Sundays are usually the hardest days. After the busyness is over loneliness descends like an armed bandit threatening to steal whatever joy may be left in my heart. It’s the day I reflect in solitude on all that went wrong and why I am in this place. There is no one to blame but myself. I take small comfort in the fact that there are millions of others like me, living our solitary lives in quiet desperation. Whether we trusted the wrong people in life, went down the wrong path, or this is just a temporary life situation, I am old enough to accept it and understand that I do not have the answers. I don’t know what the future holds. I am not pessimistic. I am not optimistic. I just wait.
Busyness is how I spent most of my life. There were no margins, no white spaces, no time to reflect. I just got up every day and tackled it all with determination, strength, and sureness. Today, I am unsure, undetermined, underwhelmed, weak. What is left for me to do? What is my purpose in life? Have I just missed it and now I must hunker down on Lonely Street waiting for the Number 9 bus to take me home? Where is home, anyway?
I read. I cook. I do my chores. I watch television, play with my dogs, go to work. I pass the time on the internet or cutting the grass. I am not bitter, but I am confused. What is it that I am not getting? What is it that I am supposed to learn from this? What am I supposed to do?
I tell myself that surely this place is to teach me something. Patience? Acceptance? Punishment? Maybe it is to teach me what rest feels like. Genuine rest. A life with minimal responsibility and lots of white space. Is this what empty nests or middle-age feels like? Perhaps it is just a bit of respite before the craziness comes back around again and crushes me in its demanding grip of need.
My daughter recently posted a “Towanda” quote on her Facebook page. For those of you who have never watched Fried Green Tomatoes, it is the saying of a middle-aged housewife who gets her chutzpah back. She finds her core of bravery. I get her. I get her a lot.
I recently made a bad move. Okay, collectively there have been many over the years. It’s time to stop sticking my head in the sand and obsessing over what the hell is wrong with me. This is life, we step out and sometimes we get stepped on. I should be mature enough to understand this, right? I read motivational quotes like the rest of you. It’s the writer in me. I need for things to make sense before I can just discard them and move on.
So let me be honest here. I thought my life experiences had taught me not to make huge mistakes. I thought I was supposed to be smarter than my younger self. Turns out, I’m not any smarter than I used to be. I just have more wrinkles. I am still me and I am still following my gut instincts and thinking that somehow, someway, I am going to overcome the odds. Except in some ways, I am smarter.
Take dating for instance. This has been my most immediate short-term goal. And despite my genuine shyness, I am meeting people and have gone on a few blind dates over the last few weeks. They were nice people, just not my kind of people. I accepted this with absolutely no hand-wring or guilt. I know who I am despite being confused. Despite being unsure, underwhelmed, and feeling weak, I am not lonely enough to walk in a pair of shoes that just don’t fit.
I recently heard a sermon by Dr. Charles Stanley and something he said really resounded with me. He said that when he got restless. Really restless. It was because God was shaking up what was for what is to come.
Moses was hiding out in the back 40 of the desert a good many years, when “bam!” a burning bush. I’m guessing Moses really wasn’t expecting to ever live any other life than the one he had as a shepherd tending Jethro’s flock. He’d blown it. Done the wrong thing and was living out his life in a quiet desperation. But God hadn’t forgotten Moses, and in my loneliest time, I know that He has not forgotten me. He is good all of the time, and I believe that His compassion never fails. I do.
There is still a road to walk, a path as yet untraveled. I am just old enough now to know I must wait for the time to “move out.” To hear his voice and not my own. To stop fighting the uncomfortable process of being alone and a little unsure.
I’m going to go do the dishes now. I am then going to walk my dogs and smile at a stranger. Finally, I’m going to dust off my dreams because this simple act of confessing my vulnerability for all the world to see or judge me has gotten me out of my funk. Happy Independence Day to all of you lonely people out there.