Holy Lonely: How Not to Feel So Very Alone

“I want a friend who is just like me, Mommy,” she said through tears to me, years ago.

I feel alone.

She dismissed those siblings of hers who like different songs, and sing to different beats and the spend their time ordering when she wants disorder or deconstructing when she wants to construct. She didn’t want a friend who was a year older, or another a year younger. Surely not one that’s too “rowdy”, or another too quiet.

We made a verbal list.

She wanted a girl who knew what it was like to live with all those crazy siblings, while also one who wanted to put on her pajamas at two o’clock in the afternoon some days. Oh, and one who didn’t like messing with her hair.

As we unpacked her ache, it was obvious. Friendship, to her, was like befriending a mirror. Two of the same — same dreams, same Saturday afternoon preferences, same favorite books. She wanted companionship from one just like her.

Underneath it all I could see — my little girl wanted to be known and the way she thought to get there the fastest was to find someone who was her.

Without it, she felt alone.

The conversation I’d had with her wasn’t all that different from the adult version I wrestled with, days later.

I scan a room to find someone, anyone, who can understand having multiple children whose frames are mended but with hearts still needing healing — one who knows adoption. I want wisdom from the one who educates her children at home but moonlights as a writer, one who really knows both these worlds. Where is she, this one tucked away in her closet — most alive when she’s hidden — but who feeds seven every night and can still throw a sweet evening dinner party for people who don’t wear bibs?

A few days walking down this internal path and I’m saying the same thing she is: “I feel alone.” Surrounded by friends — beautifully thoughtful and engaged friends — and a husband with whom I stay up long after my little people are in bed discussing just about everything, and here I am cursed with the same ache.

Aren’t you?

He drops one phrase into my spirit as I drive, alone in my car that seats eight: holy lonely.

This is His time, this loneliness that I feel now preserving me. It’s not an accident nor is it a consequence of something great that I’ve missed amid the age of uber-connectedness. It’s custom carved.

That twinge of lonely that we feel on the earth has a purpose. When I feel misunderstood or unknown or pegged in a way that’s just not me — when I’m scanning the room for that knowing nod, that one person who can spread out their toes on my ground and it feels familiar to them, and it’s not there, He is.

He made me to crave being known and yet He allows me to live in the lack of feeling fully known among a sea of people.

He carved this hole.

And only He will fill it.

Holy lonely.

I wouldn’t know the sweet companionship of pouring out my most private thoughts before God, who wants to cup them in His hands and give a wisp of His breath and His Words and His insights to them, if I felt like I fit right here, on this earth.

This twinge of lonely is more accurately a hunger for God.

That place we so avoid — the one that makes us want to fill our room and our schedule and our computer with faces and stories and conversations — is really just an invitation. Even the most “knowing” friend, the one who really gets us, falls short of the safety that comes when we sit in the lap of the One who sees every single angle of us and yet still speaks of His love.

This loneliness — yours and mine — is purposed.

Rather than run or find an escape, on this one day, let’s lean in.

Sit with Him in your loneliness and ask Him to tangibly begin to fill that empty space you feel.

Ask Him to make the lonely feel holy. Huddled.

{And I’ll say from experience, the best of my friendships are formed when I’m taking my lonely ache to Him. Ladies, we can isolate in “the name of God” — serving our people and keeping our secrets — while still living with that deep vacuum inside. Don’t do it. Take your lonely to Him and then ask Him to show you the ones with whom to link arms. Hunger for God is a beautiful common thread in friendship, even if that friend down the street is loud and quirky and you’re quiet and studied.}

For Your Continued Pursuit: Psalm 119:19 | Psalm 139:1-6, 17 | Song of Songs 4:12 | Song of Songs 2:3

Holy Lonely

Sara Hagerty

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Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet4Sara Hagerty is the author of Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet: Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things.  “This is one of the most beautiful books I’ve read in a very long time. Sara Hagerty is a particularly gifted writer (she has the most lovely writing style!) and her story touches the deepest of places. I found myself stopping many times while reading and just staring off as I pondered the truth of what she had to say. Inspiring, convicting, and touching. I highly recommend this book!” ~ Lisa Jacobson

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