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Embracing Aloneness

Once we got home from the hospital last week, I noticed just how many tweets/Facebook updates I sent during our short 24 hours there.

Hospitals are lonely places these days. They are always lonely, but especially now thanks to the H1N1 virus. Our hospital currently prohibits all visitors. Each patient is allowed to place just four people on an approved-caregivers list, and only two may be present in a room at any one time. You can’t change the people on the list. At a recent meeting at the hospital, parents wept openly as they talked about how painfully isolated they were. They would not leave their child (and should not for many reasons), so they could not see the rest of their family.

Thanks to the internet, web cams, and phones, we can reach out through fiber optics and cellular technology. We read and write blog posts. We interact through Twitter, Facebook, email, video, and text messages. We try to remind ourselves through technology that we are not actually alone.

But technology is also a great way to hide from God.

The truth is, while I have experienced divine grace and strength in the midst of terrifying and overwhelming circumstances, I cannot forget the human part of those experiences. God has allowed some incredibly difficult things into our lives.

Every time Ellie got sick or needed a procedure, I wondered “Is this It? The last one?”

And then, one day, it was.

You would think that, having experienced God’s grace in the midst of pain and loss, it would be easier to trust, easier to step forward into the unknown. Maybe it’s because the pain is still so fresh, so raw, but I’ll be honest. I am afraid of the next hard thing. I struggle to trust that God is really at work in our lives for our good and his glory.

Being at the hospital brings those fears to the surface. Instead of facing them, I tend to drown out the nay-saying in my head with conversations with others.

Instead of talking to God about my fears, I talk to friends

Instead of taking comfort in God’s words, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you,” I lash out, “I don’t want your company. I want relief. Don’t walk through it with me — get me out of it.”

But, for God’s reasons that I won’t ever understand, we all must walk painful lonely roads some day. We all have to learn by experiencing it, not just reading it or hearing it, that we are never alone if we are one of his.

Have you ever noticed that when you are going through a tough time, the best comfort comes from those who have been there? By going through pain ourselves, not only do we learn more about trusting God, but we learn how to encourage and comfort others when they find themselves there.

I think perhaps God allows us to be physically alone to help us grasp how completely not alone we truly are.

I need to learn to turn off the distractions and embrace that experience. Embrace him.

This post is part of “Tuesdays Unwrapped,” hosted by Chatting at the Sky.

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