All Alone — Really???
by Lois Donahue
Perhaps some of you, like me, have thought about, or possibly experienced, what it would be like to be all alone. Oh, I don’t mean being terrifyingly alone as if two days ago you’d been the only survivor of a plane crash in a remote part of the Rain Forest and as yet there has been no sign of a rescue party.
Nor do I mean the kind of being alone that is self-imposed in that you make the free decision that you want or need some time to be alone. And for sure I am not even considering any long term, traumatic bout with ‘aloneness’ which would call for professional help. No, I mean the very human, usually short term, but still depressing sense most all of us get on occasion of seeming to be absolutely, completely alone — even sometimes, strangely enough, when there are actually people around us. Often, too, it happens when we are tired or ill or feel unloved and neglected — when we are certain no one will understand — when the people we want to be there – we need to be there – we think should be there — just aren’t.
At times like this, in an effort to overcome such a negative feeling, hopefully we will turn to our Catholic faith and try remembering all the positive things we’ve been taught and truly believe – in particular the wonderful truth that no matter how often or for how long we feel alone – we can never actually be alone because God, who never makes a promise he doesn’t keep, has promised He will always be with each one of us.
But just suppose, in spite of the fact that we DO remember and DO believe this truth, we still aren’t able to completely dispel our sense of loneliness – our need for ‘someone’. Possibly because we never think of God as ‘that kind’ of someone. Or, maybe it could be that we have been unknowingly reluctant to allow God, if He so wills, to be to us and for us more or even in some way different than how we now image and define Him in our own hearts and minds.
I say ‘allow’ because God will not force Himself upon us anymore than He will force upon us how to think or believe or act. He has given us free-will to chose. Consequently, we will be the ones to determine to what extent we will come to discover and respond to Him as a loving, personal, just and ever-present ‘someone’ whom both Scripture and our Church tell us does exist.
How that determination happens will differ with each of us but it will no doubt be the result of our wanting and praying and learning. Whatever the mix and whatever our time-frame of persistence we can be sure that we will ultimately come to know the God who is not only the ‘I’ – who ‘will be with us always’ but the one who will help and will guide and will care.
I must emphasize again that this whole ‘happening’ will be something very personal for each of us and we must accept the fact it won’t be like our human experience of intimate presence – no hugs, no kisses, no audible whispers of caring. Also, in spite of the fact that we have the best of intentions, but because we are oh-so-human and the devil is oh-so-determined, we will very likely forget God now and then, take Him for granted, become distracted, get our priorities out of whack and, yes, even be inclined to feel alone at times.
But what we must do each time such things happen is to nudge our ‘believing and knowing’ back where they belong and little by little there will be less need for the nudging and less despondent loneliness. Also we must keep in touch – talk to God, with or without words, let Him talk to us or simply just think about Him being there.
However, what we must not do is become discouraged. He knows what obstacles we might have to face, what crosses we might have to bear and what weaknesses come with our humanity.
We need to assure ourselves by asking the rhetorical question — “who would be more capable of understanding me and more willing to do so, when He knows I am trying so hard, than the loving God who chose to specifically create ‘me’?” Nice thing to know isn’t it.
Something else nice to know are God’s own words — “seek and you will find” — ‘nice’ because they are words of both invitation and promise. He is inviting us to truly seek Him and promising that if we do, we will surely find Him.
And God never makes a promise He doesn’t keep.
HAPPY NEW YEAR