What is it about these restless, 2 AM and I'm still up, trying to wrestle Atlas for his tittle empty, desolate kind of nights? It seems no matter how hard we try, we can't shake 'em. Sleep just refuses to come our way once loneliness decides to set in. I know you know what I'm talking about because social media is often popping every night around this same time. It’s one of those you're up, down, tossing, turning, one more glass of water, fidgety, sleepless kind of nights that drain us. And between you and me, they're always the worst! Our mind runs away, haunting us until the sun comes up, then starts the repeat cycle all over again when the sun goes down. Unfortunately, loneliness is just one of those unavoidable emotions we all have to live through at some point or another. I'm certainly not a fan, nor am I an advocate but the hard knocks facts say, loneliness is part of the journey.
The songs says one is the loneliest number, but sometimes even though we are surrounded in a swarm of loved ones our minds tell us we’re absolutely alone, lonely, on our own playing a game of solitaire. Life lesson #38 at its core is about LONELINESS.
The reality is we've all been there. Loneliness can creep up on us with this feeling we're alone despite a crowded room full of people. Sometimes loneliness dropkicks us into the deep end of a pool without as much as a how do you do. Before we know it we're drowning and no one can see or hear us flailing around. Other times it's a complicated relationship gone sideways that leaves us feeling invisible and alone like we've faded away into nothingness. Loneliness at its worst can fill us with despair, telling us we're worthless, second-rate, useless, living a meaningless life. Worst of all, lying next to the one we love the most, there can be an ache so vast an ocean stands between us.
So yes, when loneliness decides to up and pay us a visit, it's usually at the worst, most unexpected, inconvenient time imaginable. There’s usually no warning either, just a sudden kick to the gut. Many times even if her visit is short we're left feeling exiled, packed up and shipped off to a deep, dark and emotional ravine, and a terrain we have no idea how to navigate. The definition of loneliness describes sadness, a depression and a place of remote isolation. Being lonely is exactly what one might expect, a frightening place, where we’re abandoned and lost inside ourselves. It's not exactly a five star resort with a waiting list or a place we check out of feeling refreshed or eager for a return trip anytime soon. The opposite is more the reality: tired, exhausted with a bad taste left in our mouths, wanting the world to just end already. Loneliness simply put is a remote place of isolation, quarantine and no one; I repeat no one is immune.
There's no other way to say it, loneliness sucks! There's no candy coating it, placing a cherry on top or arranging her cause and effect into a beautiful bouquet. Nope, loneliness is the ugly step sister we all dread and she's usually not interested in taking prisoners! As Christians many feel there is no place for sadness, loneliness or depression in our lives because Christ lives within us, and if you just take things at face value one might unreasonably come to this conclusion. But the thing is, we’re ALL human, not one of us is capable of perfection. We all have our areas of weakness, parts of us always in need of grace. If this wasn’t true the Word of God wouldn’t be so clear, insisting we are made strong or that His power works best in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
So what can we do once our ship has sailed into the great abyss, when darkness approaches and the shore line of loneliness is visibly in sight? Honestly, I don't know if anyone can actually prepare themselves for this kind of unwelcome Oceanside property. What I do know is loneliness many times has to be ridden out. We often can't avert the storm but we can adjust our sails with the hope of reaching shore in one piece anyway. I wouldn't say washing up and finding myself shipwrecked on Loneliness Island makes my top 10 list of places to visit, that's for sure, but I am aware one way or another life is going to re-route me and re-set my compass in her direction.
The reality of the situation is our lives, once they've entered into this depth of loneliness can overwhelm, overcome us with sorrow, despair and deep, painful heartache. Truthfully at this point it really doesn't even matter how we got there and who or what set our hearts on this course to begin with. Like it or not the reality is we're here, washed up, on the sand, broken and in pieces following a cold, harsh night adrift and sinking. I can tell you from experience, the one thing about loneliness is once she’s got a hold of you, you can't allow her to devour you though. I won’t lie and say I haven’t been in this pit before; in fact I'm grappling with loneliness in this very moment. I write not to appear as if I have it all together or all the answers, because I so do not! This blog, my journey through pen and paper serves as a process, a means to work out the life lessons I myself have and continue to live through, a way of sharing this journey we call life with you. Go ahead; brace yourself now, Katy bar the door because I’m not ashamed to actually admit I suffer from loneliness either. I think we hide our pain a lot of the time living in this place of hurt, alone, as many of us do because we’re the anchor, the glue, holding everyone else in our lives together, and if we fall apart the whole ship goes down with us. I have to say, this can be an unbearable burden, suffering in silence, hiding behind a smile while we’re completely coming undone inside.
At the end of the day what I know is this: loneliness is a thief, willing to steal not just your happiness, but your joy if we allow her too. She's a cold companion for sure convincing us we’re alone. While we wrestle with despair, we can't be so over taken we lose sight of who we really are in Christ. Happiness can be taken from us in a split second but joy has to remain a constant, permanent fixture. Loneliness is certainly not our friend, even if we have to barter with her for our own survival sometimes. She's one of the most destructive forces our hearts, minds and souls have to deal with. So, where do we go from here, what’s the plan, the strategy for getting off this demented and deranged island? I honestly don’t know, haven’t a clue, but what I do know is this: Isiah 43:2 says, “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.” I believe in the One Who not only gave me life, but rescued me from the brokenness of my soul. I may have been born into a world full of sorrow but Jesus Christ is the One who gave me a hope and a purpose despite my inadequacy.
So yes loneliness may come for me, she may try to convince me life isn’t worth living, pointing out all my inefficiencies, fiascoes, debacles, mega flops, washouts and serious malfunctioning hardware. BUT let me assure you of this fact, my life has been bought and paid for, and so have my shortcomings. I will absolutely continue to struggle, wrestle and even suffer at the hands of loneliness and her consorts on and off for the rest of my life. It’s a given but so is this truth: the joy of the Lord is my strength, He will never fail me; His joy will continue residing inside my heart despite whatever attempts unhappiness throws my way, gallivanting, sweeping or backpacking through this human life of mine. Just remember this when you feel painfully invisible, we never make any discoveries about ourselves without a little unreasonable, irrational thinking! Joy comes in the morning, so just hold on, be patient with yourself and trust the process; this too shall pass my friends, this too shall pass.