As I continue my look back, this one has to be included, as it is one of the entries that still, almost a year later, has some of the most hits every day on my blog, as people search Google for "loneliness" or "lonely people."
18 September, 2009
This is for all the lonely people...
Lonely people, stuck in a crowd, but lonely just the same. They are all around us... but do we see them? Do we care?
I've been kicking myself since last night because I failed to be Jesus to someone who desperately needed to see him.
My wife and I were sitting in a restaurant last night where there was only two other people eating; a couple of college kids enjoying a rare night of indulgence of eating out. I know this because in the small restaurant I could not help but overhear their conversation. The young man told his female companion how tight his budget is and how he only has so many meals on his meal plan and how he tries to eat as much as he can when he does get to eat so that it will carry him through until the next day when he gets to eat again. She commented how she has more meals on her plan but that she only has a very limited amount of money to get her through this semester, and how she needs a blow dryer but that she is afraid to spend any money at this point. The young man talked about how this meal was far more than he really could afford, but that he was just so hungry that he could not say no to the offer. They continued to speak on about coming to college and both expressed their fear and loneliness that they have battled since coming to school two weeks ago. I felt a tugging inside to go speak with them, to give them my name and number and my offer of friendship and help... but I talked myself out of it, thinking that these "kids" did not want a 50 year old friend. I left that restaurant without reaching out... and I have felt awful ever since. I failed this round. I'm going to go back down to the college campus today and see if by chance I can run into them. Slim chance, but I'll try. I won't fail if given another opportunity.
Later last night, around 9:30 I received a phone call from a woman asking about our church. She had many questions... and to brutally honest, I found myself getting annoyed at them all, thinking to myself, "did she have to call this late?"
Then she asked me, "Does your church allow black people?" I laughed without thinking about it, and said, "Of course we do!" She wanted to know if we had any black people who attended. I told her that we do, but I honestly tried not to distinguish between who was black, white, Latino... I tried to only see people. She said to me, "you laugh, but you don't understand how lonely it can feel to be a single black woman walking into a white church that really does not want me there." I felt like someone cut my heart out of my chest with that comment. My mind again flashed back to those kids in the restaurant. Both happened to be of a different ethnicity than I am, and I questioned how much more this added to their loneliness and fear. I thought back over the past few days... how many people I have seen all alone, and how many opportunities I let slip through my fingers. That young lady sitting alone in the corner of Kaldi's Coffee. The elderly man sitting alone in the back corner of McDonald's. He had even spoke to me, and I responded, but only a brief, to the point, answer. He was reaching out for conversation, and I let another opportunity slip through my grasp, because I was too busy working on my Bible study for that night. (Rather ironic, don't you think?) Sitting here today the tears are streaming down my face because I can think of a dozen or so opportunities to just reach out and be a friendly voice or ear to someone... and I failed... miserably.
God help me to learn and to do better.
God help us all.