December 12, 2021
Best Medicine for Loneliness
Kind friends often express concern for me by saying, “I know you have missed Dean this year.” Those caring words remind me of the loneliness I have endured during my first year without Dean. They also remind me how, by the grace of God, I have not allowed myself to become a victim of loneliness.
Loneliness rears its ugly head daily in my life. Each morning it says, “Walter, you are alone now. It’s alright to feel sad. You have no one to enjoy breakfast with, and your little dog, Buddy, does not like scrambled eggs or sausage. So feel free to have a pity party as you begin another lonely day.”
Thus far I have refused the offer to feel sorry for myself. I tell loneliness to get lost, that it is not welcome in my house or my heart. Loneliness is a disease. It can kill you, but it is not incurable, and I have found the medicine that prevents it from terminating my life.
I remind myself that I am not the only lonely person in the world. Loneliness is a universal difficulty, and a growing problem in America. And surprisingly, nowadays younger generations are more likely to experience it. A recent Barna study revealed that 19% of Boomers feel lonely sometime every day, 33% of Gen X, and 46% of Millennials.
While most of us are obsessed with the danger of Covid-19, loneliness is yet another threat to human life. So much so, that Susan Mettes has published a book titled The Loneliness Epidemic, in which she offers ideas for ministering to the lonely. I have not read the book but I hear that it is helpful. Right now, my medicine is working well in treating my loneliness.
When tempted to cry about my wife’s passing, I remind myself that God allowed me to know Dean for 82 years; we met at age 6 in the first grade classroom. God allowed us to be married for 68 and a half years. Many couples do not enjoy that many years.
Instead of succumbing to loneliness, I think about some of the wonderful gifts Dean possessed. She could find flowers in the yard, even in a ditch by the roadside, and make a beautiful table decoration for a holiday meal. She could make a can of Spam taste like a beef roast. She could buy a used slipcover and make an old sofa look like new.
When I was certain there was no food in the house, she found a way to come up with a meal. She could light a bunch of candles and make our home feel like a sanctuary. She never once complained that I could not buy her expensive clothes; she could dress up beautifully with clothes she bought for eight dollars at a thrift store. She used a fifty-dollar Singer Sewing Machine and made clothes for our boys until they began begging for Izod stuff.
She could take a dollar and bless my socks off at Christmas; one of my most precious gifts was a little plaque with two rabbits on it hugging, with these words beside the rabbits – “We Need Each Other.” Talk about Christmas good tidings! After Dean’s death, I realized that while I spent my life preaching about living to honor Christ, Dean was modeling a life that honored Christ. And she constantly inspired me to “do my best” when I was preaching about “our Lord Jesus.”
God loaned Dean one of His special gifts – how to make something out of nothing! And wonder of wonders, God allowed me to be married to that special lady for nearly 70 years!
Yes, loneliness is a problem. I miss Dean every day. But with the right medicine, loneliness is not insurmountable. It cannot withstand the healing power of grace, gumption and the right group of precious memories! + + +