I spend my fair share of time in coffee shops and I am normally sitting by myself, writing something.
That is exactly what I am doing now and I can honestly say that it is one of my favourite things to do. I feel like I can sit here with a different perspective and take it all in and here’s what I am seeing this morning. There is a man eating by himself and close by, a woman enjoys a solo coffee. Maybe they are like me and love taking this little bit of time by themselves, or maybe they just don’t have that partner to join them anymore. Maybe they never did or perhaps that is a major ache currently on their heart. Can I tell you something else I see? I see an employee smiling in his job as he talks to another man. He is not asking about the weather, rather about the dental appointment he seems to have discussed with him last week. To me, from my perspective, it is clear that these two men only know each other in this capacity, the one where he calls for his breakfast and the other man serves him.
More women have sat down at tables by themselves, have they had a proper chat with anyone today, or this week? Or are they dealing with chronic loneliness? We start to think about lonely people at this time of year, but what about the other eleven months? Who cares then? I’m sure that I fall into this category at times and I’m also aware that the people in front of me may have busy, full lives. But they are out there, they come in the form of elderly folk sitting by themselves and they also present themselves as men or women working full-time, perhaps serving in those shops. They are giving all the chat of the day, going to all the family events and friends gatherings, but still feeling the same way- Lonely. We can look like we have life completely together on the outside and yet, feel lonely on the inside. I love the fact that I am here by myself right now, I am not self-conscious or dealing with any kind of anxiety in my surroundings. However, when I am at home, struggling to understand why my husband’s leg spasms are particularly bad, or why he is so crazy uncomfortable in his wheelchair and I literally have zero answers anymore, I feel lonely. I feel like there is nobody out there who could help me and surely no-one is feeling the way I do. Now when I gain perspective, I know that these things aren’t true.
I am aware that there are plenty of people dealing with really difficult situations that I will never experience or understand. I know there are people I can share my load with and that people want to help. But no, I could never ask for help! I cant tell my friends how much my heart breaks when I try and fail to book a nice time away. Do I go into every detail that stops me from being able to book or do I just tell them that this in turn, makes me really sad about life and I feel massive amounts of grief for how things used to be. My goodness that is just too heavy. I do not want them to feel upset about me or that they have to hide their own lives to protect me. That’s literally the worst thing that could happen yet, would it reduce my hurt if I didn’t see everyone on fancy holidays, well yeh probs. It’s not even the “fancy” part, it’s the last minute plans that kill me the most. I want spontaneous. But here is the thing, I need and really want to celebrate the joy and good things that go on in my friend lives. It is about stepping over myself and stepping into celebrating others. That’s how I love the people around me.
For some reason I always remember a silly wee post I put on my Instagram stories last December. As is the new tradition on social media, we all share our reflections on the year in the form of GIF and this particular one asked for the best part of 2018. This was a pretty difficult one to think about as 2018 had been the worst year of my life to date. Andy had his accident in 2016, but so much good happened before that and we saw God move so much more after that I wouldn’t say it was the worst. That surprises people, but really, last year was filled with disappointment after disappointment, problem after problem and I felt so overwhelmed, powerless and often lonely. So let’s find at GIF for that eh? I was honest in all the questions and the best part of my year was standing beside my best friend as she got married and started her new life with her husband. There was a cute little GIF of a wedding and then a “BFF” thing just in case anyone thought I got remarried without telling Andy. On that day and the days running up to the wedding it was not about me, I had to step over myself and jump into the joy and love of celebrating marriage. I was overwhelmed with the joy I felt for my friend that I had to leave the room while she was getting her hair done on the morning of the wedding. I needed to have a wee cry and some serious words with myself, to pull myself together but no, the emotions continued and made their way into the wedding video, sorry guys!
There are people around you who are dealing with loneliness, maybe it is you. I know there are times when you can’t see past yourself and you need much more support. I’d firstly like to encourage you to reach out to someone and let them know. People don’t know what to do and I understand that. Some days I want you to tell me all the exciting things in your life and other days that will probably tip me over the edge, but no-one knows that, especially if you do not tell them. The second thing I would like to do, is encourage you to actively celebrate someone around you this week. One random Sunday in 2018 a pastor in our church facilitated a call to prayer at the end of the service. I go to a church where they love to push (in a loving way) you out of your comfort zone and it’s normally the best thing for you. So he called forward anyone who felt like life was good, they had prayers answered or were witness to their own dreams working out. My heart sank as I stood there with nobody around me. There are people scattered behind me but I was in the second row and standing alone. After he gave me a look to say I’m really sorry for what I’m about to do, he asked for those still standing At their seats to come forward and pray for these people. To celebrate them and thank God for what He was doing. Maybe with a slight bit of resistance I went and I prayed. For my friends expecting a baby (who is now a beautiful wee 8 month old girl), my other friend who just became a wife and a mum of three in our community who has such a beautiful heart. I thanked God for His goodness and He filled my heart with joy. There was a reluctance, it felt difficult but it blessed me massively and shaped the way I feel towards all of that today. Maybe it has inspired this piece of writing? But of course it had impact, the Holy Spirit spoke to a man, who then asked us to do something he knew would be so, so hard- that was obedience. Afterwards he apologised and I was able to encourage him that he had no need.
Okay, I have written so much more than planned, my hand hurts and all the solo eaters have been replaced by chatty couples and friends. As I continue to look around I would challenge you this, if you don’t fall into the category of loneliness, look for those who do and pray with them, spend time with them and allow them to feel loved. It is so important and if you get knocked back, step over yourself, over the feelings of awkwardness and do it again. We will all fail sometimes but I am aiming to learn how to fail fast.
As it has been a good six months since my last post I just wanted to say that we are doing well and that I hope to post a little update soon. Thank you so much for following along, despite the silence.
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” Matthew 28:20