A Brief Look Inside the Book
Hope in These Light Afflictions Day 3- A Deep, Aching Loneliness
*All week, we will be taking pieces of a devotional I wrote on marital infidelity, Hope in These Light Afflictions. The story is mine and shares many thoughts and feelings from that part of my life’s journey. While it was a season of incredible emotional pain, it also opened the door to becoming better acquainted with the Great Comforter. My prayer is that our story will point others facing similar pain to Jesus. Additionally, I pray that some of the things I learned through that period of time would be a help to even just one.
One of my biggest battles going into our period of separation was loneliness. I am a person who greatly enjoys being around people and I treasure the gift of a good companion. I don’t need to always be engaged in conversation, but I find it so comforting to know someone is there. Losing that was very, very difficult for me.
I was a parent of young adults at the time. While they were living in the home, they were filled with their own commitments to school, friends, work and other responsibilities. I did not want them to feel they had to sit with me, because I confess that I wasn’t always the most joyful company. I wanted them to have a social life and have that space to enjoy relationships and friendships that brought them joy and opportunities to talk if they wanted to. But I know they felt a sense of guilt when they made plans and I was left at home alone. I hated that for them, but I also did not enjoy long stretches of solitude.
Loneliness was real. It wasn’t only about needing to have someone there, but it also included a sense that others did not understand. I had no close family members or friends who had walked this same journey I was walking. Everyone did their best to include me in their social plans, and I appreciated it. But the fact was there—they couldn’t understand. This, oddly, led me to feel like withdrawing from people.
There were days when I wanted to talk to some of my closer friends about my situation, but other days I felt exhausted from the emotions that talking brought to the surface and I wanted to be home in my safe spot—the couch. I had a few people I confided in at times, but there wasn’t one person in the world I told everything to. It was simply too heavy, too embarrassing, too confusing, and too painful.
My husband had always held such a prominent place in my family, and without him I simply didn’t know where to fit in. I was half of a whole, and I found myself making excuses to turn down invitations to dinners, get-togethers, or special gatherings. I spent many evenings home alone. I ate many meals alone on my couch. Instead of the social butterfly I had always been, I felt like a recluse. This was so alien to my nature, and looking back, I can see that I was grappling with a lost identity. It was so difficult to try to continue in familiar rhythms and spheres when I was broken.
Are you lonely and feeling lost? Are you withdrawing from social situations and from enjoying things you once loved? It’s a serious place to be in and it’s devastating to lose your former identity. All I can tell you is that in the darkest and loneliest places, Jesus met me. I spoke to Him and He spoke back. I cried and He consoled. Every night as I went to sleep, I would reach over to the empty spot in our bed, knowing the Lord would fill that empty space with His kind and loving Presence.
Even as I felt myself withdrawing from so many of the people I deeply loved and cared for, I felt myself drawing closer and closer to Christ. I desperately needed Him and He never disappointed me or left me. He won’t leave you either, friend. Lean on His strength and soak up His comfort—there is nothing better!
O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you. (Psalm 38:9 ESV)
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. (Psalm 25:16, ESV)