Loneliness is good, loneliness is good, loneliness is good…

I’m kinda lonely right now.

Weird thing to write about for my second post in a million years, huh?  And there are other reasons it might seem weird.  I live in a house with 1 pre-teen pre-hormonal almost 11yo boy, 1 extremely dramatic 7yo girl, 1 louder-than-life 6yo boy and a 2yo (’nuff said).  And on a weekly basis, my husband and I see a sea of Middle School & High School students.  My life shouldn’t be lonely by any stretch of the imagination.  Yet, here I am.  Lately, I can be in a room full of people, and feel completely alone.

I was sorta trapped between writing about this or not for several reasons:

a)  I do not want anyone to let out an “awww” therefore rendering me pitiful and dejected…

b)  I do not want my friends to think that they’ve failed me in some way by not calling, emailing, or texting enough…

c)  I do not want people to start worrying about the possibility that I may begin to accumulate cats and wear a gross old robe while I wander aimlessly around my hoarded house grumbling to myself -or worse- an imaginary friend…

d)  I do not want people to start looking at my Facebook wall for signs of depression and stage an intervention (though, it would be nice to see people)…

e) All of the above

Truth be told, I think God really has me where He wants me.  But, why tell you now, when I explain through a series of random reflections.  Let’s begin.

I love to entertain.  My pre-marital dream was to have incredible dinner parties, holiday parties, birthday parties, whatever parties.  Parties that would make even Martha, green with Pinterest-Envy.  In all reality, we have thrown very few of those successful parties.  Mostly, we’ve thrown parties that are a bust. I’m sure this has happened to some of you as well.  You plan to party, you buy all the food, you clean your house within an inch of its life, invites are out, time arrives…. and 5 people show up.  Yep.  That’s pretty much the trend.  And it’s always circumstantial.  Kids were sick.  People out of town.  People who are crazy busy in general (a problem in our culture unfortunately).  They were all good excuses, and we indeed had fun with 5 people. Yada Yada Yada.  However, we all have messages we tell ourselves in times such as those.  “Am I not likeable?”  “Has my halitosis gotten out of control?” & “Is it because my couch has 5,000 stains on it?”  An entire host of filters & triggers that our past brings right up to the surface.  And, for years the message I have taken away from a situation such as this has been “you are alone.”

I hate to fly.  I am a proud aviaphobe.  Okay, maybe not proud.  I keep my mouth shut on the plane even though I feel as though I might tackle and possibly elbow the lip of an innocent flight attendant in an escape attempt seconds before they close the door.  With the exception of a few blissful years, I don’t have many loving memories of air travel.  I once heard that people who are afraid to fly are highly intelligent and extremely creative.  I will take that definition, thank you very much.  But with that fast working creative mind, my mind comes up with scenarios mid-flight in which I fear that I cannot get off this flying contraption.  30,000 feet is too high for me to parachute from… but when I want out, I want out.  Call it claustrophobia or call it ‘creative thinking.’  The message that bombards me mid-flight is always “you are alone.”

We just moved back to a city that we only left 3 years ago.  We had an incredible church community with friends who saw us through some pretty incredibly awesome times and alternately, heart-wrenchingly bad times.  They, like the adage, are the kind of family you choose for yourself.  3 years later -now- we are in a completely unfamiliar part of town, surrounded by people we barely know, separated from our old “family” by 25min of insanity-inducing highway/interstate of traffic and then of course, life.  I don’t see my friends much, if at all.  But our family answered a call from God to come back here…not to our old ‘hood.  We have begun a new ministry program at 4 churches in an affluent downtown area, starting from the ground up, and with the exception of a few faces I know and can place a name to, I haven’t made that “family” connection with anyone…yet.  And so here it is again for the last time “you are alone.”

But a funny thing happened on the way to spiritual direction last month.  (Okay, IN spiritual direction.)  During the beautiful thick of Advent, my spiritual director, after lamenting to him that I wasn’t sure how to shake the loneliness, said “Maybe this is your Advent year.  Maybe this is a year for you to feel the emptiness, the lacking, the hunger for more.  Maybe this is your time, like the Infant Jesus, to return to the manger, to be swaddled, to be held, and to only radiate peace & joy.”  Wow.  Um.  How can I have dinner parties when I’m SWADDLED!! I want my arms free!!  I want… control.  Control of the parties.  Control of the plane.  Control of the friendships.  Control of the loneliness.

Around that same time, a friend posted something on Facebook to the effect of “When you feel the loneliest is when you need to be alone the most.”   It was (oh Mylanta, I’m about to use an Oprah-ism) my a-ha moment.  This is my year to see where the stillness, the quiet, the lack of control will bring me.  I have no idea what the end of the story might be, and even though I’m not loving the beginning, I think I can be alone…in this… for a while.

You see, in an entire room of people, that sea of people who carry their own imperfections, burdens, & worries,  there is not one who can give me what I really need.  Only He can.

And, therefore, I am never alone.

“God of our life, there are days when the burdens we carry chafe our shoulders and weigh us down; when the road seems dreary and endless, the skies grey and threatening; when our lives have no music in them, and our hearts are lonely, and our souls have lost their courage. Flood the path with light, run our eyes to where the skies are full of promise; tune our hearts to brave music; give us the sense of comradeship with heroes and saints of every age; and so quicken our spirits that we may be able to encourage the souls of all who journey with us on the road of life, to Your honour and glory.”  St. Augustine



  1. That was beautiful…thank you for making yourself vulnerable…and sharing something I needed to hear. I do not feel as alone.

  2. Beautiful. I think a lot more people are with you in your alone’ness than you think. Keep writing – even if it is only every once in a blue moon.

  3. I definitely appreciate this blog post. I’ve been feeling alone a lot lately too. (Something I never thought could happen on a college campus with 40,000 students and over 500 clubs/organizations.)

  4. Thanks for sharing Joia, and for bring so honest. We love you so much, and hope to cross that 25 min distance more often!

  5. Joia, I just had a New Year’s Eve party with 30+ guests that raged on until 3am (while Sam, thankfully, slept just a few feet away) and I still wasn’t satisfied!!! In CL we talk a lot about how that constant yearning is a sign of our unquenchable desire and it’s so true! Alone or surrounded by people…..we’re never satisfied!

  6. The advice of your spiritual director made me think of this project:
    It might not totally be what you want to do right now, but it is good advice on taking time out of our busy worlds to disconnect, think, pray, and just be. Having quiet, alone time is good, and perhaps necessary.

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