I remember when I first dared to ask my mother, “Mom, you live such a lonely life. Don’t you ever want to divorce Dad?”
She paused for a minute, obviously taken off guard by the bluntness of her young daughter’s question. But then she responded very deliberately and lovingly, “Sure, Jeanne, I have for a long time. But I won’t.”
My mom, although not a Christian, knew the serious consequences of allowing loneliness, even the most aching loneliness, to make decisions in her life. Years later, after she had accepted Christ, I thanked her for her unselfish handling of her loneliness. She certainly could have bailed out. After all, for years my father had done very little emotional need meeting. He was a poor listener. The only times I remember him being much of a companion to my mother was when he was drunk. My mom knew that a woman of integrity had to deal with the crippling pain of extended loneliness. A woman either handles loneliness or loneliness handles her.
Many years have passed since that memorable conversation with my mom in our kitchen. As a pastor’s wife and woman in the ministry for nearly four decades, I understand the paralyzing impact of loneliness like I never dreamed possible and I have had to develop my own means of coping with loneliness. Apart from that, I question that my personal life and ministry would be what the Lord has allowed it to become.
In the next few blogs, I’ll share some strategies that I’ve learned that helped me turn, “Loneliness Into Aloneness.”