My friends tell me I should be more personal on my blog. I realized just now that what I’d been trying to do for a long time is write the kind of blog that I would enjoy reading, rather than the kind of blog my friends would enjoy reading. A classic mistake, I suppose.
So, instead of writing the kind of blog where I share the things I’m excited about in theology and politics, I’ll write the kind where I share more of . . . myself. That is a little scarier but I think you all might get something out of it.
I wrote the following a few nights ago at a friend’s house out in the country. It is rather depressing but it is also honest about where I was at that point. Things change rapidly lately, so today I’m feeling differently. But this is a start:
Maybe it’s no coincidence that I get the writer’s itch after I read Don Miller for an hour.
I am lonely. My girlfriend and I broke up about a month ago and it is the first time I have been without a girlfriend—I mean, really without one—for about five years. When you’re only twenty-one years old, five years is a long time. That’s a quarter of my life.
The first month, of course, is terrible. Throughout all of it the constant temptation has been to try to edge out the loneliness by filling it with something. Loneliness is a void that we try to fill up with relationships, with human contact, with divine contact, even, but I think that this particular void is bottomless. Not even God can fill it; at least not yet. I feel like I’m trying to fill up the Grand Canyon with the papers in my coat pockets. It isn’t working.
I have especially been trying to fill the loneliness by living in the future, a time when for some reason I think I won’t feel as lonely as I feel now. I pick a girl and pretend that we are married in the future, that we are happy and together and not alone anymore, and then I live in that time and not in the time in which I actually live, which is now. Now is the most difficult time to be sometimes.
Today I am at a friend’s house for spring break with three others. They are nice and in former times I can’t even describe how full they made me feel, how total and complete. Now things are different; I still feel alone when I am with them. I feel that everyone is talking through a wall of pillows or mattresses: their voices are muffled and distant, their laughter does not pierce my ears and warm my heart the way it used to. I feel that I am viewing all of them through the wrong end of a telescope: their faces are distant and blurred and I have to squint to see them.
Tonight everyone was going to bed and my friend was on her way up the stairs and I was hoping desperately that she would wish me goodnight on the way up, that her voice would ring out like a clarion call from a distance, saying that I may feel alone now, but that the loneliness will end sooner rather than later. But there were no goodnights. Only the sound of footsteps, ascending away from me.
The hardest thing to do with this feeling is just to embrace it. It is hard to embrace a void but I am trying. I think that there is no other way to grapple with its truth. I can turn my back on it and pretend not to see it, but it is still there and it makes me feel worse not to know exactly where the edge is, as if I am standing with my back to the edge of a canyon. Turning around will not make the edge any less dangerous or real. Its gravity only pulls at me harder and I feel as though the ground is tilting beneath me, and that inevitably I shall be overcome and fall off the edge, seeing nothing but blue sky and the face of the canyon wall racing past my flailing limbs. This is hardly a comfort.
So, I have decided to face the loneliness and not to deny it. Not only that: I have decided to descend into it, to take each switchback with a careful glance over the edge, checking my balance, holding fast against the winds. The paths are cold and narrow and the bitter gale alternately assists and resists me at every turn.
Maybe I will reach the bottom. Maybe, when I arrive, God will be there waiting.