from Rachel: (God Is Stronger than My Struggles) With Loneliness

Remember your loneliest time? What details made it particularly difficult?

“My most alone time was last August (2013) when I vacationed alone for a week, but I relished in almost every minute of it. I think the times I feel loneliest are when I’m surrounded by people, but they are already all in groups conversing. I can’t think of one particularly lonely time, though.”

[starred section] Greek scholars tell us that our English Bibles don’t translate the full weight of this verse (Hebrews 13:5). Re-written with the force of the original language intended it goes like this:

I will not, I will not, I will not let you down, leave you in the lurch, leave you destitute, leave you in straits or helpless, or abandon you.

Hebrews 13:5

What correlation do you see between Paul’s experience and places where you have struggled with loneliness?

“Aside from missing several close friends who have moved to other states, my loneliness has almost no correlation with Paul’s.”

Do you need to fortify yourself against the return of loneliness? Write about at least one action from Paul’s list you can take.

“In my aforementioned crowd-loneliness, I try to apply the last one,” where Paul considered the welfare of his friends “and find someone else who looks like she (or occasionally he) might be lonely, too, and feeling outside of all the groups. If I feel lonely today, I should do more of numbers three and four,” where he asked for his books and parchments “rather than turn on the TV or the PC or phone a friend unless it’s back to the last point.”

Dearest Rachel –

Clearly, by 2014, you were not struggling all that much with loneliness. And your way of dealing with it when you were most likely to face it (which is to say, within a crowd of unfamiliar faces) had remained unchanged since your childhood. I recall how Ellen described meeting you, back when she broke the news to her family and friends about the accident.

She came bounding up to me during intermural time one day and asked if I wanted to play a game of checkers. We played checkers on the rainy days for the rest of that year. I didn’t see her for a year while we were at separate schools. Then one day she came bounding up to me after school. “Hi, remember me?” She had to explain who she was – I’ve always been rather face-blind – but after that we did all sorts of things together and became good friends.

Note that ‘she came bounding up to me’ is repeated twice in one paragraph. Now, that’s not the Rachel that I first met, but from things that I’ve heard from other people, that’s the Rachel that most people met, both from before my time and after. I don’t know why my situation was different; perhaps that unfavorable first impression I gave you caused you to not seek my acquaintance, plus, what freshman has the right to demand the attention of an upperclassman?

But in any event, this was your typical modus operandi: you would seek out other lonely looking people, and make an effort to kill two birds with one stone by befriending them. True, it resulted in your attracting to yourself friends that sometimes would be in need of more grace and patience than most were willing or able to extend (and I am ashamed to count myself among those less than capable people), but the fact that you were both was to your credit and their benefit. You set an example we would all do well to follow, all in an effort to minimize loneliness. Would that we all could do likewise.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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