We all know this. Yet so many of us are. We go to work and sit in our lonely bubble and go home to our lonely world. We sleep in our lonely bed and eat breakfast at our lonely table and drive to work in our lonely car.
We get pets to make us feel less lonely. After all, they are so much less complicated than humans. Humans are…high maintenance.
And even if you are surrounded by a bunch of humans (sometimes you’re always surrounded by them – in fact, you deeply desire for two minutes – no, forty seconds – of being unsurrounded by them so you can brush your teeth and go to the bathroom. Maybe at the same time. All right, too much info, but another story for another day), you may still be the loneliest creature on the planet.
But you don’t have to be.
When I was in the Army as a young, naïve, nineteen-year-old chick, I was so incredibly lonely. It was painful. My family was happily partying in Seattle while I was miserable and crying in Augusta, Georgia. I had no man (yet,) no kids, no prospect of kids, no roommate, no dog, cat, gerbil, ferret, or pet rock, and my friends…well, they were off with their significant others. (Yes I couldn’t find a man. Not to save my life. Sheesh.) For someone who needs people, this was excruciating.
Then I met Clara. She was awesome. She was about 120 and had this Southern drawl that was amazing. She felt sorry for me and invited me to her trailer for dinner one weekend.
She could barely walk. Yet she made me the best food I had eaten in about a year. As I helped her cook, she would holler at me (not really) that I had no idea what I was doing in the kitchen (I didn’t) and swat me away.
She was the most joy-filled old person I knew. We’d make jokes and she’d laugh so loud I could see where her teeth were supposed to be. Her hair fell off once (I was mortified. That’s not real hair? Is this what old age is going to be like?), and she would randomly fall asleep.
But she was full of love. She would give me chocolate treats and let me cry as I told her about stuff. She would pat my hand with her arthritic snarls and smile gently as she lovingly told me I would be okay.
That’s not what I remember most about her, though.
No, what I remember most is that she always talked to God. Not in the holy, formal way you’re supposed to. No, she talked to Him like she knew Him. Because she did.
After we had cooked and eaten, I went to bed. She went outside and smoked. I heard her talking to the Lord as she did often. Her conversation went like this:
“I know I’m not supposed to be doing this, but I’m about to die anyway. Let me have my cigarettes.”
Pause. I assume God answered.
“Well geez! Is there anything I can do, Lord?? I mean, Lordhavemercy, what in the world…”
Another pause. This time longer.
“Uh-uh. No way. I mean c’mon, I’m tired, I just fixed this youngin’ dinner and I didn’t get no help. No, she just watched me while I struggled. Lord, please, I promised this’ll be the last.” I think I heard the beginning of tears.
Another long pause.
“Well if you want me to keep giving, I’m gonna need something in return. Oh yes, Lord, that’s right! Yes, Lord, I needs something because I’m just an old woman!” She was building up.
“No, you can’t expect me to keep doing all this and that with these youngins and not let me have some kinda fun of my own!!” By this point, she was hysterical. The trailer park was small. I think she woke everyone.
Next, I heard a sigh. Then another. She shuffled her feet. Five minutes passed. Slowly, reluctantly, a cigarette crunch as she put it out. Another five minutes passed. Then, she pulled out another cigarette. Shaking her head, she put it back. Finally, she drew up her breath.
“Lord, these cigarettes cost me four whole dollars. Four dollars, Lord. If you keep making me put ‘em out, that’s four whole dollars gone. I don’t ask for much. You made me stop drinking. I can’t gamble. I can’t eat anything at all anymore because it’s all bad, and soda is too expensive. But Lordhavemercy, can’t I at least have my doggone cigarettes?” she pleaded.
She huffed and puffed and pouted and then I heard the trailer door slam as she came inside. I pretended to sleep. She scared me.
I never did learn if she solved her smoking dilemma. But I learned something valuable that night: she had a real relationship with a real God.
You can, too. You see, that’s what God wants and that is what we need. He has called us His friend (John 15:15). He would rather we know Him than be all stuffy around Him (Luke 18:9-14, Matthew 11:28). Yes, reverence is needed. He is God, after all. But can’t He be our Friend as well as our Lord (Hebrews 4:15)?
You have a Best Friend in Jesus Christ. There is no one – and I mean no one – who has your best interest at heart more than He. Talk to Him in your car. As you’re folding the millionth load of laundry. Cooking and cleaning. Working (you may have to do it silently otherwise people will think you’re crazy. If you don’t care, well…that makes it easier), or walking the dog. Just talk. Tell Him everything.
And guess what? He can handle you. Your bad habits, the way you look at that person in a way your spouse wouldn’t approve, your near drug overdose – He knows about all that, anyway. Wouldn’t you rather struggle with Him instead of without?
My dear friend, you may be lonely a long time. If you’re woman, statistically speaking, there’s a good chance you’ll spend a large part of your life by yourself. And even if you’re not a woman, loneliness visits us all at some point. But it’s an unnecessary struggle.
Because He can fill any void, any crack, any hole with His presence…alone.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)