rum & coke]
Organized our storage room
Read some articles online
Cleaned up around the house
Worked in the patio
Went to bed
Sometime, late in the night, I realized that all my actions of the day (including going to church) were motivated by a desire to distract myself from loneliness and I thought, “Maybe it’s time to write that blog.”
In my notes, for future blog posts, I had the following idea written down:
I’m always lonely… it’s more bearable with my wife close by.
I believe loneliness is part of the human condition. I believer we all have loneliness within our souls, regardless of our current circumstances. Though I had not yet elaborated on the idea, I had made the note to write about this concept.
And on Sunday I felt my loneliness. It was weighing a little heavier upon me.
With my family gone, the loneliness was that much less bearable.
While loneliness was managed and satisfied it didn’t seem an urgent topic for a blog. My experience Sunday compelled me to write.
Humans experience loneliness because we are finite created beings, separated from the Creator. We are designed for perfect relationship and, since The Fall, we are only capable of imperfect relationship. Long ago, I heard Rich Mullins eloquently explain it this way:
“Friendship is not a remedy for loneliness. Loneliness is part of our experience, and if we are looking for relief from loneliness in friendship, we are only going to frustrate the friendship. Friendship, camaraderie, intimacy, all those things, and loneliness lived together in the same experience.”
As I said, I believe humans feel lonely because we were meant for relationship.
And I believe we feel lonely within relationship, even a healthy family relationship, because we were meant for intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father.
We can open to the loneliness and draw closer to those around us, to our family, our friends. We can cultivate deep honest relationships; share our hopes and dreams and fears.
We can open, through prayer and meditation, to the lover of our soul, the God who is present. We can seek intimacy with Him.
Or we can fill our time with busyness and distractions. We can allow our days to resemble my Sunday schedule, mindlessly numbing ourselves to the loneliness.
Anything, even productivity can be a distraction for the soul. Even church can be used to fill time and space, to avoid encountering the lonely self… to avoid encountering God.
So now I’ve realized this, and contemplated it for two days, and wrote about it, and posted it online, and shared it, but the question still remains:
Over the next three weeks, what will I do with the loneliness?
Will I continue to fill it with busy work and frivolous distractions?
Will I ignore the cries of my own soul?
Or will I allow myself to feel?
Will I meditate on the absence of my wife and sons and thus grow in my affection for them?
Will I ask the Spirit of the Living God to draw closer to me in the loneliness?
Will I realize I need Him more than I had known?
I hope so….
That’s what the lonely is for.