It's one of the things that I tend to blame on Greg's death. I think I'm lonely because my husband isn't here.
The truth is, I was lonely before. Widowhood didn't cause my loneliness, it exacerbated it.
There's a loneliness - an alone-ness- inside all of us. There are places in our hearts and minds that no one else can access. There are experiences and interpretations of those experiences that cannot be fully communicated with words. There is a knowing that comes from experiencing something, and an un-knowing that comes from hearing about it second hand.
Marriage was often lonely. Greg was my best friend but he could not be my all in all. He was my companion and partner but he wasn't me. We walked through joys and sorrows together but experienced them differently. I couldn't fully understand him and he couldn't fully understand me.
Walking through a heart transplant was lonely. I watched from the sidelines as peers lived "normal" lives while I spent my days how a person 60 years my senior might; at the hospital bedside of a dying spouse.
When Greg survived and began to recover from his transplant, it was wonderful but still lonely. He was back home with me but our lives had radically changed. The new path we were on was hard and we each had to grieve losses and limitations. Again, we watched as others lived the life we thought we would have, but didn't. We faced it as a team; one flesh, united by marriage and in it together no matter what comes. But we were both lonely, often. A spouse cannot fill your soul.
Widowhood is lonely. Single-parenting is lonely. Watching my widowed friends begin to date or find new love is lonely. Christmas is lonely. As is bedtime, meal time and packing-for-trips time.
The lie I'm tempted to believe is that if Greg was here, the loneliness would go away. The truth is that a lot of it would, but not all of it. Not the deep down loneliness - the "alone-ness" that comes from being human.
I'm also tempted to believe that remarriage would fix the loneliness, but how could it when so much of what shaped me has not been experienced by another?
No, loneliness is here to stay.
Therefore, my hope cannot be in loneliness disappearing from my life. Hope can only be found in Jesus joining me in my loneliness.
Jesus lived a lonely life. He experienced shame, rejection, betrayal and injustice. He was born out of wedlock, which was quite the scandal in his time. He was an immigrant escaping the threat of death. All the boys born within 2 years of his birth near his hometown were killed by a jealous and ruthless king (Matthew 2:12-23). As the lone survivor in his age group, I wonder how many families resented him?
He was misunderstood, mistreated, and mocked. He was a "man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3). He was single. He was homeless. He was ultimately forsaken by his Heavenly Father at the moment of his greatest suffering and experienced the breaking of their perfect relationship of love (Matthew 27:46).
These truths do not take away my loneliness but they help me realize that I'm not alone in it. My Lord himself lived a lonely life. And he did it for me. He did it so that I am not alone even in my loneliness. He did it so that one day I will be free from loneliness forever.
I am going to have to walk through this life with deep longings and aches that wont be fulfilled. Such is life in this sin-soaked world. But by grace, I don't have to walk through it alone.