“It was a delicate business to honor the past but lean into the future, to remember the old but embrace the new, however unwanted it was.“ Jerry Sittser, A Grace Revealed: How God Redeems the Story of Your Life

Alone. It is a very good word.

I’ll never forget the evening Kim and I both stayed at a friend’s parents’ house. One evening, we stayed up long after everyone else retired to their rooms. We sat on the floor and talked. We weren’t even dating yet. But we enjoyed a one-on-one conversation. From that point on, I sought alone time with Kim. She was my focus. Alone. Getting to know each other.

Aloneness equals discovery.

Weddings are known for gathering numerous people to celebrate and witness the joining of two lives into a union. While surrounded by the masses the new couple longs to be alone. Finally, the wedding ends. Away. Alone. Secluded.

Aloneness equals oneness.

Eventually children are born, bills await payment, and responsibilities grow. Diapers. Clambering. Demanding attention. Diapers. Parents are worn out. Careers. Diapers. Exhausted.

Aloneness equals survival.

Children grow into teenagers, young adults. A new existence being established. Independence desired. Feeling their way. The dance of give and take begins—an artful skill. Parental responsibility grows in significance. The stakes are higher. And work or church or community opportunities and responsibilities increase. Varied quadrants seeking your wisdom or even your availability. Couples long for time for each other.

Aloneness equals sanity.

Graduation. Empty nest. Alone at last. Over the days, weeks, months, years, and decades the momentum builds; at every turn you are seeking to be alone. And now aloneness arrives. I recall our last trip alone to Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and Grand Teton National Park for our 35th anniversary with great joy.

Aloneness equals reward.

Alone. It can also be a very difficult word. I’ve learned.

“…we do not enter into grief. Grief enters into us.” Julie Yarbrough, Inside the Broken Heart: Grief Understanding for Widows and Widowers

Suddenly, the proverbial lightning strikes, and the definition of alone changes in an instant. Or it could be over a grueling journey into illness and loss. Death visits uninvited. Alone. For real this time. Grief enters your story. And you’re alone in a very different way.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone…a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12

How can one word be both blissful and blistering? And just when you are discovering the definition of blissful aloneness, the ultimate bait and switch is pulled off. The bliss is tauntingly exchanged for blisters. Blistering aloneness. Death—and the resulting grief and loss—introduces you to a new type of aloneness. Once you clawed after some alone time as a couple. Now you want to escape the uninvited isolation.

Alone. One word. Two very different meanings. A taunting play on a word.

There is only one way to face the taunting nature of loss and the loneliness that accompanies it. The love of Jesus is unchanging. Immutable. He never leaves us nor forsakes us. He does not leave us alone.

“…he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5

“O the deep, deep love of Jesus! Love of ev’ry love the best: ’tis an ocean vast of blessing, ’tis a haven sweet of rest.” Samuel Trevor Francis, “O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus”

Note: I have just crossed the third anniversary of Kim’s death. In mystery and providence, this “alone” cycle has begun again. Next month, many people will gather for a wedding for Amanda and me. Then, we will depart for two weeks “alone.”

8 Comments

  1. Love you guys and ever-thankful for you bringing us on your journey herein, D. Ray. And I love the Grand Prismatic Spiring image in this post—a living image of the creativity and love of our God—just like the stories of your life.

    • D. Ray Davis

      Thanks, Aaron. I love that spring in Yellowstone. What a beautiful site. Thanks for joining me on this journey.

  2. Greg Davis

    Longing to be alone = blissful.
    Languishing alone = blistering.
    Powerful word picture, D. Ray.!

    I have resisted aloneness for most of my life. I would rather be surrounded by people than by myself. I would rather talk on the phone than listen to my own thoughts. I would rather walk in the daylight than toss and turn in the night.

    But God is giving me a fresh appreciation for solitude. I don’t resist aloneness quite as much. In fact, I am beginning to treasure it knowing this truth expressed by Matt Redman…

    Never once did we ever walk alone
    Never once did He leave us on our own
    You are faithful, God, You are faithful

    Your story is an inspiring testimony of God’s faithfulness – the way He has shown His presence and His care for you in so many ways. And, now, after three years, how amazing that God has brought Amanda into your life so you can both fulfill the promise of Ecclesiastes that “two are better than one.” No more unwelcomed aloneness!

    PS Do you see any more diapers in your future? ;-)

    • D. Ray Davis

      Greg, thank you for joining in on this conversation. Go back and review my post, The Notable Distinction Between Isolation and Solitude, if you haven’t already. And thanks for including those lyrics.

      And to answer your question…Yes, there are diapers in our future but only because of the hope for more grandchildren!

  3. Randy

    Loved your story at a friend’s parents house . What a wonderful beginning !

    • D. Ray Davis

      Thanks for NOT staying up that night many years ago! I needed time to talk and get to know her better!

      And thanks ahead of time for NOT making me stick around after my March 26, 2022 wedding! We’re hitting the road for a couple weeks alone on the road.

  4. Seth Whipple

    What depth of insight. Thank you for leading us into a deeper understanding with each post.

    • D. Ray Davis

      Thank you, Seth. I appreciate your investment in my journey!

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