Saturday, September 7, 2013

Life Lessons from Dr. Seuss: All Alone!

All alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
You’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on
From Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Setting off on journeys can be exciting. And terrifying.
And isolating.

When you’re venturing into unknown territory, whether it’s going back to school or moving to a new duty station or starting a new job or having a new baby, you will feel alone. Like you are the only person who has ever traveled this path.

But you don’t have to be alone.
It’s not even good to be alone.
In fact, we need each other more than ever when we’ve started off on unknown journeys.

King Solomon wrote:
Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor:  If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.  Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?  Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12) 

I used to spend a lot of time alone. I still do, I think.
In fact, as much as I love my friends and family, alone is sort of my default place.
I don’t ask questions. I don’t ask for help. I try to figure things out on my own.

I’m pretty good at that, but not good enough, and that creates problems that could easily be avoided if I just had people in my life.

And yet I’m learning.

Back when I was in my 30s, I had a surprise pregnancy. This would have been my fourth child, and Duane and I had only planned on having three children.  Nevertheless, after the shock, we were super excited about having another baby. We didn’t expect any problems. My previous three pregnancies were textbook. And then, after 14 weeks, there was no heartbeat. The baby had died.

I was devastated. I had no close friends to turn to, and I didn’t know anyone who had walked through this. My husband did not understand my sorrow. My kids were too young to talk to about the depth of my loss.

I felt alone.

God, in His mercy, sent me a couple of women who listened. I didn’t know them well, but they had experienced their own pregnancy losses. This was good. But for the most part I was still alone.

And then, surprise, one week after my fortieth birthday, I found out I was pregnant again.

Once again, I was shocked. Once again, I recovered from the shock and became excited about the new life inside of me. Once again, I miscarried at the end of the first trimester.

I wanted to die.
But this time was different.
Alone the way, I had started forming friendships. Not just casual friendships, but deep spiritual friendships. And God used these friendships to comfort me, to encourage me, to strengthen me.

This time I had the kind of friends who pray with each other, hug each other, cry with each other, laugh and celebrate with each other. The kinds of friends who take care of each other when one of them walks through something that seems impossible.

My sorrow was deep. I still struggled. But this time I was not alone. This time was different.

It sounds cliché, but I formed these friends in small group Bible studies, around dinner tables, and across cups of coffee.  It took time.  Time outside of group.
Sometimes there were conflicts. But we cared enough to work things out.
And I wouldn’t trade these friendships for anything.

Yes, we need each other. To pick each other up when we fall down, when we struggle with new challenges. To keep each other warm, to comfort and encourage one another when we begin to doubt ourselves. To protect each other when we face difficulties.

For more Life Lessons from Dr. Seuss, check out Newbreak Church's sermon series titled Whoville.

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