by Sarah, my daughter---for all of those who exist, lonely......
Sometimes, you can’t know you’re lonely until you are loved.
The heart is a thrifty housewife. In her hand a scrap of fellowship becomes a meal. Her grit keeps the spirit in life with the bones of a smile and the salt of occasional kindness. When her own house is bare, she gathers beauty from the fields for bread. When winter comes, she brews a little hope from sunlight and sets it in the soul’s hand like wine. She may not even know her strength is gone until another heart enters her home and sets a feast, a real feast, before her. And when that happens, she may be too stunned, and starving, to eat it.
At least at first.
I am used to doing life alone. Don’t mistake me, I have my precious family. I have priceless friends, scattered though they are throughout the country. In swift, bright bursts of time, I have known fellowship and I am grateful for every bit of generous love I have ever received. But for most of my adult and daily life, I have hammered out my local days, grappled with writing, worshipped, and hoped toward a certain set of ideals, alone. I have known rejection, yes, but for the most part the loneliness has simply been that of striving after a life that doesn’t set me in the usual places for friendship. What I want and reach for with my minutes and hours takes me down an unfrequented road. My loneliness is my own doing and I get that. I chose it. I am used to explaining my life and not necessarily being understood. My dad, wise, beloved man that he is, once asked me if I knew that a certain idealistic decision would set me in a place of loneliness and could I live with that? I said yes, absolutely, yes. Because I’m with Rich Mullins. “It’s okay to be lonely as long as you’re free.”
The danger of that freedom is that it can become a forgetting. When you choose loneliness and try to love it you can forget that community, or worse, communion is possible. You can forget even to reach for it. I just looked up the word communion: “the sharing or exchange of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level.” I have just never known quite how to find communion where I live. I’m an introvert, I travel a lot, I hold extreme ideals – all good reasons why communion is hard to create. Life is, also, just lonely at times. I hate to feel weak, so I have met that lack with an uplifted chin. “I’m fine. I’ll read another book. I’ll take another walk.” I’ve done this for years. And though I have survived, a certain chill crept into my being. I found that I hoped less for friendship. I found that I began to suspect that who I was was just too much, to odd, for understanding. My heart spun life from scraps. And as the voices of others faded from my life, I found that my own voice rose to an uncomfortable pitch in my head.
Ever notice that the voice in your head isn’t generally an encouraging one?
When I stepped in the doors of Hutchmoot a few days back, my inner voice, left for long months to its own devices, was especially loud. I’ve been part of the Rabbit Room community for several years and have always met a genuine love that set me in life whenever I came to Hutchmoot. But the last year has been particularly lonely. I made yet another decision that was right, but goodness, it was hard. And though I knew that I would find acceptance at Hutchmoot, I entered in a defensive, quiet stance. I didn’t expect special attention. As I walked in the door, my mind kept up its Eeyore-like narrative. Don’t expect too much. Just do what you can. Make it through. And then my inner voice was interrupted.
And my self-conscious stance was broken by warm arms around me and hands that pulled me in the doors. Within minutes, I found myself talking so quickly that the Eeyore in my head wasn’t fast enough to to break in. At every corner I turned on my way in, a face I knew from the year before met me and there was such brightness looking out at me from each set of eyes I felt almost dazzled. “How are you?” the questions always began. And when I gave the usual polite little answer, I found that the questioner waited. Stayed. “How are you truly?” I found myself telling the truth. For the rest of this blog, go here!
My sweet friend, Courtney Joseph with me at a conference! What a heart for God!
What adjectives would you use to define your life? If my journal could give voice, it would tell the story of my life. My friend, who comes with me everywhere, helps me to figure out my life. Often, since I was a young married woman, about every 6 months, I access my life. How am I doing overall? What is a drain? Can I do anything about it? How am I doing in marriage? Motherhood? Spiritually? Emotionally? Ministry? Home?
Life is so busy and confusing, that if I don't constantly take account of the drainers, distractors, fillers, and details, I can spin out of control.
That is why I so appreciate reading books that help me evaluate my life in light of God's best for me, so that I can invest my life--not just exist through the days.
I met Courtney Joseph a few years ago at a blogging conference. Immediately I could see that she was very intentional about her walk with God. Just this month, she put some of her thoughts into a book that does just what I said--helps women evaluate how they are growing and living their lives. I wanted to share this with you today, too, because it is a great way to review some poignant thoughts and then to evaluate where you are investing your life and how to live your life well! She told me she is happy to give one of her books to you! Just leave a comment below if you would like to enter to win one of her books!
You can purchase this book at Barnes and Noble, here.