Look Up, Not In

If you know me even slightly, I bet you know that I am an only child. And if not, welcome to “The Natalie Show!” I think once I wore it as a badge of some kind, that I was good at alone. I was good at being the lonely only. Solo. Uno. One. I think you get the point. As my life has changed, I got married and proceeded to have a million kids, so I now find myself constantly surrounded by people. Never alone. Lonely. Solo. I’m usually with a party of seven. No bill under $75, no matter where we eat, unless it has a drive-thru, and even so…some days, McDonald’s wins. What I’m getting at is that rarely do I feel alone anymore. Lonely. And then, days like yesterday happen. 

I’m coming off a pretty anxious week, to be honest. To summarize, my youngest kids are in preschool for three hours a day, so I’ve somehow managed to convince myself that I’m useless and empty. Needless to say, when my hairdresser said she had an opening on Saturday at 11, I jumped at the slot. I also canceled my appointment in my head and out loud to my husband about once a day, not excluding THE day of the appointment, which I arrived 30 minutes late to. And that’s my week. And now that I’ve relocated, my hair appointment is an hour away and well worth the drive because not only is she an amazing talent with these luscious locks, but she’s a good friend, so it’s “hairapy.” Ya dig? 

But that drive leaves me by myself for 60 minutes. Some might say those minutes should be inhaled and exhaled due to the lack of alone time I get. But I’ll be honest, that loneliness is where a lot of the fear and anxiety well up and begin to overflow. The first call I make goes to voicemail. Second…no answer. Anxiety and panic well up. Should I call home? What if I crash and Elliot has to raise the kids alone? Would he remarry? Will the twins remember me? What if the kids get hurt on the new swing set while I’m gone and Elliot has to rush them to the hospital and I’m not there? Does he have the insurance card? Should I just go home?

Wowser, y’all. That is real deal the things that go down in my head when I’m alone. Which is why I hate it so much.

But in that moment, I recognize the creeping horrible feeling, and I give it a name. The devil. That’s when my loneliness ends and my worship ride begins. I unmute the radio, and KLove is always the first thing on the radio dial in any car at my house. The song I so desperately need to hear rings out from the speakers and coaxes me into song. I sing loud to the heavens and pray and cry and fill up my cup. 

When my oldest daughter was born, I thought I would never be alone again. But that wasn’t true. It wasn’t true when my second came or when I got married or when my third child was born. My loneliness ended six years ago when I was baptized and accepted Jesus into my heart and life. Washed. Clean. There was nothing like it that I had ever felt before in all my years.

If you’re out there in the world looking for your happiness or your purpose, chasing some vision of what the world or your family or YOU place on yourself and looking within to find it, I’ll tell you…you’re looking in the wrong direction. You’ll never find what you’re looking for until you look up. 

Reality Changing Observations:

1. What is your relationship to solitude? To loneliness?

2. When have you felt (or, do you feel) most lonely?

3. What do you think of the idea that Jesus cares about and enters into our lonely places?

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