Saturday, November 10


We're enduring some angst over here. A certain 8 year old couldn't be coaxed out of bed on Thursday morning until 10 minutes before it was time to get out of bed. I'd tried everything short of freaking out when I finally sat down and held him. Time to spill the beans, what's up?! He sobbed that he didn't feel like he fits in. My heart broke for him. I was very surprised because he'd just been at his buddy's birthday party the previous day having a great time with many kids who enjoy his company. He has some really nice friends here but when some of them make new friends, he's the comfy "old friend" and feels real lonely.

His other reasons were related to some rough play at recess break he's trying to avoid and some German homework that didn't get finished. He's a pretty sensitive kid. I cheered him up enough to get him out of bed and on his way with a special little note in his lunch. He was in my thoughts all day and I couldn't wait to hear how the day turned out. It was a mixed bag - the day was okay except that some kids made comments about him not finishing his homework which caused the teacher to then dwell on it. He hates being put on the spot like that and I know I probably would have broke down in tears of mortification if it'd been me. He's still smarting from an incident last year where he got a tongue lashing from his teacher because his German wasn't up to her expectations of him. I knew this teacher was going through some personal stuff and may have boiled over on him more than she'd meant to. Anyhow, he made it through the day and his "warm fuzzy" shared at dinner was my note in his lunch.

Well, this morning he was to spend the day at a Stake Primary Activity. When he realized we would be dropping him off to stay by himself he cried for at least two hours straight that he didn't want to go and be alone. Ugh! I love activities like this, it was hard for me to relate with his fears because I like meeting new people in that setting. I know this isn't the case for most people, but did it really warrant TWO HOURS of crying?!!

Ryan and I tried everything we could think of to calm him down and bill it as the fun activity with friends that it was, but he stubbornly refused to brighten his attitude. Twenty minutes before leaving, Ryan was finally able to reason with him. I'm thinking our boy might have just needed a good cleansing cry too. I totally have those now and then! Either way, he came out and apologized and said he knows it's okay to be afraid but not to cry about it for two hours like that. Phew! And off we went! Five hours later, he was all smiles, literally flying a kite he'd made, said he'd made new friends, and danced his heart out at their kid disco! Who's kid is this?!

Loneliness is one of those hard things to endure in various seasons of life. I'm pretty sure it's a universal experience by all of humanity. I remember feeling it intensely as a child, as a teen (even in a family with a lot of kids no less!), as a college student, a working gal out on my own, and even now and then in this stage of being a wife and mother. Having been blessed to make friends easily and now most of all to have a husband and children, you'd think the lonely bug couldn't reside here. But friends and family can't always fill the void you feel deep down at times for various reasons. Sometimes this void feels downright paralyzing. That lonely void has felt different through the seasons I've grown through so far.

And each time I have to relearn what to do with it - how to climb out? I liked the imagery in that recent Elder Maxwell talk I'm studying. He talks about how we sometimes let our burdens allow us to become "mired in" the "ooze" or "swamp of self-pity." It's no party to say the least! For me, the answer has been a return to the basics of a reliance on the gospel of Jesus Christ. Clinging to it as my buoy. I think it may sound trite to some, but I've learned over the years that it is the heart of the matter for me. Maxwell's talk reminded me of this - "the great question -- whether there really is a rescuing and redeeming Christ." "It is by the power of the Holy Ghost that we know that Jesus is the Christ, that he lived and lives."

I vividly remember a powerful time of extreme loneliness and pain. I had just begun my senior year in college with a rough start. My embarrassing, fresh diagnosis of ulcerative colitis was exhibiting itself in full force but had a new symptom. I now had an open, oozing, growing lesion on my left shin - in one week it had gone from the size of a quarter to the almost the size of my flat hand. This lesion looked like raw hamburger. It was so painful I couldn't walk on it or attend any classes for two months. The pain often woke me up and kept me up all night. The medicine to stop it's growth made my head buzz and also stole sleep from me while the meds to manage the pain made me sleepy. I was a real mess! My roommate had moved into the other room, it was a bit traumatic for us all I think.

There I lay one night in exquisite pain, tears of loneliness freely flowing. I felt ugly - puffy faced from the high dose of steroids in my system, a disfigured leg and a bad recent short haircut. I was low. My future seemed very uncertain and I was mourning the loss of my health. I was very depressed and far from the comfort of my family.

In agony and prayers for relief, a scripture in the Book of Mormon came clearly to my mind - 1 Nephi 11:16. "Knowest thou the condescension of God?" At first I was wondering why of all things this random scripture came to mind. But then I realized it spoke to my understanding of our Savior's life and ministry, of how Jesus had born all things we would endure here through his Atonement for us. He endured so much in his short time on earth. Words can not adequately describe the imagery and understanding I felt at that time. And then for a time my mind was quieted and I felt as if I was being held in someone's arms. The pain of my leg didn't go away, but I knew I wasn't bearing it alone and that meant everything to me. The Comforter was real. I felt able to let go of my fears.

Buoyed up by this feeling, I felt I could face another 10 minutes, another hour, another difficult day.

Over the years, quiet moments like this spent really thinking about what I believe or listening to peaceful, inspired music seem to be my antidotes to the dark, lonely void. They don't nip it in the bud, but they make it bearable and connect me with my Heavenly Father, my Savior and the Comforter. Looking for opportunities to be thoughtful and serve others also helps me endure sometimes.

I am sure life's got some good curve balls in store for me yet. I'm glad I got the chance to organize my thoughts here to share with my sensitive little guy. Hopefully we can figure out what works for him when the lonely bug bites, for his journey has just begun and there's bound to be a swarm now and then along the way.