It was a simple question. “How are you doing?” I asked. She paused, looked down and then back up, mustered a pensive smile, and said, “I’m okay.” Her response would have satisfied most people. Not me. I sensed the underlying hurt. Indeed, I identified with it in my own right. So I listened as she briefly shared just a snippet of her heart, her loneliness.
I’ve been there. In my own way I resonate with her heart’s cry. It is a cry usually held in private audience since it seems like the world is passing by with its own unrelenting agenda. In other words, who cares? It happens to all kinds of people. Singles. Marrieds. Old. Young. Wealthy. Poor. Homeowners. Homeless. We arrive at a point where loneliness achieves maximal potency, usually due to a perfect storm of events, situations, feelings, relational challenges, and so on. And it hurts.
But who cares?
The family which opens their home to friends struggling with loneliness. The person who invites another out for a meal and conversation. The friend who seeks out another, looking after them when they can scarcely look out for themselves in their darkest seasons. Those who are learning to love well. They are the ones who care.
They help us navigate lonely days when it is so easy to get off the Father’s way, so easy to become ensnared in traps of self-deception, sinful habits, and despair. They challenge us to look outside of ourselves and see the needs of others, forgetting our own loneliness so that we may comfort those in need. They invite us into community, teaching us grace and hospitality so that we may engage others in the same way.
By coming alongside us as we attempt to navigate lonely days, they help us to stay on the Father’s way. Together we learn the compassion of Jesus in the community of his followers. We learn to care, putting aside our lonely feelings to nurture God’s healing in others.