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Table for One

Reserved. The sign on the table where I sat with my immediate family at my daughter’s wedding. Once the meal was over, couples scattered to dance, laugh and have fun. And there I sat. Alone.

All around me were family and friends who had gathered for the special event, yet no one came to sit with me at the table. So instead, I inserted myself into the middle of laughter and conversations, feeling like an outsider at the event I was hosting.

Don’t get me wrong. It was wonderful to have so many people show up for my family and me, especially with my late husband’s absence so palpable. And, my heart ached terribly because I was sitting at a table by myself, watching couples hold hands, and some even slow dance at the wedding.

Nothing feels so lonely as being alone in a crowd of people. It was salt in the wound of my still grieving heart, and there was no pushing the darkness away, once it settled in.

When the day of my son’s wedding arrived two months later, I was prepared for the feeling of being a single person in a couple’s world, at a couple’s event. So I set about making sure I had people around me to mask the loneliness, and it seemed to work.

Unfortunately, this practice continued beyond the wedding. I was doing everything I could to prevent my heart from being hurt again. Everything, that is, except calling on the One who could actually guard my fragile heart.

You see I had forgotten where to place my trust. Had pushed away the One who knew deep down the extent of my pain, loneliness, and grief. The very One who had likely been seated at the lonely table with me: Jesus the Christ.

Romans 8:35-39 is a great reminder of the never-ending presence of Christ in my life.

“Who will separate us from Christ’s love? Will we be separated by trouble, or distress, or harassment, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? I am convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels nor rulers, not present things or future things, not powers, or height or depth, or any other thing that is created.”

Believe me, I did not figure this out right away. Forgot the essential teaching of my faith. Instead, I tried to fill the loneliness and lingering hurt with activities and people. Many were less than fulfilling, and were a mere distraction from the pain. Not exactly a step in the direction toward healing that was needed.

As I said, I had not really been guarding my heart and mind. King Solomon knew the importance of protecting that which we cherish, which is why he wrote the words found in Proverbs 4: 23. “More than anything you must guard and protect your mind, for life flows from it.”