Loneliness is a real struggle for every human being at some point in their lives. Single people feel it “because they aren’t in a relationship” and those in relationships feel it when they find themselves at odds with their partner. Parents feel it when they feel unappreciated and unsupported. Sad people feel it when they need someone to talk to and their friend doesn’t answer the phone. Happy people feel it when they have no one to share their joy with. Employees or students feel it when their coworkers or classmates refuse to carry their share of the work load. Travelers feel it when they long for home or experience a language barrier. Anyone who wants to better themselves or make a difference in this life feels alone because betterment is always a fight against the current.
But what if I told you, no matter the cause, there is an infallible and always available cure for your lonliness?
“It seems only the old are able to sit next to one another and not say anything and still feel content. The young, brash and impatient, must always break the silence. It is a waste, for silence is pure. Silence is holy. It draws people together because only those who are comfortable with each other can sit without speaking.” – Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook
We go through life surviving. We strive to be “normal”. We want to fit in. We want to get by. We want to just be comfortable. But there is so much more to life than normal, so much more than ordinary.
There is a special plan for each and every one of us. We were created by love, for love. We were created for Paradise, for perfection, for greatness for fulfillment (see Longing).
But, this world falls short of what we were created for. We lose hope. We lose focus. We lose sight of our value and our purpose.
We need a reminder. We need to come back to what really matters. We need to remember that we are particularly called.
I thought Tarcisius was going to be a dejavu child, a replica, an afterthought, a double take. After all, when he was born he looked indistinguishable from my others and his birthday is the same week as 2 of them. I thought that the fact that we didn’t travel during his pregnancy to pick out his name (like we have with all the others) would make him less special. I thought that somehow he was going to get lost in the busyness of 4 children. I thought that he would forever live in the shadow of my first boy who even daddy is jealous of most of the time. I thought I wouldn’t have enough love to go around and that I wouldn’t be a good enough mom once I was stretched this thin… but I was wrong.
Last week I was told to reflect on Psalm 22. I had been crying to my friend about the trials of bedtime with 4 littles and a tired mommy especially when daddy isn’t there to help…. and my prayer was a beautiful experience, not just, I think, for mothers but for anyone trying to live out any vocation or, simply, a truly Christian life.
The Psalm is meant to be a foreshadowing of Christ’s sufferings at Calvary and the biggest shock I had was how much I related to it – how we all can relate – how much it felt like the Psalmist was describing my own life at that moment (minus the melodramatic psalmist vocabulary choices – or maybe with them – I’ll let you decide – haha).
Does Lent feel like a season for frustration and irritation? A time of complaining about all our discomforts, voluntary or otherwise? Do your good intentions feel somehow unappreciated or worthless? Does your extra prayer or acts of service seem empty, aimless or uncertain? If so, you might be focusing on the wrong thing this Lent…
In a homily in Assisi where Pope Francis reflected on why he chose his papal name, the Holy Father pointed out that the peace of Christ is born from the love of the Cross. Every human being has a cross. For some it may be their physical health or that of loved ones, for some it may be more related to financial or emotional well being. For some it may be combinations of all of the above. The point is, we all have crosses and we all suffer. Our tendency is to want to run from that which causes us pain, to escape it, to avoid it.
What is Lent all about? Why do we have this season anyway? Is it about giving up candy, Netflix, Facebook and meat? Why all the focus on “sacrifice”? Why do we fast? How do we decide what to “give up”? Why do we pray? How do we pray? Why do we spend this time focusing on filling food banks and upping our tithe? Is it just a good time of year to make us feel guilty about everyone less fortunate? Just a good time of year to make us feel guilty about being fortunate? a time of year to make us feel guilty about what we give up or don’t give up? about whether we meet or don’t meet our resolutions?
If we don’t experience the extreme levels of guilt often characteristic of this Season we might find ourselves experiencing other “non-lenten” emotions such as apathy or resistance. “I’m a good person, why should I have to do anything different”? or “I hate lent because I just can’t deal without my daily Starbucks” It is true that Lent encourages us to make sacrifices, to die to ourselves like Christ, to give more, to work harder, to move outside our comfort zone…. but the purpose often gets lost in the details. Let’s get back to what really matters!