Friday, September 13, 2013

The discipline of loneliness

I have, at various stages in my journey, suffered from loneliness, some times more acutely than others. It is an interesting struggle for someone like me, me the introvert among introverts. I mean, really, what does an introvert crave more than her morning coffee if not solitude? I have discovered, however, as contrary as it seems, solitude is very different from solitary and those solitary periods of life, however long or however short, can be quite discouraging.

I remember me as a young mom convinced I was invisible. If not for changing diapers and filling juice cups would anyone even miss me? I wasn't sure. Though solitude was an impossibility what with four kids in a span of six years, but the solitariness, the loneliness, of that stage often left me depressed and discouraged. The tantrums, the endless reading of Good Night Moon, the constant pleas for "Mom! Mommy! Mama! Mommmmmmeeeeeeeee!", these were my private, lonely struggles that often comprised my day-to-day life. Oh, those stages passed and soon enough but, still, they were hard.

I find me as an older mom occasionally fighting a similar battle against loneliness. I no longer feel invisible but I do sometimes feel alone. It's a strange stage of life, here in the middle years, a theme we've explored several times here on this site. From the emptying nest to midlife issues to aging parents to menopause, much of what we face in our day-to-day life can feel like a solitary endeavor. We may be grieving a loss, worrying over a rebellious child, enduring a dark night of the soul. Who understands, we wonder. Who cares?

I am currently reading through Octavius Winslow's Consider Jesus in my morning devotions. A few days ago I read the following on loneliness...

How lonely may be your grief, O believer! None share your sorrow, few understand it. You are 'as a sparrow alone on the house-top.' There are none to watch with you in the garden of your anguish--your wounded heart, like the stricken deer, bleeds and mourns in secret. But your sorrow is all known to your loving, compassionate Savior; whose wisdom appointed it, whose love sent it, whose grace sustains it, and who will soothe and strengthen with His tenderest sympathy. Let your labor of love, your lonely sorrow, throw you more entirely upon, and bring you into closer, more believing, and more loving relations with, the Savior; wean you more from the creature; separate you more from the world; and set you more supremely apart from God. Oh! then you will thank Him for the discipline of loneliness as among the holiest and most precious blessings of your life!

Can we thank Him for the discipline of loneliness? Can we trust Him who appointed and sent this stage with its sometimes lonely struggles? Yes. He is faithful. He sees. He knows. He strengthens. He comforts. Yes and amen.

And our faithful God has not left us alone, no matter how lonely we may feel. He has given us the local church, sisters and brothers in Christ to bear our burdens and share our joys. Not only that but it is our desire here at Out of the Ordinary to be a source of gospel encouragement no matter your stage of life. May the Lord show Himself faithful to us all in our lonely times and our times of fullness! He is so good!


  1. Again, you're speaking my heart, Lisa. I have often realized that God is giving me the solitude to draw me to Him.

  2. I almost Tweeted the other day: "Introverts get lonely too." Now I believe I will...and link to your post. :)

  3. I have had a similar experience. Now I have a young niece who is suffering through it. I hope to get the chance to share this post with her! Thank you! It is so timely!

  4. Beautifully encouraging. But I paused at the 2nd to last sentence of dear Winslow's quote: "and set you more supremely apart from God." Let's all know that in these seasons, He has set us apart TO Himself & FOR Himself. Glory!