The Gift of Loneliness



Ten months after my son was born, I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. At the time, I was heavily involved in my church. I served in leadership, ran a cell group in my home and worked in our community outreach.

My depression ate at me. The more I tried to ignore it, the more it consumed my life. Along with my depression, I dealt with anxiety, which made any step forward feel paralyzing.

Life started to happen: my toddler refused to go to the nursery, my son’s hockey began to occupy our weekends, and the next thing I knew, it was months since I had stepped foot in the building I had called home. I left my church.

What surprised and conflicted me was that I did not miss it. My lack of feeling gave me all the feelings. Guilt and shame were at the top.

God was quiet and, as my sickness took its full grip on me, I even wished my life would end. It was as if the story of my life had been ripped down the middle and I mourned the person I was.

So I began walking through life numb. I was there for my kids and my family the best I could be, but I wished for an eraser. I withdrew from life. Cancelled invitations to social outings, dropped out of groups. It was actually pretty easy to do.

Then, a year ago, beautiful Florence went to heaven. Michaela has told her story to the world and we are all better for it. As part of the SheLoves community, we were there for her. We grieved Florence.

For the first time in a long time, I felt awakened.

I could not help but think about how Florence fought so bravely through life, despite her condition.

I thought about how I had surrendered.

I put my hand up to help with Florence’s Celebration of Life. I had no idea what I was doing, or what that kind of service would even look like for a three-year-old girl, but I poured my heart into it.

This was a big deal for me. I am an introvert and I had withdrawn from society during my depression. Even on good days I would rather be at home nesting. But here, I was ripping off a band-aid and putting myself right out there. I had to deal with my anxiety and focus on something much bigger than me. I am so glad I did.

During Flo’s beautiful celebration, I will never forget the Bible passage shared. In Mark 5: 39-42 Jesus resurrects a twelve-year-old girl who had passed away. He spoke to her, “Talitha koum!” (Little girl, I say to you, get up!) The speaker spoke of how on earth Flo was not healed, but on the morning she went to Heaven, Jesus took her hand and said “Florence, talitha koum!”

In the moment I heard those words everything broke in me. It felt like a veil ripped in two. I saw Florence running in Heaven, and I wept.

But I also saw Jesus’ hand stretched out to me. “Talitha koum!”

Florence’s story broke my heart, but it also changed my life. A three-year-old girl who never walked, and barely spoke a word, had a life-changing impact on my world. Never underestimate what God can do with a life. She is my hero and I will always love her.

Things began to change slowly after that day. I hear about these miraculous God transformations, but my relationship with God  seems more like a crock pot. On very low heat.

What I did notice after Flo’s celebration was I had a flicker of hope. So I let it burn.

A few months ago, I did have a miracle. I was sitting on my couch sipping coffee and I felt it. It really surprised me, because I hadn’t realized it was missing.

I was lonely.

For me, loneliness was a gift. In my years of depression, I wasn’t once lonely. I just wanted to be busy with homeschooling my boys, activities, life. It was easy to disconnect.

But now, I wanted to be around people. I missed fellowship at church, I missed opening my home to dinner parties. I wanted to be with my friends.

So I picked up my phone and invited some friends over. Then, on Sunday morning, I got up and went to church and fellowshipped. No panic attacks. No fear.

For anyone wandering in the desert, maybe you have given up. Jesus is telling you “Talitha koum!” Little girl, I say to you, get up.

May Jesus resurrect your life.