I’m pretty chatty. I’ll talk to just about anyone. I’ve gotten into long, laughing-like-we’ve-known-each-other-for-years conversations with receptionists, grocery store checkers, baristas, and just about everyone in between. It’s not uncommon for me to come home with a ridiculous story about a stranger who I suddenly struck up a conversation with and how we laughed over some shared experience or observation like we were old pals.
On the other hand…
I’ve been extremely lonely. In the last few years, I’ve moved across county and state lines, starting from scratch in new communities 3 separate times. I’ve also become a mother, leaving behind the ease and camaraderie one finds in the workplace for a solitary life at home with my little one.
Even though I can easily strike up open & friendly banter, I’ve known long seasons of desperate, unnoticed loneliness. When my husband was traveling constantly for work. When my oldest friends drifted our separate ways. When I spent more time with Netflix and Hulu then any actual, living person.
I’m about to enter another one of those seasons. The life of mama with a new baby. The first few weeks and months of motherhood where you barely take a shower, let alone make a meaningful connection with an adult. Sure, there are visitors stopping by and meals being dropped off, but once the initial flurry and excitement stops, your spouse returns to work and you are left behind, alone, babe in arms, feeling a bit abandoned and forgotten in your daily, solitary struggle to adjust.
I came across a concept recently. The idea that loneliness can be powerful. I’ve experienced it myself.
Loneliness can be extremely motivating. It can exterminate fear, pride, and embarrassment, as we search for community.
When I moved to Los Angeles, my loneliness motivated great openness with a coworker. One day over lunch, I spilled my guts. Fearlessly I went out on that limb, baring my soul. The result: I found one of the best friends I have ever and will ever have.
When I visited Illinois, anticipating our move across the country, I saw two women praying in a café. I left my embarrassment behind with my latte and walked across the room to introduce myself. I explained I was new in town, a Christian, and asked if they could they recommend a church or women’s bible study where I could meet women my age.
As we watched the moving truck drive away from our home in Southern California, headed for our new Midwestern adventure, I set aside my pride and e-mailed a Peoria church asking for help. Could there possibly be a group of young married people willing to help us move in and unpack? Our first Sunday in town we met our new family; 14 of the best people we have ever known.
More importantly, loneliness is spiritually powerful. It has driven me to pray when all else has failed. When my chattiness just wasn’t enough. When I could no longer rely on my friendly nature to create the community I so desired.
My loneliness has also driven me into His presence. The spiritual power of these relational dry spells has forced me to my last resort for companionship, Christ. How ashamed I’ve been in those seasons, realizing I had pushed Him aside, seeking the company of His children so fervently that I forgot all about my Best Friend.
Of course, He wants us to love one another, bearing each others’ burdens, uniting as one body, but not at the expense of our relationship with Him. He has empowered me to be bold in seeking relationship with His people, going before me, preparing friendships and connections that have blessed me and made me more like Him.
I’ve also ignored His prompting in my loneliness. I’ve been deaf to His call for closeness, instead relying on my own power, sinning through my naturally outgoing spirit, longing for and wrangling up flesh and blood friendships when I might have grown closer to Him in their absence.
It’s hard being the new girl, especially at 33. I’m thankful God has used loneliness to push me to brazenly seek His people, to be more open and honest than I could have imagined as I adjusted to life in a new family of believers, and that He has gone before me, preparing relationships, lining up people to impact me, love me, accept me, change me.
I hope that I will do better next time. That I won’t be so completely focused on human companionship, but listen more intently in the silence of my next lonely season. That I will hear His voice more clearly in the absence of earthly relationships, so I might allow Him to impact me more deeply, love me more wholly, accept me more completely, than any person every could. To change me permanently and know me intimately, as only He can.
Hi there! I'm Marie Osborne, a blogger, wife, & stay-at-home mom who loves Jesus & laughs often (rather loudly, usually at myself). But more importantly, I'm here in the trenches right beside you, candidly sharing my sinner's journey, running after Jesus, stubbornly committed to my marriage, battling my sin nature as I strive for grace-filled motherhood, and daily wrapping myself in His mercy, comfort and love. Find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to be encouraged, challenged, and laugh together. Visit my website to read more!