Watching my parents fight cancer for two years forced me to consider what life would be like without them. Talking to my single friends about their loneliness puts a sad ping in my stomach. Seeing my girlfriend worry about her widowed mother, I panic a little on her behalf. Watching a military wife while her husband is deployed, newly empty nesters after their children leave, and a couple whose parents have all passed on makes me rethink the word lonely.
The thing is, like so many others, I do okay on my own. I know I’m never really alone. Jesus is always here, and the Holy Spirit resides inside me.
However, if something happened to my husband, I would be without. When my children started moving out, I felt without. Since my dad passed away, I feel his absence—I feel without.
I watch men and women in their moments of without, just as we all do. I see them long for someone with whom they can laugh and cry. I see them get into their cars and go home to empty houses, without their soul mates. I hear the longing in their voices when they talk about the good old days with children and as children. They carry their moments as memories, always reliving them, trying not to forget.
Being without is a tough way to live. Have you ever challenged yourself to go without something? Our family has. Cable television, soda, certain foods, borrowing books at the library instead of buying them. We have gone without in several larger areas of our lives, too, and yet we have rarely gone without one another. We have routines, semi-set schedules. We don’t go without one another long enough for it to hurt.
But what happens when we arrive in that place? We will all arrive there one day—that place where we feel without. Children moving to their own homes. Parents inevitably passing on. The loss of a spouse. We will have to stay behind, giving ourselves to our families and friends. We will shoulder the burdens of everything we once shared with the ones we love. We will never be alone; we will simply be without.
Without the hand to hold, the someone we shared laughter and tears with, we will have to learn in our hearts how to live a new way, a freedom we didn’t ask for or want. When I think about all this, it makes me weep a little, because I realize how little I’m doing for others who are without.
Do they need a companion some days?
Do they need a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on?
Maybe they need a good laugh, a cup of coffee, or a listening ear.
Being present is tough in this day and age. In this era, a time of cell phones, technology, social media, and endless commitments, we can have full calendars and likely not enough rest. Being still has become a lost art form, being still together virtually nonexistent.
I challenge you today to find someone who is without. A widow struggling with her husband’s chores. A momma, missing her children’s voices in a too-quiet house. A son, longing for his father’s direction and his mother’s apple pie. Do something very few people consider important: remind them what it feels like to be with.
The final judgment in Matthew 25:40 says, “The King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me’” (ESV).
Let’s make it a point to serve those who are without.
Angie Dailey lives in rural Ohio with her husband and family. She spends her best and most important time with the Creator of the Universe and with her family. She loves coffee, Jesus, and gardening, but not necessarily in that order. Angie blogs at angiedailey.com.
Photograph © Llywelyn Nys, used with permission