I was on day nine; nine long days since I had spoken to another adult face-to-face who knew me by name (and one who I’m not married to). We had left our suburban Kansas home and flew 2,000 miles to Vancouver, British Columbia to live in the bustling inner city where I was homeschooling our three daughters in a condo filled with the landlord’s choice IKEA furnishings, surrounded by strangers from all corners of the world. It was during those days when I learned that the well of loneliness runs deep.
Those long, rainy days were filled with hours of first and second grade math, eighth grade writing projects, and ‘recess’ at the city park. I watched my daughters learn close up during writing lessons at our kitchen table, and from a distance while they made new friends on the playground monkey bars. Those days were also filled with a growing loneliness in me. No friends to stop in for a chat at the kitchen table, no late night Target runs and conversations over the ridiculous purchase of yet another seasonal candle (who can resist?), no quick coffee dates, no church family to connect with, no gym buddies, no surface-y catching up in long carpool lines, no bantering with neighbors on the sideline of the kids’ soccer games. The majority of each day was just my girls and me making sense out of a new chapter of life we never anticipated navigating.
(photo by Jena Meyerpeter, “Courage” banner by Jill Dixon)
Raising and homeschooling three chatty daughters means our home is rarely (read: never) quiet. Opinions and ideas are thrown around like confetti on New Year’s Eve. Even with their constant noise all around, my heart began to experience something new and unfamiliar: deep loneliness. It was as if the bucket of loneliness sank deeper and deeper into a well and I couldn’t see the bottom. I was lonely for familiarity and friendships, but more than that I was lonely for belonging. As the loneliness sank deeper into my spirit, my heart grew quiet. Before long this stillness also settled over my thoughts like a blanketing snowfall. It was in the stillness of those lonely days, as the depths of my well dipped farther than I’d ever experienced, I found a treasure waiting at the bottom.