I’m sixty-two, sitting in the shade of a beautiful maple tree and sipping white wine while Carol King is crooning on the stereo, “you just call out my name and you know wherever I am I’ll come running … to see you again… You’ve Got a Friend… .” That song (You’ve Got a Friend) is from my youth and probably one of my all time favorite songs that is not connected to the memory of some past love or relationship. As I sit here on the porch this weekend there are three chairs: one for me, one for my cat and one for my feet. There’s no husband or romantic partner these days and the only male in residence is my cat Luvy. Most of the time I’m okay with that. But truth be told there are times when I wish things were different and at those times the aloneness turns to a certain sadness. That’s when I phone a friend, we talk it out and then I’m okay again for a while. Okay with these three chairs: one for me, one for my cat and one for my feet.
Of course, being a seeker I am always trying to make sense of things and always trying to learn some spiritual lesson as I move through my earthly life. When emotions like these come up and are so strong I pay particular attention and questions begin to swirl going something like this. Why am I alone at this stage in my life? Is it some Karmic payback, i.e., you reap what you sow, kind of thing? Is it simply the net result of my lifelong decisions? Is it a little of both? And mostly what is God trying to teach me in my circumstances?
Because I believe God has given us free will and he works in our lives trying to teach us even when our decisions have lead us astray I can’t discount these feelings of aloneness and sadness without careful scrutiny. Of course, only God knows what He’s trying to communicate but I’m always watchful knowing that God is always teaching a willing student. From my experience God communicates with us throughout our lives in many ways. Sometimes God uses people, sometimes happenings, sometimes song lyrics, sometimes counsel from great friends and sometimes a news article will show up on the Internet in, of all places, your go-to news source. So last Friday when I was surfing the Internet on my phone this article titled, “God may have put you in a lonely place for an incredible reason” could not be ignored. So I clicked on it and saved it. I knew there was something I needed know and maybe this article would provide a piece of the puzzle. The article began with statistics from a U.S. Loneliness Survey stating loneliness among Americans has reached “epidemic levels.” I suppose that surprised me a little. It went on to say, on a positive note, that loneliness can “cause us to seek God in a deeper way”… “inspire us to greater creativity”… “create in us a desire to serve,” and I can say without a doubt that all this is true in my case. All this is true and more.
All those things – deeper relationship with God, greater creativity and a desire to serve – have made me a better person in general but as I examined the situation more closely I came to realize that even with all those great improvements and several other immensely important improvements (i.e., personal and moral) that have been made in my life there is still this stronghold, this unwillingness to like and accept myself. This harsh judgment toward self is not how I treat my friends or even how I treat strangers and harsh judgment over perceived failures or disagreements cannot stand in a friendship. That is when it came to my mind through this “still small voice” that I know is God… Make friends with yourself… and that’s when I realized that with all my growth in so many areas I had not made friends with me and that making friends with me could only be accomplished by myself, alone.
That was a light-bulb-moment for me – make friends with yourself – and since then I’ve tried to be more kind and forgiving of myself in all my imperfection. The amazing thing is that now with this awareness I am more kind to me when I say something stupid or do something that defies common sense or when I swear or eat too much buffalo chicken dip. I look at myself now – most of the time – with a kinder eye knowing that God created me – just as I am – and who am I to question the Great Creator. He makes us the way are for a reason.
So now with all this growth and in all the near perfectness 🙂 that I possess I think it might be time to meet a friend for coffee and that friend is me.