When the first song began, I knew there would be tears. . .
Tom and I are finding that this step of the journey often leads through uncertain dark valleys with adult children and grandchildren. We are walking that path these days. We were in church of all places. One should find comfort and peace.
“Lord, I need you, oh, I need you. Every hour I need you. . .”
For a moment, I felt alone. All alone. Oh, there are people around me, and Tom is surely right beside me, squeezing my hand gently. . . winking as I work to prevent mascara’s painting with my tissue. He knows the heartache. But I feel a bit alone.
“Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart” (Matt Maher)
We know no one of those sitting near us. No one knows our name; they have no idea who we are–our hopes, our dreams, our losses, or our pain in this moment. Neither do I know them or their pain.
“If we are to love our neighbors,” says Frederick Buechner, “before doing anything else we must see our neighbors. With our imagination as well as with our eyes, that is to say like artists, we must see not just their faces, but the life behind and within their faces.” In other words, we must know them.
This week marks a year since our retirement. I am missing the routine of Sundays, the company of Sundays, the sounds of Sunday. . .the activity of Sundays.
It has been difficult for us to find a place to become involved with people. Due in part to Tom’s health, but more because this is a new phase of our lives, and we don’t quite know how. We’ve never been “here” before.
I have heard people say, “I am never alone, but I am lonely sometimes.” That thought is voiced by Christians, and they say that because, yes, Jesus has promised to be with us always and to never leave us. Truly we are not alone. I understand that, but this is a new thought for me. Maybe it’s semantics, and I am rarely lonely—but I, Tom and I– are alone in this stage of life. And I use the word alone to mean solitary or friendless.
Almost half of older adults who have retired and relocated to a new address in the past year are lonely. So we are not alone! Make new friends” should be high on a to-do list of retirees. Surprisingly, the largest group of lonely people is younger adults. It is suggested that social media is isolating all of us. Too much roaming on Facebook can make one miserable–if not, it can make one envious at the ‘perfect’ lives masqueraded daily by all our friends.
When I was faced with the sense of “aloneness” that Sunday, I could relate to those who experience loneliness on a daily basis. I wonder that others reach out to them. Is there a way to minister to those who suffer this common malady.
How often have I neglected “seeing” the hurts and pain of those sitting near me in church. Am I attentive to their tears. Maybe I should be more talkative to those I pass in the grocery aisles. (My grandchildren are embarrassed at times- “Gram, you talk to EVERYBODY!!”) Standing in a bank line. . . wherever lonely people are. This time in our lives is teaching me how to see others. We must be aware of the loneliness around us—even when we are secure in our dependence on our Father.
“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. . .” Psalm 62:1
“Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You” (Matt Maher)
I encourage you to be aware of lonely, alone and loneliness this week in those you see.
(For me, writing usually results from excessive reading. The last few months I am doing excessive weeding. . .)