If you’re reading this and you’re married or partnered or whatever the phrase is now (‘coupled’ ? Or is that just for railway carriages?) and something unexpected or unsettling pops into your life, there is someone to talk to. Someone who knows you, and understands that what you say is probably something you’re working out as you say it… that sometimes we have to hear what we’re saying before we know what we think…. If you have a partner you can say a daft thing and they won’t judge and if they recognise that you just need to get it off your chest, they’ll probably only half listen. And sometimes half-listening is all we need. There’s such freedom in that. You marrieds don’t need to say everything to each other, all the time (can you imagine two constant streams of the subconscious?) but when you have a small and intricate dilemma, there’s someone there to turn to.
And you know that even when you get it wrong, horribly wrong, there’s someone on your side, someone who’ll be there when you do turn to them.
In the Bible there are (good old Google), over 80 references to widows. In that culture a widow was vulnerable economically and socially, and if her family didn’t provide for her she was in big trouble. But our society is different, widows may not be rich but they ain’t starving… so what does this ‘look after widows’ stuff mean to us today? I think it means look after those who have no one to turn to, men or women or teenagers who have no obvious helpmeet in this world, widows, widowers, divorced people, and singletons.
I’ve been alone for 27 years and that makes you independent because you have to be. There’s absolutely no choice. If I have a car accident, Muggins has to deal with it. If something goes wrong in the home, Muggins is the fixer. If I wake in fear, guess what, there’s just Muggins, the same Muggins who’s struggling with that fear. If I’m in a dilemma of conscience or emotion…. you guessed it. And if I hear something that’s unsettling and hurtful, who can I turn to? Yep. And sometimes I just don’t have the answer that will take me through today to tomorrow. That is what it is to be alone.
I read something yesterday that just tore me apart. It seemed to me, all alone here in these four walls, to be an attack on people I regard and care about, and I felt hopelessly upset about this. With no one to talk to, it stayed in my head all through the afternoon, all through the evening, it went to bed with me, unspoken and unsorted. I prayed about it, handed it over, and then handed it over again, and yet woke with it.
This is what it is to be alone. And to be alone for 27 years is unbearable. It’s like being in solitary confinement for a lifetime. This is me telling you right now, and telling God right now, I am sick of being alone.
There. Said it. SICK of it.
I am tired of being capable. Of coping. Of living in silence. Of waking alone. Of being told that my dogs are good company (the smug marrieds say this). Of pious people reminding me that I have Jesus (the smug marrieds say this). Of suggestions about joining a club, a society, Open University (yep, the smug….). I am tired of having no one I can blow off steam to. So I’m blowing off steam to a blog.
Maybe I’m just tired.
“Come to me, all you who are heavy burdened and I will give you rest.”
Today I am heavy burdened, tearful and still a bit pre-occupied with words I can say only to a trusted loving partner. This is what it is to be alone, but it’s also what it is to be a Christ follower. I have to let go of the hurt enough to turn to Him. I have to have faith enough to know He’s here. That He cares. That He will protect the people I care about, and sort out the person hurting them, and finally, finally, be the one I can turn to. I have to let go and let God.
Muggins here has to let go and let God.
This is what it is to be alone.