In talking to a few friends and family members this week about the different ways they currently find themselves “alone” in life, I started wondering if it’s the season of loneliness or if we all feel this way at times.
What does it really feel like to be alone?
Growing up, I didn’t spend a lot of time alone, although I often wished I could. Among other less desirable lessons, I was taught that being alone and being content didn’t go hand-in-hand. Thank goodness I got over that.
Now that I’m an adult, I spend a lot of time alone, which is ironic given my family size. The kids are all in school, and to be honest, sometimes the quiet is quite lovely. Granted, my “alone” time is largely spent working, doing homework and housework, and generally trying to get and stay organized (I’m still working on the “getting” part of this one).
But that isn’t the kind of alone I’m talking about.
I’m talking about feeling lost and not having a friend to take my hand and guide me.
I’m talking about feeling sad, or frustrated, or hurt, and not having an EMPATHETIC shoulder to cry on.
I’m talking about being surrounded by people and noise, but not having anyone who is actually TUNED IN to me.
I know this may be a lot to ask for as a wife and mother, as it is my job to “set the tone” and tempo for my family. Well, that’s just a lot of pressure — and a complete load of crap. While I take great pride in the leadership role I play in my family, and I know I have the ability to change the mood of any given situation, SO DOES EVERY OTHER PERSON I LIVE WITH.
Ok, so some of them are kids, and I get it – they’re moody at times and have many years of maturing ahead of them. Sometimes they want to hug and squeeze me and never let me go, as Mar recently told me, “Momma, I can’t be without you for even one day. Not one whole day!” That obviously melted my heart and gave me ALL THE FEELS and ALL THE TEARS. Other times they don’t even acknowledge my presence, like every day when they walk in the front door from school, drop their backpacks, kick off their shoes RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE HALLWAY, and without so much as a “Hello,” flit off to do anything other than homework, snack, or put their FOLDED laundry away. Psshh. If I ever dismissed them that way, they would burst into tears immediately at the betrayal.
“Hey, kids, that’s kind of a double standard, don’t you think?” [Crickets.]
Don’t get me wrong. I know that it is my role to be the steady hand (I’m giggling at that as I type), the constant calm (laughing out loud now), and the patient presence (on the floor belly laughing) for all of my family to rely on, and most of the time, I am. But I’m only human.
And before all of the mommy judgment begins, let me clarify: I do not rely on my children to provide moral and emotional support. I’m not an idiot. They aren’t ready for and shouldn’t have to deal with the heavy responsibilities and subject matter that adults have to. They are young and innocent and as a parent, it’s my job to preserve that innocence by filtering through what actually happens in the world and what they need to know. They will have plenty of time to worry about the woes of the world, so for now, they should be allowed to just be kids.
That said, everyone – even mamas – should have a “person.” If you’ve ever watched Grey’s Anatomy, you know who your “person” is. Your person is the one you can go to when you need advice about life’s challenges, no matter how ugly or uncomfortable, and expect the guidance to be just as brutally honest. Your person shows only kindness and empathy rather than cruelty and judgment. Your person just “gets” you and “gets” your predicament, no matter how silly or petty, because hey, sometimes it is silly and petty. But your person understands, because, well, they’re your person.
I have great friends, and even a person or two, but they have lives and their own little buggers who are busy ignoring them, too. I’m not too prideful to admit I do need a guide and some objective eyes on situations from time to time. We all do, probably more than any of us are willing to admit. But who wants to unload all of the irrational crazy swirling in our heads onto our friends?
So who is your person?
Earlier this week, when I was having an extended lonely moment, I visited my favorite devotional, “Jesus Calling,” by Sarah Young. Now I’m not going to get all preachy on you, but the content on those pages almost always provides the pep talk I need. It’s like opening a spot-on fortune cookie EVERY DAY.
“You are feeling wobbly this morning, looking at difficult times looming ahead, measuring them against your own strength.”
HOW DOES SHE KNOW THAT???
“However, they are not today’s tasks – or even tomorrow’s. So leave them in the future and come home to the present, where you will find Me waiting for you.” (To be clear, “Me” is God, not Sarah.)
I literally need to reread this about every 30 minutes to stay on track. How quickly I forget and start to wobble again, worrying about things that haven’t even happened yet. Good grief!
When my children were small, one of my favorite books to read them was “Smile-A-Saurus, A Book About Feelings.” There were some great characters in there: Angry-saurus, Cry-ceratops, Terror-Dactyl, and Glee-Rex. Pretty cute, huh? But the one I identified with most was Fretful-saurus. I’m pretty sure she and I were separated at birth.
“Fretful-saurus would worry and fret over things that had not happened yet. She would chew on her nails and tie knots in her tail. But what caused it, she’d always forget.”
The good news, which I also frequently forget, is we all have someone who will ALWAYS meet us where we are and show grace and love like no other. All we have to do is ask. Most days, I shove that reasoning aside and tell myself I can handle it on my own.
What. Ever. I can’t handle it on my own. And I don’t have to.
That morning, when I was feeling alone in the midst of my chaotic life, I called upon Him to meet me, and this is where we met:
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life… And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”
This is SO logical. If worrying actually added hours to my life, I’d live to be 248 years old.
“The Lord is my strength and my song…”
I know this. I just need to practice it. A lot.
“When I am afraid, I will trust in you.”
Ask today. Ask every day. And let me ask you again, who is your person?