Only the Lonely- Toya
Only the Lonely by The Motels is one of my favorite songs from the 80’s. I remember when MTV first came on and they ran this video all the time. The ending scene when the lead singer is sprawled on top of the café table singing “Only the lonely can play” is so serious.
I am almost afraid to post this because I am so not trying to depress anyone. As a matter of fact, I am in a pretty good mood. It’s just that loneliness has been a topic that has come up so many times within the past few months that I feel the need to address it. This is a real thing and we try to talk about real stuff so here it goes…
It was the night of my first benefit show. After a few months of planning and finally allowing my normally non-committal self to actually commit and follow through with something, I had successfully produced a show that some have said was the best local show they have ever seen in Nashville. My partner Mike and I pulled off something never done before in this town and thank God, it went so much better than we anticipated. It was filled to capacity, everyone had a great time, and we raised a lot of money for a cause that we had become passionate about. After the show was finished I was bombarded by some familiar and some not familiar faces telling me how proud they were of me and how my show was the show to beat this year. With all of the compliments, accomplishments and success that we achieved that night I can definitely say without a doubt that it was by far one of the loneliest moments of my entire life. Luckily, Tia was staying at my house that night. If I had gone from all of the hoopla to an empty house, I seriously think that I may have had a nervous breakdown. No joke.
As someone who is never short of company or friends to hang out with, I don’t entirely understand the monster that is loneliness. Someone had to actually tell me that I was lonely. I remember explaining to a pastor at our church once that I had this heaviness at times that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. He looked at me squarely and said, “You’re lonely.” I denied it at first. Not trying to be conceited, but I was surrounded by quite a few people who genuinely loved me so this lonely business made no sense. But the more we talked the more I realized that loneliness was the heaviness. It seems that the busier I get, the more popular I get, and the more expectations are placed on me, the lonelier I get. It makes me want to hide in a corner somewhere and sleep for an eternity. The only way I can describe the feeling is that it sometimes seems like there is a core center in my heart that no one has been able to get to even though I have the best friends anyone could ever ask for. To be honest, while a hunky husband to share that evening with would have been nice I am not entirely convinced that that is what was missing. I don’t doubt that wanting to be in an intimate relationship with my best friend and life partner is part of the pain I sometimes deal with but it seems to go a little deeper than that. Loneliness is not just for single people either. I have a friend who has a great marriage, a wonderful family and is battling loneliness right now. While talking one evening she disclosed, “I’ve been dealing with it ever since my daughter was born. At first I thought it was postpartum but it’s been two years. Sometimes I just feel like I am all alone.” Like I said, it’s a monster.
I believe that people handle loneliness in different ways. Some try to fill the void by being people pleasers engrossed in co-dependent relationships. Yup, been there, done that, and have since had my name taken off the email list. No thanks. Some people further isolate themselves knowing that while they are lonely, casual, surface relationships will only make them more empty. My brother told me once that that is how he has dealt with it at times. “If I am going to be lonely, I might as well be alone. No use in being around people and sit there still feeling lonely” he once confessed. Truthfully, I don’t know what’s worse.
The morning after the show, Tia and I were in church and during praise and worship, we were all standing and singing a song about Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Then something occurred to me: Jesus was constantly surrounded by people. He had 12 dudes that he constantly rolled with. He knew that he was born to die and yet seemed to have it all together. I am not saying that no one asked him this but do you think that at any point any of the disciples turned to him and said, “Hey, are you alright? I mean, with this dying thing. You are constantly giving to others. We know you miss your father because you get up at the butt crack of dawn to talk to him every single day. How are YOU doing?” And even if they asked these questions, could they really even take the answer? Jesus longed for the approval and the companionship of his Father and deep down so do I. I remember going to bed earlier that morning and asking God ”I know everyone else liked the show but what did you think about it? Were you pleased with it?” There is no way that the disciples could identify with the loneliness Jesus felt because they had never experienced what he had and that was constant companionship with God. It was after I thought this that Hebrews 4:15-16 came to mind:
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way just as we are-without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Growing up in church I often heard that I should take my problems to Jesus because He cares and can fix them but I don’t think I quite grasped the knowledge that I can take my loneliness to Him because He truly understands it. When I realized this that Sunday, I cried so hard while we were singing that Tia had to hold me up. I think part of the pain of loneliness comes from feeling as if you are not understood. I was overwhelmed that I was loved by someone that really understands AND can help me. I see Jesus and my need for a relationship with Him differently now. Maybe this is what I needed to realize for me to let Him get to that core center of my heart.