…[M]en usually feel that a strain could have been endured no longer at the very moment when it is ending, or when they think it is ending….in attacks on patience, chastity, and fortitude, the fun is to make the man yield just when (had he but known it) relief was almost in sight. ~ The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis
If I’m going to write posts where I complain about things, it seems dishonest and somehow wrong not to write when I see God at work in them, too. This is one of those personal and vulnerable posts that make me uncomfortable to publish, but that make me think I would be somehow remiss if I did not tell this story. So … here goes.
I just wrote a semi-humorous but 100% truthful post about the loneliness of being single. Although it was a bit about wanting to find that “someone,” it was primarily about the loneliness of having few local friends, and none of them fellow singles. But this loneliness is only one of several terrible things I have been dealing with lately.
Yes, there’s loneliness/ singleness, but I’ve also been stressed by insomnia, the approach of the holiday season, a lack of direction in my life, the awkwardness of switching churches and trying to make connections in the new one, work-related frustrations (relatively minor compared to everything else; the other stuff just makes me not want to deal with work), and oh yes, my mom and stepdad got divorced.
[Mmm…nope. There is no amusing photo I could put in that possibly relates to all this.]
This week, I was at my limit. Thursday I went to a small-group dinner, desperate to talk about at least part of it, but I never had the opportunity. In social settings, I have trouble talking about myself unless I am asked a direct question, and I was never asked a direct question except what I thought of Thor 2. (Side note: I’m a little embarrassed that my disappointment in the movie contributed to my recent depression, but movies literally have been the only thing I have had to look forward to, and then I didn’t even have that.) Rather than easing the emotional burden, I went home far worse, feeling that it made no difference whether I had been there or not. Online, I told a couple long-distance friends that I was so lonely, I wanted to die. But I vowed to survive until Friday, at least.
The next day, Friday, I powered through work and Zumba just so I could crash back into bed and my pajamas for as long as possible. But that evening, a friend in the same small group, who had been at the dinner, invited me to join her at a coffee shop while she did some work. Despite my loneliness and depression, my first thought was, “But I’m tired and I want to wallow in my misery. I don’t want to have to put on a bra and pants [trousers, to you British readers] or even makeup and go outside.”
I texted back to say, “thanks for the invite but I’m sooo tired so maybe another time.” 20 minutes later I hadn’t heard back, and I started to question my reply. I realized, “If I receive an invitation by a person I like to do a thing I like at a time I’m free, and I say ‘no’ for no other reason than I am tired and just want to wallow in my misery, then I have no right to ever complain about my loneliness ever again.”
I grabbed my phone to rescind my previous reply, but saw that I had typed it out and never sent it. Well then. I told her I would join her once I was ready, and I did. I grabbed my latest literary acquisition–C.S. Lewis’ anthology of George MacDonald–to read while I was there. It was a great time–reading silently, sharing a table, with occasional chat breaks. All the makings of an introvert party. I had a chance to talk a little bit about some things that were going on, and as I left we made plans for other Fun Times down the road.
When I got home, feeling ten times more human and a million times less miserable, I was thinking about the part in The Screwtape Letters that I posted above. So praise God for His provision,when I was just about at my breaking point.