it was run-of-the-mill loneliness. Nothing that other people don’t experience now and then, I guess. What do I know? I can’t feel other people’s feelings.
Either way, it was real, weighty, and it was mine to feel. No one else could feel it or take it or fix it. Where should I heave the weight of it?
My friend’s confused response made sense when I thought back about what I had said: “I feel lonely. I need some alone time.”
As I sat there slumping, thinking about what I needed, feeling the ache of aloneness, I tried to pull myself out of it. I took mental stock of the wonderful people in my life. I also reminded myself that this too would pass. But the loneliness was there, despite the true reminders of all the good in my life. And I had to decide what to do.
I wanted to cut the loneliness and ease the ache. But I knew that the people I could bring around me would only mask the ache for a time.
It’s not that I don’t need people in my life. I do (we all do). Sometimes we need someone to shake us out of a slump and get us out of the house. Sometimes the best thing we can do is awkwardly call on someone to enter into our pain with us rather than sit alone in our spiraling darkness. But this wasn’t the time for that and somehow I knew it.
My loneliness was no sickness that needed to be cured. I just needed to sit alone in the school of loneliness, even if it was uncomfortable or sad.
In his new book, Andrew Peterson talks being alone and meeting God: “The loneliness of the dark field was a prerequisite for the company I felt.”
The aloneness ushered in the company of Christ, our brother and King.
Elizabeth Elliot, no stranger to loss and loneliness said, “Loneliness is a wilderness, but through receiving it as a gift, accepting it from the hand of God, and offering it back to Him with thanksgiving, it may become a pathway to holiness, to glory and to God himself.”
I will not mope and moan, stunting my growth, but I won’t hastily look for a quick fix for loneliness. I won’t let it conquer me, nor will I run from it.
So, for that evening, I sat alone in the loneliness of my own dark field and sought Divine company — to which I have astounding access through Christ! — or no company at all.