In case you hadn’t noticed, Valentine’s Day happened a couple weeks ago, and, thanks to a comment I read on Facebook, the idea of loneliness has haunted me ever since. I didn’t write it down, so I can’t quote it exactly for you, but it went something along the lines of loneliness being a stop along our path, not a final destination. It was actually written much more eloquently than that, but that’s the gist. And it rubbed me the wrong way. I’m not sure why; it’s not like I’ve done a great deal of thinking about loneliness, but I’d apparently inadvertently done enough that I instantly disagreed.
Now, granted, I’m not the average American. For instance, I don’t think that ALL pain is bad for us. In fact, I’m a rather avid believer that God often not only allows, but welcomes pain into our lives in order to mold us into the beings He’d originally designed for us to be. He often uses pain to help us become the most develop version of ourselves that we can in this broken universe. And so, while I don’t always welcome pain, I think I don’t flee from it as much as many people around me. I don’t see it as a curse.
And loneliness fits into that. Loneliness, is, after all, painful. But what if my loneliness ISN’T a bad thing? I know most people say that loneliness is that longing to be known, to have someone love you – even after knowing all the wonderful good and slimy junk that makes up your story. Which, I’d agree with. I know most people say that loneliness is ended when a person finds their “soul mate”, or the one that makes them complete. But I have known many a married person (with wonderful spouses) who STILL have lonely days. And, when that husband or wife doesn’t fulfill the needs of the other, often there is a lot of bitterness and anger.
But, what if humans can’t take our loneliness away from us? What if no human can, no matter how kindred of a spirit they are, or how very close of a soul mate they are to you? What if that’s not their job? Because if so, then we’re getting angry at each other (and breaking up relationships) over something those relationships were never meant to do, over something those people were never able to do.
What if, WHAT IF our loneliness is our soul longing to be back in communion with Christ the way we were originally intended to be at the beginning of the world? In Eden? What if that longing is the desire to be one with Christ?
Than all of our expecting mere humans to fulfill that desire is idolatry. Than our trying to block out our loneliness is really us trying to replace God with boyfriends or movies or food or video games or being in shape or cars or shopping or volunteering or sports. And that’s not good. It keeps us from knowing and embracing the masterpiece that God intends each of us to be.
So my challenge to you is to stop trying to avoid or drown-out loneliness. But the next time it comes around, welcome it. Take some time out and pray, or be still, or go on a hike and talk to your Creator. Draw close to the One who knows you better than anyone ever could (even a husband or wife); cuddle up with your ultimate Soul Mate, the One you were created for.