Unlonely By Elisa Morgan
He picked up a blade of grass and then shredded it between his fingers as he looked up at me and said, "Just once, I wish I could feel truly loved before I die." I knew him better than just about any one and my heart caught in my chest. "And before you say it," he added, "I know you love me, but that's not enough." I knew he was right. He was made to be loved by more than a friend. She texted me that she'd seen a gathering of her old high school friends on Facebook, "Why wasn't I invited? It seems like everybody else was included." Her question was safe with me as I wasn't in her circle. I felt the sting in her words and the pain in her being. They curled their hands around the handles of their coffee mugs and met my eyes in unison. I looked from one face to the other as they sighed, "The kids don't seem to want to be around us anymore. We miss them so much!" Tears welled in all our eyes. And these are just three conversations from not so long ago. Recently I've started noticing just how very many souls around me express a vacant, hollow loneliness. Grandparents quarantined from the little beings who once filled their hearts. Single friends struggling to pay their bills and fill their free time. Neighbors laid off from work and stuck inside with all the time in the world on their hands. Relatives who live close by me in the same city and those far away. Loneliness is epidemic. And not just due to COVID-19, though of course the pandemic has scratched a deep crevice in the already lonely heart. Loneliness' cavernous hollow has deepened in the last few decades until today nearly half of all Americans express a severe loneliness. Are you lonely? When I ask myself this question, I quickly decide, "No, I'm not." My days are filled to over-full with writing and scheduling and recording and many creative efforts. My free spots quickly close as I offer myself over to grandkids, to friends, even to my dog who is always delighted to take me on a walk at any time of the day or night. But when I awaken in the night, chasing elusive sleep, my thoughts dig about and sometimes root down in a confusing conversation from the day before. I notice an unanswered email and feel "missed." I rehearse a chat with a friend who poured out her needs and updates but forgot to ask me about my heart. I pick up the heavy load of worry and wonder what God's up to if not fixing all the things that hurt my heart. And a kind of "lonely" emerges. Not seen. Not heard. Not known. Not loved, then? I need your help. I've recently agreed to undertake a new writing project - on loneliness. And while I know some facets of the feeling, I quickly admit that I need to learn more. From my friends and my family and my circle - from you! When do you feel lonely? Can you share your story with me so that I might learn from it and share it with others and somehow help us all be just a little bit more unlonely? Here's how to help: Email your story to firstname.lastname@example.org and add this line: Elisa Morgan has permission to use my story in her writing. I don't need to use your name. (In fact, one fun thing might be for you to change your name in your story. I always use the name "Yolanda" when ordering take out. My favorite!) Include your gender, stage of life, feelings and any other details that will help others know you and connect to your story. By sharing our stories, we can help others have insight into their own experience as well.
Elisa Morgan is the cohost of the new podcast, God Hears Her. She is also the cohost of Discover the Word and contributor to Our Daily Bread. Her latest book is When We Pray Like Jesus. Her other books include The Beauty of Broken, Hello, Beauty Full, and She Did What She Could. Connect with Elisa @elisa_morgan on Twitter, and @elisamorganauthor on Facebook and Instagram.