I've been working on my session for our church's upcoming women's conference and dwelling on my topic A LOT these days....Loneliness. Specifically, my session is entitled "Where is God When You Are Lonely?" I find that I'm the perfect demographic for this topic...I'm an only child...still single at forty-(cough)-four years old...have a very, very small remaining biological family. But on most days, I don't feel lonely because I'm blessed in so many other ways. The creeping in of loneliness, though, occurs regularly. And, if you were honest with yourself, it does for you too, no matter your place or stage in life.
When I'm going to be speaking on a topic, I immerse myself in thinking about it so I glean anything along my path that God may want to show me. It also keeps my focus on the topic and task at hand. You may think, "Gosh, dwelling on loneliness has to be a real downer." And, I would respond that it can be, but what I've learned from Scripture and study during this preparation time helps thwart those frequent moments. I could go on in more detail, but then I wouldn't want to spill my outline before the conference.
A few weeks ago, I was buzzing around on a Saturday with 10,653 things to do. We had our office move, lunch with a friend, and other errands. The trip to the grocery store that day ended up happening around 7:30 that night. This single gal grocery shopping on a Saturday night should speak lonely I guess, but a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do. As I finished up my shopping, I stopped by the deli counter to pick up a few things and saw a smartly dressed elderly man. He had his cane in his shopping cart, along with a few essential items. He reminded me of my Dad, though he looked much older. His head was donned with a sporty newsboy cap, a light jacket and dress pants. He was quite the handsome man. He was having a conversation with the man behind the counter and I deduced that he was waiting for the next batch of chicken to finish frying. The attendant wrapped up the biggest chicken breast in the bunch, all hot out of the fryer for him to take home, with a warning that the chicken was pretty hot. The sweet man said, "Oh it'll cool down some by the time I get home and eat it."
I love to people watch. I observe them and imagine all sorts of stories about their life. This sweet man most likely lived alone. Probably a widower. And on a Saturday night he headed to the grocery to fill his small cupboards with what he needed for the week and pick up a treat for dinner...some freshly fried chicken. As I headed to the checkout, I couldn't stop thinking about this man. Week in and week out this could be his life. I wondered if he had family? Does he have friends to play cards with?...to talk with? My heart went out to him and it took all I had not to go up to him and talk to him. I realized amidst the busy life I may wear thin of at times, I am blessed to be surrounded by many who love me.
The next time I may not hold back when I see a sweet man like that and reach out and say hello. It could be the only interaction that person has that day. If you are lonely, there is probably someone just as lonely as you walking down your grocery aisle. Be aware of the world around you...someone's loneliness could bring you a blessing.