When I was a very small child, my father would read to me every evening after dinner. We had a ritual. He had a large book of Mother Goose rhymes. The book was covered in a soft, blue fabric, and was beautifully illustrated. While Mother was doing the dishes, he would take me on his knee and read each rhyme ~ stopping at each page and pointing out the details of the illustrations. Jack jumping over the candlestick, Daffy-down-dilly in her ruffled gown, lean Jack Spratt and his plump little wife ~ all became friends. Later his job changed and I didn’t see him except for a few hours on weekends, and I lost that feeling of protection and security. The sense of love and the protection of my father’s arms around me and making sure I was safely seated on his knee gave me a sense of perfect security I have never felt since in any of my human relationships.
For whatever reasons, God has chosen to let me live a very solitary life. No need here to go into details; just believe that most of my life, whether living in a family or not, I have felt isolated and alone. I felt abandoned emotionally during my childhood. I felt alone in my marriage, except for my children, and when they went off to college I was divorced and alone again. For the past forty-odd years I have lived completely alone. My children are scattered all over the country and I see them, in person and if I am lucky, only for a couple of days at Christmas time each year. For the most part, I am all right with this. I know my children love me; we communicate via email and FaceTime and I am used to it. To tell the truth, now when I am with more than two or three people, I feel uncomfortable. I have forgotten how to communicate verbally and stumble all over myself trying to get out simple sentences. I am likely just to shut down and listen rather than try to be a part of a group. I am much better on my keyboard. I guess that is called extreme introversion. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t get lonely sometimes.
I can be alone for long periods of time, but every now and then I need to be with people and communicate and remind myself that I am still a part of the human race. I am like a toddler with his mommy. I can go off and play alone, but every now and then I need to come back to make sure mommy is still there. I use writing as a compromise. I reveal myself through my writing, but I avoid being uncomfortable with another human presence who may misunderstand me or misinterpret what I have to say. If people don’t understand my writing, I don’t have to look into their eyes and try to explain. Is this a coward’s way out? Perhaps.
Normally when I go through difficult times of one kind or another, as we all do, I lean on the Lord and take it one day at a time, and eventually come out the other side safe and hopefully having learned something. Yet there are times when the loneliness and the sense of isolation become overwhelming. The emotional weight of the solitary life can be very heavy.
The solitary life is one where there is no other human on whom to lean. There are emotional loads, and there are physical ones. Is there a problem? We have to figure out the solution on our own and execute it to the best of our ability. There are no other eyes to look at a problem and offer a possible solution. There is no other someone to suggest an easier way or help carry the load, whatever that load may be. Now at my age and with my physical limitations, I sometimes have to conscript occasional visitors to help me carry something heavy up the stairs, or haul something out to the driveway for trash pickup. Items may sit in my front hall for weeks before someone comes along whom I feel I can ask to carry them upstairs. I have learned patience, but sometimes the sense of isolation becomes overwhelming. I begin to feel sorry for myself, and so I go to the Lord and plead my case. Usually, scripture begins to flow through my mind, and I am comforted and reminded of all my many blessings, and I can come out of my funk. Usually ~ not always.
If all else fails, I can pull up from my memory one incident when I was completely emotionally drained. I could not seem to talk myself out of the miasma of exhaustion and fear and sense of despair. I let the tears flow, and when I had cried myself out, I leaned back in my chair and closed my eyes. I was as close to bottom as I had ever been. Then I began to feel a sense of warmth and love. As I sat there, it was as if I was being held firmly but gently by a pair of arms that surrounded me and comforted me. I felt the same security that I had felt in my human father’s arms when I was three, but this time there was a sense of a love that almost carried a physical light with it. I have never felt so loved and secure before or since. I knew that the Father was letting me know that He felt my fear and exhaustion. He was reminding me that no matter what my human situation, there is a Love that transcends everything, and that it is available to me through Jesus Christ. I was able to let go of my fear and relax into the care of a Heavenly Father Who knows my every need, and Who communicates with me through faith and the certainty of all He has promised in His Word and in the person of Christ.
“He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” ( Psalm 91:4)
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8: 38, 39)