A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Alone But Not Lonely

Well, it's day 3,867 of our quarantine due to Coronavirus (or it only feels like it!). I don't know if I'm going to be publishing this post, but being alone with my thoughts means that I need to write down what I am thinking about, at least.

There was a moment in the most recent Little Women adaptation that hit me right in the feels. Jo March refuses to marry Laurie, her best friend of many years. After traveling to New York from her Massachusetts home, and then returning and losing her sister Beth (it's not a spoiler alert if the book has been out for 150+ years, right?), Jo is reconsidering. Should she marry Laurie? He's a good man and a good friend. In a scene with her mother, Jo talks about knowing that she doesn't "need" a man, but she's still just so lonely.

I do not know if I am more or less selfish than the average person, but I do know that I think about myself and my own concerns a fair amount. As I've previously blogged, I do know what it's like to feel lonely and want to be loved, which is why I identified with this scene so much. I'm also someone who spends a fair bit of time wallowing, rather than doing anything about it. I do want to be loved, and sometimes I ache for it. In the immortal words of SmashMouth, sometimes I really wish that someone "loved me for me," and not because they were "required to" by already being related to me. That sentiment betrays my privilege - I am super lucky and blessed to have a very loving set of parents, siblings, and in-laws who care about me.

Of course, the way I deal with these feelings is to ignore them and not talk to anyone about it (super healthy, yes, I know). Post-traditional singles ward, I spent some time in a "mid-singles" ward for singles older than 31, but right now I am in a "family" ward full of people who are mostly in different life circumstances than I am. This doesn't always bother me, but sometimes I feel my "outlier" status.

It was a sucker punch to the gut last week when I received an email message from my Stake President that they were advising that no one take the sacrament to people outside their home for the next few weeks. I know it wasn't meant this way, but it felt like a flashing red sign that I don't "belong" in the church. It made me feel like I wasn't important or necessary to the church's functions, and it didn't matter if I couldn't have the sacrament. Obviously the majority of people in our stake live with someone who can bless the sacrament for them, and I'm glad that's the case. I also understand the reasoning behind the request - I don't want to endanger anyone and give them Coronavirus. Ironically, I had decided that I would not ask my ministering brothers to come that week, because they had come last week, but I was still upset about the mandate.

When I'm at my most bitter, moments like that make me question whether I'll show up to Heaven only to find a "Married People Only" sign (of course, there are plenty of other reasons I wouldn't make it to heaven, ha ha). Our church is devoted to marriage and kids, and it makes me feel less than others sometimes. Even though I believe it isn't deliberate or intentional, I can't help feeling so alone because of this.

As a single person who lives by herself, I do spend a lot of time alone normally, but Coronavirus obviously means that is multiplied by a factor of 1,000. Now that I'm working from home full time, I can go days without talking face to face with another person (other than brief hellos from fellow dog walking neighbors). Because of that, I've been thinking about this Mary Chapin Carpenter song, Alone But Not Lonely. I don't know how to be alone but not lonely - it's not something that comes easy to me.

One of our Mormon hymns ends with a prayer that resonates with me - I hope I can have the faith to walk the "lonely road" even if it is hard. And sometimes it is very hard.

O, Give me thy sweet Spirit still,
The peace that comes alone from thee,
The faith to walk the lonely road
That leads to thine eternity.
(My Redeemer Lives, Hymn #135 in current Hymbook)

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