Holy Lonely

Big tears drop from underneath her lashes and she looks away from me, just as our eyes meet. She wants me to ask and probe — I can tell — but she doesn’t make her answers readily available.

She wants me to prove myself trustworthy. Are you someone who is safe to hold my heart? Or, even more, will you fight to know this heart of mine?

Because real trust isn’t about availability — it’s not just about someone physically being there — its about the fight they will make on your behalf. My little girl knows this, somewhere, tucked away underneath all of those layers.

“I want a friend who is just like me, Mommy,” she confesses. “I feel alone.” She dismisses 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. A friend who is a year older, or another a year younger, doesn’t quite fit the bill. One, too “rowdy”, and another too quiet — both dismissed.

As we unpacked her ache, one thing was clear. Friendship, to her, was staring into a mirror and finding that unique individual on the other side to be a friend. She wanted companionship from one just like her. A girl who wouldn’t need to make an effort to climb into her skin and know what it was like to live with all those siblings, and who, also, wanted to put on her pajamas at two o’clock in the afternoon some days and who didn’t like messing with her hair. Companionship, to my little girl, was being known and the way to get there the fastest was to find someone who was her.

Without it, she felt alone.

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

I scan to find someone who can understand having four children whose frames are mended but hearts are still needing healing while their mama gives birth to another. I want wisdom from the one who educates her children at home and moonlights as a writer, one who can understand what I juggle. Where is she, tucked away in her prayer closet — most alive when she’s hidden — who feels alien to the world but still has to do laundry for five (soon six) others?

A few days searching down this 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 late, most nights way too late, discussing just about everything, And here I am cursed with the same ache.

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 I feel. It’s not an accident nor a consequence of something great that I’ve missed amid the age of uber-connectedness. It’s custom carved.

What feels “wrong” or off to me, is designated by Him.

God made us to feel that twinge of lonely on the earth. 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 feel the all-too-frequent disconnect between what I think I need, from another, and how they respond.

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 the God of the universe, who wants to cup them in His hands and add His life and His words and His insights to them, if I felt like I fit right here, on this earth.

God made us to feel that twinge of lonely. 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 I sit alongside the One who sees every single angle of me and still speaks love.

This loneliness — yours and mine — is purposed.

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

~Sara Hagerty

Sacred Story is honored to hear from Sara Hagerty this month as a guest contributor. Sara is the mother of four adopted orphans from Africa, Eden, Caleb, Hope and Lily, who she says are living breathing reminders of God’s faithfulness. She and her husband welcomed their biological son, Bo, in October 2013 after 12 years of asking. Sara’s first book, Every Bitter Thing is Sweet, is scheduled to be released by Zondervan in October 2014. To find hear more from Sara, follow the link to her blog.

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