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.”
My life had gotten a bit off track. The things I was prioritizing were setting the trajectory of my life, and it was not necessarily the way of Christ. All of this happened because I had chosen to address my reopened wound of grief with things other than prayer, and intentional work on facing my emotions.
In fact, it had gone unnoticed by me until I was called out by a dear friend. She had been watching me crash and burn from the sidelines. I am grateful for this loving intervention, for it helped to get me back on track.
So I am taking stock of how I have been spending my time. Solitary evenings with a book are better than having a drink at the bar with an acquaintance.
Saying “yes” to invitations to go out must be scrutinized in order to discern the motivation for going. It’s okay to have fun. It’s okay to spend time with others.
What is not okay is the reason for doing so. If the choice is made in order to cover up the difficult things in my life, then it really does not benefit me.
The thing is, I know this. I live this. And yet, like anyone who loses focus on the things that are truly important, I had gotten off-track, and I needed to refocus. I needed to be okay with a table for one.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT
Have you taken a look at how you are spending your time, and with whom? Does it bring you into a deeper walk with the Creator, or does it seem to push you further off track?
What do you need to do to refocus on that which really brings you an abundant life? Is there a close friend or family member who is trying to help you with this? Will you choose to listen and readjust, or will you disregard their wise correction?
Your answer is telling. If you are choosing to readjust, then you are likely not too far from the Lord; the One who wants you to live your most abundant life.
Remember the wise words from the Apostle Paul in Romans 8 (see above). Even sabotage of our own lives is not enough to push Christ away from our presence. Christ will be there whenever we choose to realign our lives in Christ’s direction.
Creator God, thank You for always being there for me, even when I stray from Your presence. Guide me to discern the path that will bring me an abundant life. Put people in my life that will show me the way to You. I praise You and Your never-ending presence. Amen.
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