As a newlywed I naively thought that marriage would be the end of my loneliness. I quickly found out I was greatly mistaken. Despite having other married friends, I often found myself lonely especially since my husband worked a lot of evenings.
Now that I struggle with chronic pain and my husband continues to work a lot of evenings I still struggle with loneliness at times. Those evenings I am home alone with my 2 year old are when Satan most seems to tempt me to be anxious and despair. It's when I often get "that feeling" I blogged about recently.
After my husband and I were married 11 months, we moved to my hometown to be involved with ministry at the church my father pastors. My chronic pelvic pain began about 2 weeks before we moved and, as we later found out, at the time I got pregnant with our daughter. We know now that God, in His sovereign design preordained our timely move for reasons much greater than our own plans of doing ministry before journeying to the overseas mission field. God worked in my heart and my husband's heart to bring us to a town neither of us desired to live long-term. But now, we are so grateful for our Father's care in bringing us to live near my parents and large extended family. I cannot imagine dealing with this pain and a small child without their help.
But in moving, we "sacrificed" great friendships. It is just recently that we have been able to make closer friends since moving almost 3 years ago. It has been a time of loneliness, especially for an extrovert like myself. After living overseas and experiencing a very different way of life, we find ourselves in rural America learning to relate to people with different life experiences and goals than our own. It has been a good growing experience for us.
Now that I suffer with chronic pain that is invisible to the outside world, I have begun to experience a new type of loneliness. There is a special bond that I feel when I talk to others who have a chronic illness or have experienced great suffering, and I am thankful for those friendships I have made. But it is sometimes difficult for me to form close friendships now with people who have not (yet) experienced some kind of suffering. It's often hard for me to relate to "normal" life now and sometimes I become cynical, although that is not my heart's desire. This is an area of my life I need great grace both from others and from the Lord.
Can God really make a home for the lonely as Psalm 68:6 says? How? What about the single person who lives their whole life lonely, longing for a family? I was re-reading a little booklet my mom sent me when I lived overseas called How to Overcome Loneliness by Elisabeth Elliot, who is one of my favorite authors. In this booklet, Elliot talks about her friend who is single and asks if she is lonely. The friend says,
"Oh, no. You see, I have a sense of expectancy every day. What does the Lord want to do with me today? I have no agenda of my own." "What do you mean by agenda?" [Elisabeth asks]. The friend responds, "Thinking there's only one solution, and God has to give you that or nothing. You have a closed mind. A closed mind is a closed heart and a closed door."No agenda of my own.... Isn't that what we all struggle with, whether it be loneliness or any other unfulfilled desires. We want our life to be a certain way because we have a plan, an agenda. But God promises to make a home for the lonely! He is our home, and in Him our desires become His desires (Psalm 37:4). "No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly" Psalm 84:11.
I have looked to my husband, family, friends, TV, books, the Internet, exercising (pre-pain)...you name to find comfort in my loneliness, but how often do I look to God? He is the only one who can give us true comfort and peace. For those who trust in Christ as their Savior, God has made His home in us through the Holy Spirit! And there is no better home we can have.