To All the Lonely
Ever I walked into the house Friday night around 7:30pm and I had a most unusual feeling: I wasn’t glad to be there. Normally I can’t wait to get home and walking in the door is a like a welcoming hug. But Friday night our house was dark and lifeless. The kids were gone, either married or away at school, and Kristin was at the Women’s Retreat. I had the whole house to myself! But it felt hollow.
I noticed flying solo changed things I normally do. I had no interest in barbecuing since it would just be for myself. In fact, a cereal bowl and a coffee cup were pretty much the only dishes I used. The house was already clean so there wasn’t much work to be done, but I wasn’t even motivated to do the little there was. I mean, why put the popcorn popper away? I’ll probably just use it again for tomorrow’s supper.
There were a few perks. I watched a movie I knew Kristin would have no interest in and I turned the volume up so the windows rattled with the explosions. I enjoyed some take out for dinner and added a little extra butter on my popcorn. I also indulged my personal preference for leaving the living room blinds open. I always feel it makes a house more inviting, but I think I was also seeking to dissipate the solitude. Perhaps some passerby may see in and feel some sense of human kinship.
Another benefit was that I was happy to leave the house and head for church Saturday evening. As I drove through the pouring rain I was musing over how sharply I felt a couple days in an empty house. Suddenly faces crowded my mind; faces of so many for whom loneliness is their normal daily experience. The widow whose husband died more than a decade ago but whose ache has not grown less. The single who is no longer middle aged but unwilling to accept they may never marry. The divorcee whose lost companionship is an ugly scar. The millennial with 450 Facebook friends but no one to actually talk to. The bed-bound who waits for a visitor like kids wait for Christmas.
Loneliness wears many faces and I often do not notice. My heart for them was more tender last weekend, more eager to find the Savior together, more sincere in our worship of Yahweh. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.(Psalm 68:5–6)