Confession: I recently got razzed by my husband for indulging in a bit of southern gospel.
To be fair, I returned the favor by mentioning his return to his childhood roots. This genre of music, ahem, largely focuses on how sad and lonesome you are because your lover left you in the dust, the dog died, the bills are piling up, and the old pick-up truck’s run its last mile.
To tell you the truth, my life kind of looks like his genre of music.
When I got a request from a reader for a post on the lonely side of caregiving, it hit an instant chord with me. If you’re a long-term caregiver, it’s especially true. I was reminded again that caregivers deal with this constantly, but we aren’t the only ones feeling lonely!
One of my senior saints told me again this week for the upteenth and maybe last time, “It’s a great life if you don’t weaken.”
She and her husband have walked with Jesus for more than forty years. They’re in their eighties. He’s faced two bouts of cancer. Since December her husband has been in and out of the hospital. Last week, their only nearby daughter was in the ICU while they were packing and moving into a senior apartment.
I sat and cried and hugged her. I have never seen her so sad and lonely. “My daughter’s been my rock. I’ve leaned on her a lot. She would be right here helping me today. Now I don’t even know what is wrong with her!”
All the while, her home of more than forty years was suddenly being torn apart like a living plant being ripped up by the roots. This lady has literally kept most things in the same spot for the past ten years that I’ve done housekeeping for them. Every. Single. Item.
My tears dripped and mingled with hers. I wonder if her heart will ever recover from this dual shock. Yet, I pray in hope – hope for her and for myself.
Where is the hope in this, you wonder?
If you’re at all like me, no one near you know really understands your struggles as a wife to a chronically ill husband.
At home you don’t share your struggles because you don’t want to further depress your struggling spouse.
You certainly don’t want to discourage your children, if you’re a parent.
There’s no human being to talk to, you feel like, who will listen with compassion and not criticize your already bruised heart. However, like me, you have friends. Christian friends who love the Lord — they express their care and compassion in the ways they know how.
But you are too busy trying to survive to get to their Bible studies, their ladies’ nights out, etc., because you are literally doing the job of two people at home. It’s incredibly hard to find time to invest in other relationships.
Jesus is our only true hope in loneliness. My relationship to Him is my top investment.
His hands have made and fashioned me. (Psalm 139) He knows my every move and my every thought. Have you read this passage lately? Put your name into it as you read!
I can pour out all my feelings and needs to Him without shame, because He already knows what I’m struggling with at the moment.
When I do have shame because of sin, I can freely confess this and be freely forgiven. His wounds have paid my ransom.
While we can never receive from another human being this level of understanding, we should not cut ourselves off from Christ’s body, either.
We want to let Christ make us better, not allow ourselves to be bitter.
We have to be willing to continue to love Christ’s body even when it’s messy, even ugly, and imperfect, just like us.
Some things you just cannot share.
Some things will never be understood by someone who has never walked this road.
But share what you can. It takes courage.
Be willing to have some vulnerability. Be willing to say to that friend who asks how things are going, “Yes, life is incredibly challenging. Pray for me to juggle wisely! Or, pray for this upcoming doctor’s visit to actually be worth our time and effort.”
I recently told a friend that my husband has been walking through a very dark valley. She knew this partially already because of some things he had (unwisely) posted on the internet. Sigh.
But, she didn’t know the whole story. I couldn’t and won’t tell her everything, but I did share what I could. If she could see the whole picture, like God does, her perspective would be very different. She’s not God. Neither am I. But I’m the one person on earth that should have the most compassion and understanding for my husband. That’s what Jesus wants from me.
Even Jesus’ closest friends fell asleep during his hour of deepest need. Peter even betrayed him. Jesus does understand loneliness.
I’ve come to understand you have to choose your “inner circle” wisely. Shut out the negative. Shut out those who think they’re helping by criticizing, at least in the sense of limiting contact. But make sure you also keep those close to your heart who truly love Jesus.
Soak yourself in what is true, lovely, and right. Once again, may I recommend the Psalms?
True love and understanding waits for you right here. There is not a sorrow or struggle you feel that isn’t mentioned in the Psalms.
I also love the book of John where Jesus gives out the different I AMs. I am the Bread of Life. I am the Living Water. I am the True Vine. I am the Good Shepherd. I am the Light of the World. All I need, He is.
Then there’s Isaiah. The gospel and Jesus are so clearly seen in this book, it’s amazing. Parts of it read like a Psalm. For sure, the prophet knew his Messiah!
The Word. The Church. Christ’s Bride. I find these to be true cures for loneliness. I hope this helps you battle loneliness, too. How may I pray for you this week?