Walking Our Faith: The razor’s edge of loneliness (column)
In a small green notebook, I write letters to God. On occasion I have written, “Dear God, I am so lonely.”
By my nature, I am an introvert and require time alone to allow my mind to wander and rest.
I have discovered, however, there is a fine line between introversion and isolation. And crossing into that wasteland is so effortless you don’t realize you have left the familiar territory of yourself until you have ventured far afield.
In the desolate Land of Alone, by the time you endeavor to turn back, that way has disappeared. All you see is that you are alone and no one has come to find you.
I speak from experience. One hour in this place quickly turns into a day and then a week. Before you know it, reaching out for companionship seems impossible. When you are here, your mind plays tricks on you as you try to recall a time when you had friends or felt loved. All you remember is being alone or being rejected.
When we are in the grips of loneliness the only voice we hear is the one in our head and often it’s not reliable.
Ironically, when I most need companionship is when it’s most difficult to convince myself to get out among other people. That is the Mobius loop of loneliness. And that is when we need our friends to help.
Last winter, Pat called me every Wednesday and said, “Let’s go, I’m driving to knitting and you’re going to join me.” Some weeks, that would be the only time I left the house.
My friend Barbara did the same when I went a month without showing up at Saturday evening Mass at Saint Mary’s because I couldn’t bring myself to drive on the winter roads after dark.
If you share these tendencies toward isolation, please know that you will always feel better if you leave the house and go out among people. Call a friend and meet for coffee. Take your dog to the dog park. Go to the library. Go to a free class at BreckCreate or the rec center.
Go to church. We have friendly churches throughout Summit County. You will be welcomed with open arms.
Sometimes I need a place to be with people during the week. Our Lady of Peace offers an 8 a.m. Mass on Monday and Wednesday in Silverthorne. St. Mary’s has an 8 a.m. Mass on Tuesday and Thursday. Come, even if you aren’t Catholic. These short services have fewer people and if you are an introvert, that might be easier to handle and your heart will be filled with peace.
I encourage you to become a volunteer at your church. You will make friends, find joy in helping others and discover a deepening of your faith. From these weekly interactions will grow hope and optimism.
Most of all, I want you to know that you are loved by God and that your life has meaning and purpose.
Go out into the world and participate in God’s plan for your life. Your life is not a mistake. You are meant to be here and to contribute to our community. Psalm 139 is your love letter from God.
O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
O Lord, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain it.
Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night,’
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson is the author of A Map of Heaven and other books. You can reach her at http://www.facebook.com/suzanneelizabeths
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