I am the mom of eight children. I am the grandmother of three grandchildren and the mother-in-law to two sons. I am a wife, a friend, an auntie. I’m not just surrounded by people either. We have sixteen chickens, two miniature horses, a donkey, three dogs, three cats, and a turtle. To tell the truth, I’m almost never truly alone. Even when I’m in the bathroom, someone is pressing their face to the crack in the door asking me for a sandwich or a bowl of cereal.
My house has been bursting at the seams this summer, so why do I feel so alone? From the time I was small, I have hated being alone. It’s not a surprise that I have a big family. I love to be surrounded by people, and I crave connectedness. I am a verbal processor in every way. I love to talk things out and problem solve out loud with those around me. If I feel sad or happy or frustrated, I talk it out with someone.
I love having my kids home for the summer, but this summer has felt so lonely. Many of my children have special needs. Some of my children need strict structure, and that structure prevents us from staying out late with our neighbors or meeting friends at the park for impromptu playdates. This summer we’ve done a lot of shuffling and scheduling, each day just a repeat of the last. I haven’t had time for grown-up relationships, and I just feel alone.
A few nights ago, I put my kids to bed early. (It was just one of those days.) I completed some chores and went out to the tree swing at the back of our property. I watched the sun set over the now knee-high corn field and marveled at the beauty of it all. Then I started to cry. How can I feel so alone when I’m surrounded by so many wonderful things? I scolded myself for feeling sad, but it didn’t dismiss the sadness.
After I’d had a good cry, I started to pray. I thanked the Lord for my children, the sunset, the home I live in, and the friends I have who are also living this crazy life. I felt the presence of the Lord fill the ache in my heart, and the loneliness left me.
Then the phone rang, making me jump as it broke the silence. It was a friend I hadn’t had a chance to talk to all week. I answered right away, and we talked for an hour. The conversation did my heart good. The sun was completely gone, and the fireflies began their sparkling magnificence by the time I hung up. I sighed, grateful for the connectedness and ready to face the newness of the day that was to come. I thanked God for knowing me and for sending me a friend when I needed one.
Sometimes I feel alone and unknown. I feel like no one really knows me. Then I remember that the God who made me, knows everything about me. “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely” (Psalm 139:1-4 NIV).
Lord, I know that you know me. I know that you made me and that you have sent your Holy Spirit to be with me each day. Thank you for loving me and meeting all my needs, even my need for connectedness. Amen.