Have you ever felt alone? I don’t mean you’re home by yourself and you’re alone, but the kind of alone where you can be surrounded by people (like adults or little people, depending on your situation) but still feel isolated. You just don’t quite fit in any of the boxes and you find yourself wandering on the outskirts, just at the edge of the dark. You weave in and out of the crowd, make small talk along the way, but realize that you’ve put on a mask for the world to see and perhaps no one sees what you look like underneath it all.
I’m learning that on this journey of mommyhood it’s far too easy to fall into this trap of loneliness. We worry that we’re messing up, that we aren’t disciplining our children correctly, that they eat too much junk food, that they watch too much tv, that we don’t do enough crafts, that the house isn’t clean enough, on and on and on. We compare ourselves to what we think we see in other moms, forgetting that we often perceive things to be very different from what they actually are. We don’t want people to know what really goes on in our homes, so we put up a good front- so good, in fact, that we fool even ourselves. But, in the midst of our masquerade, there is always One who cannot be fooled. There is One who sees all and knows all- even those thoughts and feelings we keep to ourselves.
In a rare moment alone, I found myself listening to a sermon on love, and totally convicted of all the ways I fall short in demonstrating such love to my family on a daily basis. (You know, love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy… it is not easily angered- not exactly the picture of love I’ve been painting these days!) As I was praying, the Lord revealed to me the masquerade of mommyhood- within the walls of my home, I’m less than patient and kind, I catch myself being jealous of what I see others doing, and heaven knows I can get angry when the bickering amongst siblings begins! Yet that’s not what I want people to see. So we dress nice and smile and say everything is good when someone asks, and I bow my head in humiliation when my children throw a fit in public, or when someone shows up unannounced and sees the mess in my home.
And where does that get me? Into the land of the lonely. Feeling like I don’t measure up, that no one gets it, that I’m all by myself on this journey. Now, granted, a lot of times I am by myself- with a husband who travels a lot and one daughter with anxiety and OCD and another daughter with special needs, I can be a bit isolated. But the loneliness is amplified when I try to pretend that everything is nice and happy and “normal” all the time.
However, the Lord led me to His Word- specifically to Psalm 139:1-10…
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue You, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and You lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your Presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
You see, even when I feel at my lowest, when I feel I am completely alone and no one understands, I’m wrong. There is always One who is with me, always One who understands. He knows me intricately. He knows my moves, He knows my thoughts, He knows my words. He knows every detail about my being, knows every detail of what I’m facing, and He understands me better than I do- because He knows not only where I am and what I’m doing, but what is to come in my story. Wherever I go, He is there. He’s with me on the mountaintop, He’s with me in the sludge of the valley, and He’s with me on the journey in between.
So, goodbye loneliness, goodbye masquerades… What joy there is in knowing that wherever this journey leads me, I have One with me who refuses to leave my side, who refuses to leave me alone, who refuses to give up on me. He knows me- the real me- and loves me like no other.